Renault sees dual EV/combustion strategy for next 10 years, brand CEO says

Renault sees dual EV/combustion strategy for next 10 years, brand CEO says

Automotive News Europe — 2024-02-29

Automotive Industry

Fabrice Cambolive says a "two-leg" strategy of offering separate electric and gasoline hybrid cars in each segment offers flexibility to react to market trends, especially as the EV adoption rate slows.

The Renault brand will probably continue to offer internal-combustion vehicles alongside a separate lineup of full-electric cars for the next 10 years, CEO Fabrice Cambolive said.

Renault Group CEO Luca de Meo in early 2022 said that the Renault brand would be selling only EVs in Europe by 2030 -- ahead of the EU’s zero-emission mandate in 2035 -- but he has also said that pledge is dependent on market conditions. Demand for EVs in Europe remains high, but the rate of adoption has slowed in recent months, raising questions about the willingness of consumers to continue to pay higher prices for battery-powered vehicles.

Renault is building out its lineup to have full-electric offerings in every segment, with the Renault 5 small car its latest addition. It will complement the gasoline-powered Clio, Europe’s No. 2-selling small car in 2023.

Our strategy is to have ‘two legs’ in every segment -- an ICE [internal-combustion engine] lineup with hybrid technology and a full-electric vehicle,” Cambolive told Automotive News Europe at the auto show here on Monday 26 February 2024.

Renault’s main rivals in Europe are taking different approaches to the EV transition. Stellantis brands such as Citroen, Opel and Peugeot offer combustion and electric drivetrains on the same model, while Volkswagen Group has separate electric and combustion platforms for each segment.

Cambolive said Renault’s approach gives it plenty of flexibility to adapt to market conditions.

For me the question is not [going EV-only in] 2030 -- we will follow the trends with two very competitive offers in our lineup, on both legs,” he said. “This strategy could work for the next 10 years.

Renault is coming off a strong year in Europe under Cambolive. The brand’s sales were up 19%, outpacing an overall market that grew 14%. Key models included the Clio and Austral. Clio sales rose to 202,942 from 143,293 as component shortages eased, and the Austral contributed 72,000 sales in its first full year of production, easily outpacing the Kadjar it replaced.

Newcomers were the full-electric Scenic and the Espace, a midsize SUV based on the Austral.

This year, Renault will up its launch cadence in Europe starting with the Rafale, a midsize fastback SUV; the Renault 5 in May; and later in the year with the Symbioz, a smaller compact SUV based on the CMF-B platform that also underpins the Clio, Captur and compact Arkana.

Cambolive would not disclose a sales target but he said Renault would be turning its focus to smaller cars after crucial launches in the higher-margin compact and midsize segments, a priority for de Meo. “This year we will play both volume and value, and not play one against the other,” Cambolive said.

The Renault 5 has a waiting list of 50,000 names, Cambolive said. Sales of the car start in May led off by a 52-kilowatt-hour version, with a less expensive 40-kWh version following in a few months later. The Renault 5 should not take sales from the Clio, but will appeal to owners of the long-running Zoe small EV as well as winning conquests, Cambolive said.

Although the 5’s marqee number is its €25,000 base price, Cambolive expects to sell plenty of high-trim models, following the strategy of the original 5 that was launched in 1972. Starting with a base three-door model, the 5 gained features, more power, two additional doors and even a mid-engine rally homologation special, the Turbo.

Although the Renault 5 is positioned as a mainstream car, Cambolive said its evocative design could make it a rival to small premium cars such as the Mini, from BMW Group.

The price bracket of the [original] Renault 5 was quite large,” he said. “We have to keep this in mind. It’s meant to be a popular car but at the same time to appeal to full spectrum of society in Europe.