Emmanuel Bouvier, commercial director of Renault’s electric car business, tells Automotive News Europe, “We are working on developing the range of our lineup so as to cover all segments with electric cars. It’s too early to say that we will be in competition with Tesla head on, but we are obviously planning to cover a larger share of the market,” he said. Bouvier did not rule out the possibility that a larger electric car could be based on an existing model.
Bouvier’s statement offers little more than a fuzzy look into Renault’s plans for the future. The company has been stung by the arrest and imprisonment of its CEO, Carlos Ghosn, by Japanese authorities last year. That arrest may have come at the behest of corporate leaders at Nissan. In theory, Renault, Nissan, and Mitsubishi are all one big happy family which accounts for a sizable chunk of new car sales globally.
But behind the curtain, Nissan has reportedly chafed at the autocratic management style of Ghosn and the impression that it was a merely a junior partner in the alliance. Whether there even is an alliance anymore is open to question.
If a larger EV were to be based on an existing model, it would have to be either the Nissan LEAF or the Renault Zoe. While both cars share components, they are built on separate chassis. If Renault intends on competing with Tesla and VW, it will need a dedicated EV chassis that is as sophisticated as the ones used by its rivals.
The Renault Zoe has been very popular in its home market. It will receive a battery upgrade soon that will give it greater range which the company expects will further boost sales. As nice as the Zoe is, it is a small car, especially compared to the Tesla Model 3. Giving it a bigger brother would help it appeal to a larger segment of the new car market.
Back in 2017, before the corporate insider war erupted, Renault said it would have a dozen electric models for sale by 2022. It seems now that boast will not become a reality. Will Renault actually field a Tesla/VW ID competitor anytime soon? “We’ll see,” said the Zen master.
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