Renault needs to leverage its existing electric vehicles rather than introduce any new models if the technology is to be a commercial success, the company's global head of EVs, Béatrice Foucher, has told Autocar.
Foucher said that Renault, a pioneer of EVs along with alliance partner Nissan, needed to redouble efforts to remain competitive with EVs as rivals, including BMW with its i range, start launching their own EVs.
To do so, Foucher said that the firm needed to price the cars more affordably, target sales in markets with “a mature attitude to CO2 reduction” such as in northern Europe, create a used market for EVs to ensure that they retained residual values, and ensure that EVs provide a long-term income for Renault by leasing batteries.
Renault has sold 29,000 EVs worldwide to date, and one in two of all EVs sold in Europe is a Renault. Although these figures barely make an impression in the global car market, Foucher points to slow sales of the Toyota Prius in its first eight years on sale before it flourished.
More needs to be done to educate people about the practicality of EVs in terms of price, charging and range, Foucher said. Improving the range is something that it is working flat out on with its battery supplier, he added.
So far, the typical buyer of a Renault EV is a home owner in a suburb or provincial town who can install a private charging point. A normal charging cable that can be plugged into a typical household socket, negating the need for a charging box, is being developed by Renault and is tipped to be rolled out next year.
Renault EV buyers are mainly using their vehicles as second cars, with their first car typically being from a premium marque. They see their EV as an eco good-conscience buy or, in the case of the Twizy, a toy.
Renault is also investing in wireless charging, but the prohibitive cost of this technology makes it unlikely to be developed significantly until the latter part of the decade.