Renault's electric vehicle sales may have hit a bit of a slump in the first 5 months of 2013, but that hasn't prevent Renault chief operating officer Carlos Tavares from declaring that the French automaker still expects to double its EV sales in 2013, as compared to 2012.
The Majority of Renault's EVs Sold in 2013 Will Certainly the Ones With the Zoe Name
This comes as a surprise to us, especially since Renault's current EV slump is rather sizable (the European economy as a whole is struggling in a big way, too).
Tavares says that Renault's EV sales target for 2013 is more than 36,000 units globally. From October 2011 through the end of 2012, Renault sold just over 18,000 electric vehicle worldwide.
Here's what Tavares stated:
"We are the leaders in EV sales and we intend to stay so. We are the only manufacturer with four EV models. Our European market share as an automotive company, including Renault and Dacia, is nine per cent, but our share of the zero-emissions vehicles market is 51 per cent."
We know that the Renault-Nissan Alliance is focused only on pure electric vehicles at the moment, but will plug-in hybrids come wearing a Renault badge sometime soon? To that, Tavares says this:
"There is nothing wrong with plug-in hybrids, except for the fact that if you look at the bill of materials for them, it is quite obvious that the cost of a plug-in hybrid is much more than a single-energy powertrain. The fact that you have an internal combustion engine coupled with an electric vehicle powertrain gives you the kind of autonomy you would like from your D-segment family car. But you have two powertrains in one car, in an industry where most of the manufacturers are financially in the red and the best are making five per cent cash operating profit. So how do you put two powertrains in one car without translating it into additional cost and therefore additional pricing? That’s the challenge."
And then he adds this, too:
"That’s why this story is becoming a very polarised one. High-end flagship vehicles and SUVS are going for plug-in hybrids, whereas the commuting cars are moving to pure EV because you need to keep the price competitive. This is going to have an impact on pricing. For the high-end the price is perhaps not going to be a big deal, but certainly you are not going to see plug-in hybrid in compact cars."
But there's still a chance that Renault will someday have a plug-in hybrid. As Tavares says:
"I have nothing negative against that technology, but I will only do things that make sense and are profitable for the company."
So, if there's a profit to be made from a Renault plug-in hybrid, then it'll get the green light. We wouldn't count on it though, but at least Tavares is open to the idea.