“In most places in the world, people are still going to want to own their own cars.” This line from Clotilde Delbos, boss of Renault Group’s Mobilize, was refreshing during a presentation on Tuesday outlining how the nascent mobility arm was going to capitalise on people not wanting to own cars any more.
But then Delbos, Renault’s straight-talking former chief financial officer, isn’t your regular hype merchant.
Car makers’ mobility journeys are increasingly entering the reality stage as they work out what’s practical to offer people who are becoming ambivalent about car ownership but still want access to one.
Talk of fleets of autonomous taxis, for example, once a central theme of the mobility revolution, has cooled. “Many people say that widespread autonomous services everywhere, any time and in any type of city centre, is not for tomorrow but 2028, 2030 or beyond,” said Delbos.
Ambitions for car sharing, too, have been dialled back after the battles endured by the likes of BMW and Mercedes, who last week agreed to sell their joint free-floating car-share business ShareNow to Stellantis following years of losses.
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Mobilize is entering the game with its electric two-seat Renault Twizy heir Duo launching in 2023 but “as an enabler not an operator”, said Mobilize chief operating officer Fedra Ribeiro in the presentation. What this means is that, bar its existing, relatively small-scale, four-city Zity car-share scheme, Renault will mainly lease the car along with maintenance plans and software management to other car-share companies.
Mobilize reckons Duo will reduce operating costs by 35% compared with a four-seater and helps avoid the curse of the unloved car-share vehicle by including features such as removable washable seat covers and plastic bumpers designed with a special colour pattern said to hide scratches.