Is Renault's future electric?
A cornerstone of Carlos Ghosn’s plans for Renault is electric vehicles. You could argue he’s betting the farm on it. Renault has launched an extensive EV programme, seeing the launch of four battery-electric vehicles this year.
These range from the Twizy two-seater to the ZOE hatch, Fluence Z.E. saloon and Kangoo Z.E. MPV and van. The Renault Nissan alliance will have the capacity of 500,000 EVs by 2013 worldwide, so it is well placed to service any sales boom.
Renault estimates electric vehicles will represent around 10% of automobile sales in France by 2020, and it wants to be the leading player. Initiatives include an alliance with French supermarket chain E Leclerc to set up 500 EV charge points in the car parks of 50 of its hypermarkets as a plan to bring about massive EV charging infrastructure to France.
Electric vehicles are being targeted largely at fleets – especially companies that want to implement corporate environmental responsibility programmes. Already a large number of French companies have placed significant orders for Kangoo Z.E. vans.
Last October Renault announced orders for a total of 15,637 Kangoo Z.E. vans from 19 French companies, including 10,000 for La Poste, 1,500 for ERDF, 1,200 for UGAP, 510 for Veolia Environnement, 450 for GDF-Suez and 330 for Spie.
Renault Kangoo Z.E. is priced from €15,000 in France (ex-VAT, and including a €5,000 Government environmental bonus). The vans come in two wheelbases and are produced at the Maubeuge plant in France alongside internal-combustion Kangoos.
The first UK fleet order – six vans for advertising company JCDecaux, was placed in April, six months ahead of the vehicle’s British launch. The vans will be used to enable staff to travel between JCDecaux’s UK sites, which cover all major cities, including London, Manchester, Birmingham and Glasgow.
Meanwhile two leading UK eco-chauffeur fleets have taken delivery of Renault’s new battery-electric saloon, the Fluence Z.E. Climatecars and Greentomatocars, which run large fleets of Toyota Prius hybrids, are each running two of the five-seat saloons, on a six-month trial, and both companies are believed to be considering adding the vehicle to their fleets on a permanent basis.
The Fluence Z.E. is a 100% electric private hire vehicle with a range of up to 115 miles on a single charge. All four Fluence Z.E.s are based in Central London, with both companies ensuring their costs and electricity usage are minimised through charging via the Source London network and their own in-house charging points.
Greentomatocars said it would use the Renault Fluence Z.E. strategically for specific shuttle runs and events for its clients, rather than day-to-day private hire duties. “Using the vehicles for these purposes, such as between a company’s office and the nearest station at the start and end of the working day, maximises the reduction in emissions, and ensures the vehicles stay well within their daily mileage limits,” said managing director Jonny Goldstone.
Even the Twizy electric quadricycle has fleet potential. Telecoms company Orange has ordered 100 Twizys as part of ongoing plans to reduce CO2 emissions and energy usage. The vehicles, which are on a long-term lease through Arval, will be provided to employees on a loan basis for urban business use, with the first 14 examples already deployed in the Ile-de-France region.
Orange fleet management director Jean Zermati said Twizy could be added to fleets in other countries depending on suitable duty cycles and a supporting service infrastructure. Twizy joins a number of plug-in vehicles already deployed on the group’s French fleet, including the Renault Kangoo ZE, Renault Fluence Z.E, Peugeot iOn and Toyota Prius Plug-in.
By the end of 2013, Orange is aiming for have “several hundred” electric or hybrid vehicles in use globally, contributing to a planned 20% reduction in CO2 emissions and 15% reduction in energy consumption by 2020, compared to 2006 levels.