Renault is apparently working on a new “affordable” electric vehicle, going by a one-line comment made in a new press release announcing the installment of a new Electric Vehicle Business Unit exec.
The news is good, even if unsurprising, as it means that the company seems to see that, although the Renault Zoe is a substantial improvement over earlier iterations, there’s a need to offer something even more substantial. If market share is to be retained, or gained, over the coming years as electric vehicles become mainstream, Renault can’t stop innovating and cutting costs.
Renault is of course one of the top players in Europe as far as the electric vehicle market, and also the overall auto market. And, notably, the company is also in a close partnership with Nissan — one of the only established auto companies to take electric vehicles seriously up till now.
The press release in question concerned the installment of Gilles Normand as “SVP, Electric Vehicle, reporting to Thierry Koskas, EVP, Sales and Marketing” — effective as of New Year’s Day, according to the press release.
Normand commented: “I am very motivated by this new strategic challenge at a time when the Global EV market is entering into a significant growth phase. I look forward to working with the team to continue to drive our leadership in existing and new markets, and bring exciting EV vehicles to our customers.”
The blurb in the release that’s particularly worth making note of is this (emphasis added): “A major advancement in September 2016 saw the presentation of a new Renault ZOE equipped with ZE.40 battery, allowing it to reach a record 400 km homologated range. Groupe Renault is also working on a new affordable EV model. EV market is now entering a new phase with longer battery ranges and emissions reduction objectives open opportunities for zero emissions cars, around the world. In this context, Groupe Renault strengthens the EV business unit, under Gilles Normand’s leadership.”
I wonder what that means exactly? How “affordable?” When will this vehicle be released? Will the company seriously push it? Or will it seemingly limit sales as it has done with the Zoe?
Push EVs provides some interesting thoughts on that:
“Renault has been promising the Renault Twingo ZE since 2014 and year after year postponed its release by saying there isn’t enough demand for electric cars. Now that Renault confirmed that’s working on a new affordable electric car and no longer says that nobody wants electric cars, maybe the Renault Twingo ZE’s time is finally coming.
“Renault is also considering the release of a plug-in hybrid based on the Eolab concept. The Eolab is a very aerodynamic (0.235 Cd) and lightweight (995 kg) concept car, much more than the all-electric Renault Zoe. With the ZE 40 (41 kWh) battery it could have as much range as the Chevrolet Bolt EV/Opel Ampera-e. I don’t see any advantage in making it as a plug-in hybrid, BEV makes more sense and future proof. It just needs a CCS socket to support 100 kW fast charging and it’ll do great. It would also take the most efficient BEV title away from the Hyundai IONIQ Electric.”
Interesting thoughts — in particular, the bit about an all-electric Eolab (pictures above). That would likely sell very, very well in most of Europe if the pricing was reasonable.
As an important reminder here: LG Chem’s new electric vehicle battery manufacturing facility being built in Wrocław, Poland is expected to open next year. Following the beginning of operations there, selling affordable electric vehicles in Europe should become a lot more viable for the firms that have deals in place with LG Chem.
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