Renault Group currently holds 11,000 active patents and produces around 800 new patents every year worldwide. These patents form the company’s intellectual legacy. They are a priceless asset. As well as the talent of their inventors. On July 1st, at the Guyancourt Technocentre, the 2021 Renault Frères Innovation Awards, presided over by Jean-Dominique Sénard and Luca de Meo, respectively Chairman of the Board of Directors and CEO of Renault Group, celebrated Group employees who are innovative, creative, inventive, and daring.
"Innovation makes us dream; it is the banner that flies above industry. Since day one, it has been the cornerstone of our Group’s development. It plays a crucial role in our Renaulution. It will make us stronger contenders on the market as we rise above our competitors. As Renault becomes a ‘tech locomotive’, then innovation is the steam engine that drives the whole machine forward. When we imagine future mobility being idyllic, green, connected, shared, and autonomous, inventors give that vision shape. It is a vast responsibility, yet it is also a great opportunity. “
Luca de Meo, CEO of Renault Group
Renault Group has fostered a tradition of innovation since its creation 120 years ago. Thanks to the Renaulution plan, Renault Group strives to become a true Tech Company, leading the market of mobility products and services. Technological innovation and development are key to achieving that goal. Renault Group therefore wishes to further encourage, acknowledge, promote, and channel such efforts. Thirteen strategic technological areas have been identified, such as the energy transition, digitization, safety, and new forms of mobility. Find out more about these themes through our five winning inventions.
Group employees voted for the Renault Frère Bronze, Silver, and Gold trophies. More than 3,000 employees voted on 10 innovations, thereby choosing the three winners:
The Renault Frères BRONZE Trophy was awarded to the ‘Ingenious automatic luggage compartment opening system’. A rather thrifty innovation that was developed by Renault Technologie Roumanie (RTR), it consists of a metal rod – called a ‘finger’ – attached to each swan neck holding down the spring in a closed position and triggers the automatic opening of the boot hatch. It replaces the traditionally used balancing mechanism.
The Renault Frères SILVER Trophy was awarded to ‘E-Nav: Optimized Energy Management for PHEV to maximize electric driving on city roads. E-Nav utilizes innovative algorithms to optimize the fuel economy of E-TECH Plug-In hybrid vehicles and guarantees all-electric driving in zero-emission urban areas thanks to the use of GPS guidance and map data. Customers save up to 10% on fuel economy and have the satisfaction polluting less as they drive around town.
The Renault Frères GOLD Trophy was awarded to the ‘Fireman Access’: fast access via a metal rupture disc so a high-pressure water jet can easily reach the lithium-ion battery. It is a safety system that makes it easier to ‘drown’ the battery on a plug-in or hybrid EV should a fire break out. A metal rupture disc keeps the battery permanently sealed and ensures it stays watertight as required for normal use. Should the battery catch fire due to thermal run away, the disc easily ruptures when directly sprayed by the firemen’s high-pressure hose making it possible to get water exactly where it is needed inside the battery.
"We have to deal with vehicles that are more complex, mobility ecosystems that are more intricate, and increasingly burdensome regulations. We need innovative solutions more than ever. “
Gilles Le Borgne, Director of Engineering, Renault Group
The ‘Renault Frères Most Promising’ special award recognises a promising technological solution that is recently patented but not yet equipped on our vehicles. This year’s winner is the driver assistance (ADAS) ‘Collision Avoidance’ that identifies the best manoeuvre to avoid a collision and mitigate the risk of injury. The vehicle’s ADAS sensors scan and analyse the car’s surrounds, then assess any dangers. The driver is warned of any imminent risk, then the car's automated guidance kicks in and ensures the safest path to avoid the obstacle, even at high speeds and on a low-grip road, while keeping the vehicle on track.
The ‘Renault Frères Grand Prix’ special award recognises innovation of outstanding importance for the Group. This year’s winner is ‘E-TECH – RENAULT GROUP’S HYBRID TECHNOLOGY’. Already on the market and much sought after by Renault customers, the E-TECH Hybrid and E-TECH Plug-In Hybrid technology is revolutionary thanks to its innovative synchronizer-free, clutch-less dog-box gearbox. It draws on Renault Group’s experience in F1 and more than 10 years of extensive work with all-electric vehicles.
There are six variations of the hybrid technology available on Clio, Captur, Arkana, Megane, and Megane Sedan. For 2021, European sales of E-TECH vehicles have already exceeded 70,000 units.
Why are the innovation trophies named ‘Renault Frères’?
At the end of the 19th century, Louis Renault filed a patent for the direct drive gearbox. The technology was more efficient, less bulky, quieter, and above all, more efficient than the chain and belt transmission systems widely used back in the day. This innovation lies at the at the origin of the Renault Frères company. Hence the awards ceremony takes on the original name of the company in recognition of its origins and 120 years of innovation.