French car brand Renault wants to take full advantage of its past in designing the electric vehicles of the future, as revealed by the company’s chief designer, Laurens van den Acker, in an interview with the British publication Autocar.

With new EVs like the Renault 4 and Renault 5 on the horizon, CEO Luca de Meo considers reinventing classic designs “irresistible,” the designer said, adding that the brand’s current head honcho was responsible for reviving the modern Fiat 500 while he was the boss of the Italian automaker in the 2000s.

 “I think there’s this unsaid expectation that EVs should look a little bit anonymous, very fluid, very cold,” Van den Acker said, hinting at models from rival automakers. “I hope there’s more richness in the future for EVs, and we’re trying to do our best. The Renault 5 and Renault 4 will be full EVs, but they will be legendary icons. At the same time, the Mégane and the future Scenic are just very modern cars.”

Gallery: Renault 4Ever Trophy Concept

The designer, who worked with Ford and Mazda in the past, and was named Renault’s head of design in 2009, was asked when he would design a new Alpine or a Renault 4.

“When I came to Renault in 2009, they asked me: ‘When are you going to do an Alpine or a Renault 4?’ I said: ‘Look, I’m hired to design the future, not to design the past.’

But ironically, I think at this time when there’s so much insecurity in the world, where there are many dark clouds hanging left, right, and center, to make a few cars that really talked about the good times – and the times when the brand was alive – and stir all these positive emotions that people have [is a good thing].”

To put things into perspective, the French brand’s strategy couldn’t be more different than Volkswagen’s. Back in June, Thomas Schafer, the CEO of the German brand, said that relying on nostalgia to revive certain models from the company’s past would be a mistake, adding that it "would be a dead end," referring to the possible resurrection of the Beetle as an all-electric model.

Volkswagen chose to go on a different route with the ID.2all concept, which will become a series-production EV sometime in 2026, priced from about $27,000 (€25,000) in Europe, while Renault appears to be going with a two-pronged approach.

Gallery: 2024 Renault 5 teaser images

On the one hand, it’s preparing retro models like the Renault 4 and Renault 5, but on the other hand, names like the Megane and the Scenic are admittedly modern-looking vehicles.

In the Autocar piece, Laurens van den Acker also says something quite interesting, which is that Renault couldn’t have revived the 4 or 5 with a combustion engine because of packaging restraints.

“If the Renault 5 had used an internal combustion engine, it would have had a nose like this,” he said, mimicking a Pinocchio-like nose. “So in that sense, [the transition to EVs is] very exciting.”

Based on the company’s CMF-B EV platform, the new Renault 4 is set to go on sale in Europe in 2025, while the all-electric Renault 5 is scheduled for a reveal in 2024.

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