Renault's electric Gordini

* Electric-powered hot hatch to arrive in 2012 * Three other Gordini models due from 2010 * Three more electric Renaults in 2012 from 14,000...

Renault's electric Gordini

Renault's Gordini comeback will be completed in 2012, when a Gordini version of the new Clio-sized electric car joins the three other models.

First to arrive next year, sporting the familiar blue paintwork with white stripes, will be a Twingo Gordini, followed by Clio and Megane Coupe Gordinis. Performance (and prices) should be a step up from current Renaultsport models Renault compares its Gordinis with Mini's Cooper S models.

The battery-powered hot hatch will arrive at the same time as three other electric-powered Renaults.

The electric Gordini will be based on a Clio-sized supermini, with seating for four/five people and a decent amount of luggage space. Early tests of the battery-powered 'mini are said to provide exciting levels of performance.

Renault, along with its partner Nissan, is pushing ahead with plans to be first to market with a range of viable electric vehicles. Renault is promising three electric cars on sale in the UK by 2012.

As well as the Clio-sized car, a larger model sitting somewhere between the Megane and Laguna in size will be launched, along with a more functional Kangoo-type vehicle.

The Clio-sized electric car should cost roughly the same as a top-end Clio to buy (around 14,000 at today's prices), while the batteries will be leased at a cost that will be cheaper than the equivalent price of diesel fuel over the same mileage.

Leasing the batteries enables Renault to set up a number of quick-drop centres where owners can drive in and have their depleted batteries swapped by a robot for a fully charged set.

Cars can also be charged from a standard 13amp socket at various fast-charge outlets and, eventually, street-based sockets where the power can be paid for by credit card.