Renault Group CEO Luca de Meo does not believe electric vehicles and combustion engine models will reach price parity anytime soon, mainly because the costs of battery materials have risen dramatically over the past months.
The executive said on the sidelines of the Paris Motor Show that eight years ago the industry was expecting the cost per kilowatt-hour of battery power to fall by $100 within five years, but that is yet to happen.
"I do not see this parity getting close," Luca de Meo was quoted as saying by Automotive News Europe at the French show where Renault's main premiere is the 4Ever Trophy, an adventure-ready concept that previews the Renault 4 EV subcompact SUV.
Renault will launch the Renault 5 hatchback in 2024 and Renault 4 SUV in 2025 as electric reinterpretations of two of the brand's most iconic models. Both subcompact EVs will be based on a platform for small electric cars, which costs about 30 to 35 percent less than the compact architecture used by the Megane E-Tech Electric, de Meo said.
Gallery: Renault 4Ever Trophy Concept
Despite this, the executive noted that the price of Renault's upcoming small EVs will remain considerably higher than combustion models of the same size.
"I can come up with better battery chemistry and better power electronics, but these gains would be erased when the price of cobalt doubles in just six months."
Luca de Meo added that raw materials currently make up about 80 percent of the cost of a battery, which means it would be a good idea to tailor battery size to the customer. Renault's head honcho argued that having vehicles with batteries of 150 kWh to 200 kWh is "simply environmental nonsense."
Obviously, for automakers to be able to lower the battery size and thus the price of future EVs, the recharging infrastructure would have to improve a lot.
Renault's CEO is also adopting a realistic stance when it comes to switching to all-electric production. The company plans to become an electric-only brand in Europe by 2030, five years before the EU's proposed ban on internal combustion engines planned for 2035. However, de Meo says that "ultimately it will be the market, the customers, who will decide if they want to be electric-only."