This year at Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2017, Renault has come with a surprise: the first open-source mass-market electric vehicle platform: the Renault POM – short for Platform Open Mind.
The new Renault POM is based on the Twizy platform, a small, two-seater electric “car”, which I find better suited for city use, in a warm climate, as it offers almost no protection against the elements. I remember I laughed when I saw the Twizy for the first time, as it comes with no windows. Add-on plastic side screens were later released, and the Twizy could be used in colder climates, albeit rain still seeps inside. Still, better rain protection than on a motorcycle or scooter, and a much better protection for the driver in case of car crash.
But the Twizy also brings a lot of fun: it’s almost noiseless, and it the 13 kW (17 hp) electric motor of the Twizy Urban 80 delivers quite a punch.
And now it has its open source counterpart. In partnership with OSVehicle (the makers of Tabby Evo), and ARM, the new Renault POM: a open-sourced, stripped down version of the Twizy. The new POM has the same drivetrain as the Twizy (rear-engine, rear-wheel-drive), and it can be ordered both in 4 kW (5 hp) or 13 kW (17 hp).
The battery is a 6.1 kWh lithium-ion battery with a weight of 100kg, same as in Twizy, providing a range of up to 100km.
All other bodywork parts were removed, leaving space for us to exert our creativity.
So, what makes the Renault POM so important, especially in the context of low-volume sales of the Twizy?
As the OSVehicle site states, the new Renault POM will be
available to start-ups, independent laboratories, private customers and researchers, it allows third parties to copy and modify existing hardware and software to create a totally customizable electric vehicle.
I can easily see the POM to become the focal point of university labs. It has all the mechanical issues covered, leaving students to focus on concepts related to battery charging and efficient motor control.
Also, before the release of the Renault POM, the only way to build a custom electric vehicle was to take a normal one (either petrol-fueled or electric) and modify it yourself. That includes stripping down everything is no longer necessary, while adding new custom components. Not exactly economical…
Now, we can get the already stripped down version, with a cost that I expect to be much lower than of a road-worthy Twizy. And speaking of road-worthiness, it’s much easier to obtain the road legal certification if you start from an existing platform. As an added bonus, OSVehicle can help – check their services page for more information.