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Renault's electric crossover concept can shape-shift for added space

The Morphoz concept likely would have been a hit in Switzerland.

So, it's kind of like a Transformer.

Renault

For years, Renault has rolled out some pretty wild concept cars as it previews a future full of electric cars. Yet, I think the Morphoz concept takes the cake simply because it freaking shape-shifts.

While the basic concept is meant to show off Renault's new CMF-EV platform that'll underpin future electric cars, the Morphoz concept delivers serious pizzazz. Underneath the pretty handsome design is an "adaptable function" that can switch between a City mode and Travel mode.

City mode is for, well, city travel; in this configuration the Morphoz measures 173 inches. It keeps the crossover fairly short to maneuver around tight spaces, but when drivers want more room, they can activate Travel mode. The EV then extends itself to 189 inches and unlocks the capacity to install extra batteries. While the concept boasts a 40-kilowatt-hour battery standard for about 250 miles of range, Travel mode makes room for an additional 50 kWh worth of batteries.

Renault imagines the shape-shifting would occur at a special travel station, and there, I'm assuming some sort of robotic process opens a compartment in the underbody to install the extra batteries. The process would take "seconds," according to Renault.  At the end of the trip, the driver makes a stop at the same kind of station to ditch the extra batteries and convert the car back to its City mode size.

Level 3 partially automated technology features in the Morphoz concept, too, and gives the driver the ability to hand off controls in certain situations. Thus, this isn't a self-driving car, even if the interior comforts sound like something you'd see in one. There's a massive screen available for rear-seat passengers to enjoy movies, TV and so on, and the passenger seat swivels to let the occupant interact with those in the back. Speaking of the rear, the seats automatically move backward when the driver activates Travel mode to provide more interior space.

When it comes time to charge the car, it's all about induction -- aka wireless -- charging. Renault imagines cities will have invested in specific road technology that will even let this concept car charge while it drives. (My city can't even fill potholes in a timely manner.) The Morphoz concept is super-smart, too, in that when it's not driving, it can power things around the house and share its power with the grid. And with a digital key, this is a shared vehicle not meant for private ownership.

The amazing part of it all is that this concept embodies core features Renault wants to implement in its cars after 2025. The Morphoz concept itself doesn't look drastically futuristic, either. Take away the oversize wheels, add some necessary regulatory equipment, and it looks like something feasible -- not to mention pretty good looking at that. We all know this decade will shake up the auto industry, but maybe further out, we're in for shape-shifting cars.

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