Renault Blinks: Considers Plug-In Hybrids For First Time

4 years ago by Jay Cole 6

Renault's Lineup Of Pure Electric Cars - No Plug-In Hybrids, Or Even Regular Hybrids To Be Seen...At Least Not Yet

Renault’s Lineup Of Pure Electric Cars – No Plug-In Hybrids, Or Even Regular Hybrids To Be Seen…At Least Not Yet

The Renault-Nissan Alliance has long held a belief that the pure electric car is not only the future of the segment, but the present.

Proof of this comes in the fact they have five (soon to be 6) fully electric vehicles in production,  while at the same time there is zero extended range vehicles in either of their lineups, nor have they announced any future models with the technology.

Renault's Best Selling Plug-In Today Is The Zoe (5,974 Units Through First 9 Months of 2013)

Renault’s Best Selling Plug-In Today Is The Zoe (5,974 Units Through First 9 Months of 2013)

Renault takes their commitment to EVs to even an higher level than partner Nissan, with 4 all electric offerings and not even a single hybrid in the fold.

Now, French site Les Echos reports all that may change as Renault is in the early stages of working on both a hybrid and a plug-in hybrid powertrain, the latter or which could be introduced by 2020.

Relatively speaking the only group that has any success of selling pure EVs to the general public has been limited to Renault-Nissan (not withstanding Tesla; who solves the problem of range anxiety by simply cramming more and more batteries into their cars until the situation has been alleviated).

By at least considering the plug-in hybrid powertrain the “Alliance” may now be realizing, or at least open to the possibility, that it is a lot easier to sell a conventional car with a plug-in extended range component, than an all battery vehicle scenario – at least on the ‘low end.’

“We are studying the gradual introduction of the hybrid in our range by 2020. And we are working on all available technologies, “said Marc Bodin, director of powertrain strategy at Renault.

The first introduction of the hybrid from Renault will come in 2014 according to Les Echos, thanks to learnings from Nissan, in the form of the Renault Initiale Paris.  We doubt Toyota, as the all-time worldwide leader of hybrid sales with over 5,000,000 already banked, has much to worry about.

Renault's Partner Company Already Has A Extended Range Powertrain Development Program, Which Spawned The Infiniti Emerg-E Concept Extended Range Sports Car

Renault’s Partner Nissan Already Has A Extended Range Powertrain Development Program, Which Spawned The Infiniti Emerg-E Concept Extended Range Sports Car

As for the plug-in, Renault still has not made any firm decisions, but is studying the application of a 40 kW electric motor application that allows a vehicle to drive all electrically as well on petrol when the battery is depleted.

“The mild-hybrid has the advantage of being less expensive and can target segments volumes, which is our vocation. As for the plug-in, it combines very interesting advantages.”  On the downside, “A requirement to raise the cost barrier, given the presence of two big engines.”

Top Selling EV’s For Renault World Wide Through August 2013:

  • Zoe 5,974
  • Kangoo ZE (van) 3,792
  • Twizy 2,192
  • Fluence ZE 796

Separately, Automotive New Europe reached out to Renault to comment on hybrids (plug-in or otherwise) coming to the French auto maker’s lineup, and while they did concede there where now at an “exploratory stage” with hybrid technology, pure EVs and standard petrol vehicles are still their main focus:

“We will continue to emphasize the development of low-emission  combustion engines and EV cars. Our original strategy has  not changed.”

Considering what Renault-Nissan has been able to manage selling pure electric cars, we would really like to see what they could accomplish if they also embraced the extended range plug-in hybrid concept as well.

Les Echos (French)

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6 responses to "Renault Blinks: Considers Plug-In Hybrids For First Time"

  1. Bloggin says:

    The largest(over 700k annually in US alone) and most profitable electrified vehicle segment is the hybrid. Which makes sense why Nissan is launching their Pathfinder Hybrid for 2014, followed later by the Altima Hybrid, and Renault will offer the Renault brand of the same vehicles.

    The next largest and growing electrified vehicle segment is the plug-in hybrid, where Renault-Nissan is going next, with Nissan going there first.

    Clearly, putting all their eggs in the tiny full EV basket was not a profitable plan. Even Tesla admits zero profit from selling EVs, and earning their revenue from selling CA EV Credits. But Renault’s very slow launch plan, has them launching a plug-in hybrid when 300+ mile EVs at under $30k are in common place.

    Next, Renault-Nissan should be announcing their ‘transition’ to SAE Combo Charger option.

    1. kdawg says:

      You’re not considering battery prices dropping. By 2020, hybrids become even less relevant. Plug-in hybrid…. sure. But still, why push this out 7 years? Can’t they come up with a range extender before then?

      1. Mint says:

        I know. 2020? Really?

        Now is the time for a PHEV/EREV. I can’t believe Nissan-Renault didn’t have a backup plan in place. Put a 1L or smaller engine on a 25kW generator, add a DC-DC converter, and you’re done. Should cost ~$2k in large volume.

  2. David Murray says:

    I hope their PHEV is more awe inspiring than Nissan’s. Although Nissan hasn’t officially announced any PHEV they did recently (like within the last year or two) release some document showing their HEV/PHEV powertrain. It had a very small electric motor, I think it was around 20 Kw or so. Which means it would probably be less impressive of a plug-in than the Prius plug-in.

  3. Jesse Gurr says:

    “The mild-hybrid has the advantage of being less expensive and can target segments volumes, which is our vocation. As for the plug-in, it combines very interesting advantages.”

    Don’t they know that mild-hybrid is a bad term?

  4. Priusmaniac says:

    If Renault adds a micro Wankel range extender shoebox size, as an option on their short ranged electric vehicles, the sales would decuplate.
    As an alternative to a range extender they could also consider an additional aluminum air battery or a liquid battery.