Renault 5 ‘Le Car’ returning as electric vehicle

Ooh la electric!

The iconic Renault 5 subcompact, once sold in the U.S. as the Le Car, is set to return as a battery-powered vehicle.

The French automaker revealed the 5 Prototype at an event on Thursday outlining its future electric car plans. Along with its hatchback profile, the car reimagines several features from the original, including turning the engine air intake on the hood into a charging port and adding a textile-trimmed roof that echoes the large retractable fabric one that was available on the first 5.

Renault is targeting a 2023 launch date for a production model, but hasn’t divulged any details on expected range and price.

As far as U.S. availability is concerned, Renault doesn’t currently sell cars here and isn’t planning an imminent return, but you can still buy an electric Le Car … if you can find one.

U.S. Electricar also offered a 4-door Lectric Leopard based on the Fiat Strada

U.S. Electricar also offered a 4-door Lectric Leopard based on the Fiat Strada
(David L. Ryan/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

From 1979 to 1980, the U.S. Electricar company offered a Le Car conversion that it called the Lectric Leopard, which swapped the four-cylinder engine for an electric motor that drove the wheels through the Le Car’s standard four-speed manual transmission. It drew power from a six-pack of 6-volt car batteries like golf carts used, however, and had a range under 50 miles per charge and a top speed of just 55 mph, which was legally as fast as cars were allowed to drive at that time.

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It’s not clear exactly how many were made, but they occasionally show up in classified ads, often with battery packs updated to 12-volt or even modern lithium-ion cells.

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