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Europe: Renault Electric Vehicles: A commitment becomes a reality

Renault unveiled four electric concept cars at the 2009 Frankfurt Motor Show with a promise to make them widely available to motorists starting in 2012… Since then, Renault has publicised each milestone in this ambitious and unique project, securing the backing of governments, signing partnership agreements and testing battery safety.

Renault has focused on training its network, sales staff, technicians and repairers with the aim of offering customers seamless service. Electric vehicles were first tested in The Sims 3 virtual community before being put through real-world trials involving more than 400 EVs and a panel of users across nine markets.

Today, Renault is honouring the commitment it made at the 2009 Frankfurt Motor Show with the release of its first electric vehicles. Renault is demonstrating its drive for innovation, clearly investing in a future with the environment at its core. Electric cars are no longer a dream out of reach for many, but a reality accessible to the majority of the buying public.


Electric vehicles are the flagships of Renault’s eco²drive, a position which is centred squarely on the availability of a range of more ecologically-aware and readily affordable products and services. In its ‘Renault 2016 – Drive the Change’ plan, the Renault group committed to reducing its global carbon footprint by 10 percent between now and 2013, and by a further 10 percent between 2013 and 2016. It will achieve this by:

■introducing new technologies for internal combustion engines and transmissions, and
■making an unprecedented commitment to all-electric vehicles.
Renault estimates that electric vehicles will account for 10 percent of the world market by 2020. The Renault-Nissan Alliance aims to be a key player in this new form of mobility with 1.5 million Renault and Nissan electric vehicles on the roads by 2016. The Alliance is investing €4 billion in this Zero Emission programme and deploying a 2,000-strong team (1,000 at Renault and 1,000 at Nissan) working on electric vehicles.


1. Why electric vehicles?

2. In the beginning

3. How an electric motor works

4. Safe, high-performance batteries

5. Full-scale trials: 400 vehicles in nine countries

6. Award-winning technology

7. Network geared up for arrival of Z.E. range

8. Partnership agreements

9. Eight misconceptions about electric motoring

10.The Renault Z.E. electric range


“The automobile industry contributes to the problem of climate change. It generates 12 percent of the CO2 emissions that result from human activity and accounts for 25 percent of the world’s oil consumption. At Renault, therefore, we have decided to be part of the solution.”

“The stakes relating to the introduction of widely affordable electric vehicles call for far-reaching changes to our industry so that the automobile is once more perceived as a means of progress, both for mankind and for the planet. The aim is to integrate the automobile more fully in its environment and make our towns and villages greener, quieter and more pleasant to live in.”

Carlos Ghosn, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the Renault Group

After 18 years of research, lithium-ion battery technology has come of age and provides a satisfactory response in terms of both range – which has doubled compared with the technology developed in the 1980s – and safety.

Although Renault engines stand out amongst the best in class for emissions are concerned, using oil as a source of energy will always result in the emission of CO2. Electric vehicles are consequently the only real clean-break solution, since they do not emit any CO2 whilst in use on the road.

However, the environmental impact of electricity generation must also be acknowledged. That said, as things stand, electric vehicles are much cleaner than their internal combustion-engined counterparts in terms of their ‘well-to-wheel’ energy balance, even when the generation of the electricity they use is taken into account.

And if electricity is one day produced entirely by the sun, wind or water, or by nuclear power, they will become emission-free. With an all-electric car and clean energy, the lifecycle of our vehicles – from manufacturing through to recycling – will be that much more attractive.


“In 2011, the utopian idea of driving electric cars will at last become a reality thanks to Renault, 169 years after an electric vehicle first turned a wheel. That historic occasion was back in 1842 when a certain Andrew Davidson could be seen in the streets of Edinburgh travelling in a bizarre machine equipped with two electromagnetically-driven axles. This year, it will be possible to spot no fewer than two electric vehicles in our towns and countryside: Kangoo Van Z.E. and Fluence Z.E. These models will cost the same price as an equivalent diesel-engined model. Soon, Twizy (at the price of a three wheeled scooter) and ZOE (at a Clio’s price) will complete the electric range. With Renault, not only are electric vehicles about to take to the streets, but they are also readily affordable.”

Thierry Koskas, Electric Vehicle Programme Director

One car stood out on the Tuileries Esplanade at the second Paris Motor Show in June 1899: The ‘Jamais Contente’, designed by Belgian Camille Jenatzy. This electric car was powered by two electric motors each producing 50kW. It had broken the land speed record not far from Achères, near Paris, on April 28, 1899, reaching a phenomenal 106kph. In 1904, there were some 30 electric carriages on the streets of Paris. They had to return to the depot every 60 kilometres to be fitted with a freshly charged battery. At the time, there were only 10 or so petrol-driven carriages around…

Despite these promising first steps, internal combustion engines took precedence over electric motors because they were a faster solution to get up and running and to amortise. One hundred years later, electricity is an integral part of our lives and we use electrical appliances, cameras and camcorders, mobile phones and even trains, underground systems and trams on a daily basis. Personal transport and aeronautics are the last two industries consuming oil as their direct source of energy.


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