Renault EOLAB

Renault EOLAB

Renault from the beginning a few years ago was very confident and focused on all-electric cars.

Then, at the 2014 Paris Motor Show, the French brand unveiled a plug-in hybrid concept - EOLAB, and announced its intention to bring it on the market some day; or at least use some innovative solutions from it in other models.

"The concept car is equipped with a 1.0-liter 3-cylinder 57kW (75hp) engine and 50 kW “a permanent magnet electric motor (axial flux discoid motor in the case of the prototype)”.

New light materials are an important part of (EOLAB weight just 955 kg / 2,105 lbs). EOLAB can go up to 66 km (NEDC) in all-electric mode using just 6.7 kWh battery."

Renault’s chief competitive officer, Thierry Bollore even said at the time that a production version could cost less than Clio:

“We know that in mass production this car it would not cost more than a Clio DCi 90hp,” Bollore told Automotive News Europe. The Clio DCi 90 starts at 18,500 euros ($23,900) in France.”

But current articles about plug-in hybrids from Renault are indicating something different - costs are too high and the market is too small for Renault.

"Renault is ready to launch its first plug-in hybrid, but not everybody is prepared to pay the additional cost and hybrids still represent less than 1 percent of the market, the automaker’s chief performance officer, Jerome Stoll, said."

"Renault will bring to market a production version of the Eolab “as soon as the market is ready,” Stoll said during the company’s annual shareholder meeting on April 30."

Renault EOLAB

Renault EOLAB

There are forecasts predicting that PHEVs will match conventional hybrids by 2019 and in 2025 hit 1.2 million units sold annually.

But the technology combining engine with electric motors and lithium-ion batteries is - according to the article - more suitable for premium vehicles, but Renault doesn't aspire to be in the premium segment.

"Analysts say plug-in hybrids make more sense for premium automakers than for mass-market brands. Audi, BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Porsche are expanding their plug-in lineups. Volvo plans to offer plug-in variants of all its cars.

“Premium carmakers see plug-in hybrids as the key bridging technology between EVs and traditional powertrains, but the cost remains high,” said Tim Urquhart, an IHS Automotive analyst.

Renault’s wait-and-see strategy for plug-in hybrids will likely pay off, he said. “Plug-in hybrids might be expensive at the moment, but they will eventually come down in price and become affordable in the mainstream sector.”

Jamel Taganza, an analyst for Inovev, said Renault has no interest in positioning itself in the high-end plug-in market and plug-ins sold by its rivals such as Volkswagen are too expensive for mass-market customers."

Source: Automotive News Europe