Renault 4L: Celebrating Its 60th Anniversary By Making It Fly

Images: Renault

An automotive design icon, the Renault 4L sold over 8 million units across more than 100 countries over a production lifetime that spanned more than 30 years. To celebrate the 4L’s 60th anniversary, Renault has been holding a year of celebrations and initiatives. For an eye-catching finale, the brand joined forces with ground-defying design hub TheArsenale to create a show-car that gives a futuristic and off-beat reinterpretation of the much-loved 4L.

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The shape of the Renault 4L is faithfully retained for the flying car

The original Renault 4 was a simple, efficient, and versatile vehicle built between 1961 and 1992. Former head of Renault Group Pierre Dreyfus once described it as a “blue jeans” car, and it went on to transport everyone from families to businesses, the gendarmerie to La Poste, while also giving the inspiration and opportunity to generations of young motorists to get behind the wheel. These are the qualities that convinced TheArsenale to collaborate with Renault to reimagine a 4L, one designed to travel the unmarked highways in the sky.

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All set to fly…but a helmet seems to be a must

Branded as the AIR4, the design is a modern reinterpretation of the original icon. Made entirely of carbon-fibre, the AIR4 follows the familiar lines and shapes, but has been re-engineered to accommodate concepts such as thrust and lift that the original could only have dreamt of. Hours of calculations and tests drawing on generative design techniques and artificial intelligence resulted in terabytes of data, every bit of which was carefully modelled and analysed to fine-tune the design. With that complete, real-world trials could begin.

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As a nod to modernity the lamps and Renault’s diamond logo are LEDs

“After a year-long celebration, we wanted to create something unconventional to close up the 60th anniversary of 4L,” Arnaud Belloni, Marketing Director of Renault Brand Global was quoted as saying. “This collaboration with TheArsenale was a natural fit. The flying show-car AIR4 is something unseen and a wink to how this icon could look like in another 60 years.”

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Lift the carbon-fibre body and the mechanicals are revealed

Instead of wheels, the AIR4 features four two-blade propellers, one at each corner of the vehicle. The body sits in the middle of the rota frame, with the driver gaining access to the cabin by lifting the front-hinged shell.

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The 60th anniversary badge is distinctive

The AIR4 is powered by 22,000mAh lithium-polymer batteries that generate a total power of around 90,000mAh, enough for a horizontal top speed of 26m/s, with a 45° inclination during flights, up to a maximum inclination of 70°. It can fly as high as 700m with a take-off speed of 14m/s, although this is restricted to 4m/s for safety reasons, with a landing velocity of 3m/s. Its propellers generate 95kg of vertical thrust, each for a total of 380kg.

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Rear lamps are neon style replicas of the original

The AIR4 has been imagined, designed, engineered and assembled entirely in France, in the heart of Europe’s first technology park in Sophia Antipolis, on the Côte d’Azur. It is the first product from TheArsenale’s Road to Air division, which envisions the future transport network to be in the sky. It is the brainchild of Patrice Meignan, CEO and Founder of TheArsenale, who sought to create a new kind of vehicle that provokes emotion and offers pleasure.

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Seating is just for one: at the centre

“I have dedicated my life to the passion for mobility and I continually explore all aspects of the moving world.” Patrice Meignan was quoted as saying. “After 25 years of forward-looking research, we believe that the icons of car culture are eternal, whether on earth or in the air. For 60 years, the Renault 4 has been driven by ordinary people who make it extraordinary. It is a car that symbolises adventure: simple, practical, useful and as modern as it is retro.”

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Lightweight carbon-fibre rotor blades have been used

The AIR4 is on public display in the centre of Paris at the Atelier Renault on the Champs Elysées until the end of the year, alongside other historic versions of the Renault 4. In 2022, the AIR4 will travel to Miami and then New York, before making a pit-stop in Macau.


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