That's because Nissan, maker of the Leaf EV, is part of the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance, a three-pronged automaker with a huge global presence. In China, however, the Renault brand has been absent from the country's booming market for electric vehicles — driven in large part by government mandates to combat air pollution by promoting cleaner, zero-emission cars and trucks in cities.
Speaking ahead of the K-ZE's debut this week at the 2018 Paris Motor Show, Carlos Ghosn, the chairman and CEO of Group Renault, stated the company "was a pioneer and is the European leader in electric vehicles." To this, he added the K-ZE is meant to have global reach and bring costs down for the consumer. "We are introducing Renault K-ZE, an affordable, urban, SUV-inspired electric model combining the best of Groupe Renault: our leadership in EV, our expertise in affordable vehicles and in forging strong partnerships," said Ghosn.
In China, the K-ZE will be manufactured as part of a joint partnership in cooperation with Renault, Nissan and the Chinese automobile firm Dongfeng Motor Group. The range of the K-ZE is expected to be about 150 miles per charge, or roughly the current range in the 2018 Leaf EV.
Except the K-ZE is almost three feet shorter than the Leaf, which means Renault is getting a lot more range from a smaller and lighter amount of batteries.
While a car this size would be too small for the U.S. market, the technology beneath this teeny hatchback/SUV is certain to make an appearance here in the years ahead. At the 2018 Geneva Motor Show, Nissan provided a hint of its future European EV plans, courtesy of the IMx Kuro Concept. This edgy-looking electric crossover is a good indication as to the design direction of Nissan's next range of electric crossovers and SUVs over the next 3-5 years — look for the design and tech to similarly migrate stateside.
The wait for the IMx Kuro concept's brain-to-vehicle technology — the car's onboard Artificial Intelligence system can read a driver's brainwaves, then adjusts the vehicle's driving dynamics accordingly — is probably more than a few model years (or decades) down the road, however.