PARIS – Renault SA is rushing to keep up with rivals to tap growing demand for electric cars in Europe with new models — possibly with the help of Nissan Motor Co.
The French carmaker is mulling a new all-electric car, bigger than its best-selling Zoe, that could compete with the likes of Tesla Inc.’s Model 3 and Volkswagen AG’s ID.3. The car may be produced on a common platform with Nissan and third alliance partner Mitsubishi Motors Corp., according to Emmanuel Bouvier, commercial director of Renault’s electric car business.
“We’re working on developing the range of our lineup so as to cover all segments with electric cars,” said Bouvier, adding the new vehicle could also be derived from an existing model. “It’s too early to say that we’ll be in competition with Tesla head on, but we’re obviously planning to cover a larger share of the market.”
Renault and Nissan moved early among mass-market carmakers to offer electric vehicles with the Zoe and the Nissan Leaf, but the models lack major shared components or underpinnings. The prospect of the world’s biggest automotive partnership producing new cars together has been under a cloud ever since the downfall of former leader Carlos Ghosn, whose November arrest threw deep tensions in the two-decade old alliance into the open.
Carmakers are rapidly expanding their electric offerings to keep up with tougher emissions standards globally. While sales are growing, battery-powered vehicles remain a niche product with buyers put off by limited driving ranges and patchy charging points. That could change as a string of affordable new models move into showrooms, such as the small Peugeot 208 and the ID. 3, both retailing for around €30,000 (¥3.5 million; $33,000).
Renault, which is rolling out a new version of the Zoe with an extended range next year, is also working on a more affordable vehicle, Bouvier said. The K-ZE low-cost car it built for the Chinese market, partly based on the Indian Kwid model, could eventually be used to build a affordable all-electric vehicle for sale in Europe, he said.
Demand for the new €24,000 Zoe is expected to be strong, Bouvier said, with Renault pursuing plans to have eight electric models in its lineup by 2022. Previous plans by the alliance from 2017 indicated 12 new battery-electric cars by 2022 across Renault, Nissan and Mitsubishi.