At a press conference last week, Renault CEO Luca de Meo said his company plans to sell only battery electric cars in Europe by 2030 — and not a moment too soon. He left the door open for Dacia, the low-priced brand in the Renault stable, to continue selling gasoline and diesel powered automobiles after that date, calling it Renault’s Plan B. According to Automotive News Europe, the switch to electricity at Dacia would come at the “last possible moment” in order to preserve Dacia’s reputation for marketing low-priced vehicles, what de Meo calls its “value for money” strategy.
With this announcement, Renault joins a growing list of brands including Peugeot, Fiat, Opel, and Ford of Europe that have all made similar pledges. They have little choice in the matter. The European Union is considering new rules that would require automakers to sell only zero emission vehicles by 2035. The next big step in EU carbon dioxide emissions targets comes in 2025. It will be followed by Euro 7 rules on pollutants that are expected to make it even harder to sell cars with infernal combustion engines. “We have an obligation to participate in the transition” to a carbon-neutral Europe, de Meo said.
Renault has just launched the Megane E-Tech, only its second battery-electric passenger car after the Zoe, which came to market 9 years ago. It will be followed by at least four other battery electric models from Renault by 2025, including the small Renault 5, a compact SUV to slot in below the Megane, a small crossover or SUV inspired by the Renault 4, and an electric van.
Renault has been struggling financially of late, losing money consistently quarter after quarter. But de Meo says things are looking up. Development costs for new electric models have been cut by 40% and development time reduced by 25%. “Time is money,” he pointed out
The company’s relationship with partner Nissan has been strained to the breaking point by the Carlos Ghosn affair. De Meo said he had seen Makoto Uchida, his counterpart at Nissan, only once in person since the pandemic began, but that executives from both companies would meet at the end of January and hold a joint press conference afterward. He hopes for a “new dynamic of collaboration” with Nissan in Europe and that, with “common sense,” the brands could launch new products and initiatives together. Yeah, good luck with that, Monsieur de Meo.