Renault set to launch electric car range ‘before 2012& Metro News

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Renault Electric Cars

Renault set to launch electric car range before 2012

James Day Thursday 11 Aug 2011 3:16 pm

Ecowheels: The French car company is launching more new electric vehicles in the next year than any other manufacturer but there s a possibility they are jumping the gun.

Renault have announced they will be launching a range of electric cars, including the Twizy (pictured), between now and 2012

The definition of Renault’s trademark slogan ‘Va Va Voom’ is lively, …, passionate and exciting. In recent years it has covered these bases with its Renaultsport range; bold designs including the booty-shaking Mégane; and Formula 1 engines deemed worthy for current champions Red Bull.

Is all that about to change? Renault’s announcement at the 2009 Frankfurt Motor Show that an electric car range would go into production this year shocked many, prompting accusations it was abandoning its roots and playing its eco hand too early.

Renault will be making a huge commitment by releasing 4 EV cars: Twizy, Kangoo, Zoe and the Fluence Sedan

‘I’ve heard quotes from people saying Renault has bet the farm on electric vehicles,’ says Andy Heiron, head of the electric vehicle programme at Renault UK. ‘If you’re going to do it you need to offer a range of vehicles and we’ve made a very significant investment.’

Heiron, 45, had been with the company for 23 years before being handed the ‘the most interesting, broad and quickly evolving job’ he’s ever had at the end of 2009.

‘Somebody said to  me EV years are like dog years,’ he says. ‘We’ve crammed in about seven years of activity into just 18 months and when I think about what we were talking about just a year ago, people have changed their opinions and now a lot of manufacturers are upping their forecasts quite significantly.

The Renault Kangoo is one of four electrical cars to be released by Renault between now and 2012 (Picture: Getty)

‘There’s a collective movement towards electric vehicles.  There’s still a lot of cynicism  out there but the only proof of  this particular pudding is going to be in the eating.’

Between now and October next year, Renault will be bringing an unprecedented four EV models to the British market: a Kangoo van in November; the ultra-compact Twizy in March next year; the Fluence Sedan next summer; and Clio-style hatchback the Zoe (pictured below) in October 2012.

Renault’s huge EV commitment seems all the more risky as France has long had an unwavering love affair with diesel.‘I don’t think we should write-off France as an EV force,’ says Heiron. ‘Admittedly Citroën and Peugeot have taken a Mitsubishi product but all of the major manufacturers and a few niche ones have embraced it.

Renault Electric Cars

‘The [diesel] love affair will go on. We’ve never said everyone will move across wholeheartedly to electric vehicles, it will just become a closer choice between petrol, diesel and electric. ‘Some will switch to fit their moral compass, others because it makes financial sense.’

To achieve the latter, Renault believes it has taken a unique approach to pricing. Motorists lease the costly battery rather than owning it, undercutting rivals like the £25,990 Nissan Leaf.

‘Take Fluence,’ Heiron says.  ‘You pay £17,850 on the road.  It’s totally different territory to the products already out there in the mid to late £20,000s.’

Battery leasing will typically cost between £70 or £80 a month, depending on your contract and the number of miles per year.

‘The Fluence battery is £75 including VAT for a three-year, 6,000 miles-a-year contract,’ adds Heiron. ‘That’s comparable to a full tank of fuel in a small to medium size car.

‘In terms of realistic running costs, and forget off-peak  Economy 7 energy tariffs, £3 will charge a 22kw battery, that’ll get you 100 miles. That’s 3p a mile compared with up to 15p.’

Range anxiety and charging infrastructure problems still exist though. ‘There is always going to be a leap of faith,’ Heiron concedes. ‘I don’t know what it means but people tell me there’s going to be a placebo effect.’

Renault is among the major manufacturers exhibiting at EcoVelocity next month, if  the proof is in the pudding, come down and try a slice  of French fancy.

Renault Electric Cars
Renault Electric Cars
Renault Electric Cars
Renault Electric Cars
Renault Electric Cars

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