Renault is on course to launch three ground-breaking, all-electric, mass-production models in 2011 and a fourth in 2012, and has given Autocar unprecedented detail on what to expect from each of them.
All four cars will be powered by versions of the 60bhp, 140lb ft electric drivetrain that we’ve just tried in the Kangoo Be Bop ZE. Powered by lithium ion batteries, Renault’s EV powertrain is limited to just 62 miles of range at the moment, but is expected to be good for 100 miles by the time it’s productionised in 2011.
Kangoo Express: Renault’s zero-emissions van
It’s seems an odd decision to launch a pioneering new family of EVs with a commercial vehicle, but that’s what Renault will do in 18 months time. The Kangoo Express will be a 95 per cent match for the Be Bop ZE, which means it’ll do 62mph in 13secs, hit 81mph flat out, and will probably cost around £16,000.
If that sounds like a lot for a small commercial vehicle, it’s because Renault is planning to price its family of EVs to take advantage of the UK government’s £5000 incentive on electric cars. That should bring the price of each of Renault’s forthcoming EVs down to a level comparable with an equivalent mid-range diesel model.
There will also be the additional cost of leasing batteries for the Renault EVs to consider, as none of the cars will come with ‘batteries included’. Renault estimates that a battery pack could cost anything between £100 and £200 a month to lease, and each will have a lifecycle of six years. For motorists who do more than 10,000 miles a year, though, it maintains that running one of its EVs will still be cheaper than running a petrol- or diesel-powered car.
Watch out Prius: it’s Renault’s all-electric saloon
Following the Kangoo to market in 2011 will be Renault’s zero-emissions family option. The company has confirmed that this car will be 4.7-metres in length, and will use Renault-Samsung’s SM3 as a basis.
Because of its size and weight, the car will require a larger battery pack and more power than any of its EV rangemates. Expect it to be priced from just over £20k.
Also in 2011: Renault’s all-electric city car
The third and smallest of La Regie’s battery cars will be a 3.5-metre, two-seater city car.
Renault refers to this member of its battery range with the most enthusiasm; “it’s a really distinctive and unusual design,” an insider told us, “and taking into account government subsidies, it should be very cheap to buy too.”
Expect a £10k starting price, which could halve when incentives are taken into account.
Renault hasn’t given away any clues to the way this car will look so far, but interesting its alliance partner Nissan may have, in the shape of the Nissan Nuvu EV concept shown at last year’s Paris motor show.
Last but not least: an electric Clio by another name
Renault will complete its quartet of EVs when it launches a four-metre, battery supermini in 2012. This is the car we’ll see for the first time at this year’s Frankfurt motor show.
Insiders describe it as a “whole new, ground-up EV, not a conversion,” and as a “genuinely imaginative, stand-out design”.
“This car, and the city car, will be the biggest sellers, we expect,” our source went on, “because they are both all-new.”