Renault’s electric cars ‘will cost the same as its diesels’

Published: 28 April 2009

Three electric vehicles (EVs) in development by Renault will cost the same as the equivalent diesels in Britain, the company has confirmed to CAR Online. Battery-powered electric Renaults are expected to cost from around £15,000 when they arrive in the next couple of years.

The announcement takes into account the UK Government’s £5000 EV incentive scheme announced earlier this month. Keith Hawes, Renault UK’s fleet director, explained that if, for example, a diesel car was priced £15,000, the EV would cost around £20,000. But the Government grant means the customer would only pay £15,000.

‘We will launch EV van and car versions of the Kangoo in 2011,’ he said. ‘However, the first Renault EV will be based on the Megane saloon, also due in 2011. There’s no decision on whether that will come to the UK because of the dominance of hatchbacks in the C-segment.’

A bespoke electric city car, not based on another vehicle, is due in 2012.

Renault’s electric cars: what to expect

The initial EV trio will have a 100-mile range and be charged in three different ways. These would include plugging into a domestic electricity supply overnight, or during the day at the owner’s place of work.

However, the most technically advanced will be via battery transfer and Renault is already investigating the creation of network of drop-in stations where this could happen while you wait.

Charging your electric car ‘while you wait’

‘It would be a drive-in bay, something like a mechanical car wash, and the battery pack, which is fitted at the rear of the car, is swapped automatically from underneath in less than five minutes,’ said Hawes.

He added that drivers wouldn’t have a contract with Renault for this, but a third-party energy supplier. It’s most likely the battery transfer stations would be located at motorway service stations or trunk road garage forecourts, so they’re easily accessible.

>> Click ‘Next’ to read more about Renault’s electric car plans

Renault won’t talk about EV sales aspirations, but Hawes admits it would be in the tens of thousands of units across Europe. The firm’s own research shows the continental EV market could be worth up to 300,000 sales by 2014.

Don’t doubt Renault’s seriousness about launching electric cars as a mainstream, viable choice. By 2015, the company claims that 15% of its total global sales will be electric cars.

Renault ‘wants to launch the electric equivalent of the Prius’

And Renault insiders say they want their vehicles to be the default choice for potential customers, in the way the Toyota Prius is for those seeking hybrids.

With EVs having 20% lower running costs, plus exemption from the London Congestion Charge under the current regime, there’s huge potential for fleet customers.

‘We are in talks with a couple of our larger users to discuss how we can meet their needs,’ said Hawes. ‘The initial discussions are very positive. If you can make it work and it’s operationally feasible them we believe we’re pushing against an open door.’

>> Will parity with diesel prices be enough to tempt you into an electric car? Click ‘Add your comment’ and let us know