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Paris show: Renault-Nissan won't rely on EVs, says Ghosn

Future power: Technology in the Eolab petrol-electric hybrid Paris show concept could filter down to future Renault models.

Renault-Nissan to adapt to different market's needs with EVs, plug-ins and hybrids

Renault logo9 Oct 2014

By TIM NICHOLSON in PARIS

RENAULT-NISSAN Alliance CEO Carlos Ghosn says the company will tailor its eco-friendly powertrain line-up to suit individual markets as it moves away from reliance on electric vehicles to reduce its fleet emissions.

Speaking with the media at the Paris motor show, Mr Ghosn said that while the global automotive giant has had success with electric vehicles such as the Nissan Leaf, they would not be the sole focus of the future.

“I don’t want you think that it is either or in terms of technology,” he said. “We have never said it is either or.

“We said we are going to take the leadership of electric car and zero emission, but we are not shutting the door to hybrids, plug-in hybrids, (and will) continue to improve gasoline engines and diesel engines, to bring other breakthrough technology.” Mr Ghosn said the French-Japanese car-maker will continue to promote its EV models for both brands, but highlighted the Renault Eolab hybrid Paris show car that sips just 1.0L/100km on the combined cycle as another example of its fuel-saving technology.

“You’re going to see us very vocal on electric cars. I don’t want you to think we are just ignoring or bypassing the rest.

“I think Eolab is a perfect illustration of the fact that even though Renault is a leader in electric cars jointly with Nissan, Renault will dedicate resources to continue to develop breakthrough technology in plug-in hybrid or hybrid or diesel etcetera....it is going to be a lot of technology.” Mr Ghosn said differing regulations and tax systems from one country to the next meant the company could not simply sell the same electric vehicles in each market, and must offer a diverse range of options for the various environmentally conscious buyers instead.

“Because of the fiscal system and because of the (existing) incentives. You may have a situation in which the Chinese might push for electric cars, the US can push for something else and Japan pushing for hybrids, so we need to make sure all of the technologies are developed so we are never caught by surprise and we can adapt the technology region by region, country by country in function of the incentive system.” Mr Ghosn highlighted China's incentive program, which offers buyers a 60,000 yuan ($AU11,160) incentive for purchasing a full electric vehicle, as a reason for Renault-Nissan to be adaptable when offering various fuel-saving technologies.

“We think governments will be pushing more and more for zero emissions. What we see in China is a perfect illustration about where we go. The fact that governments struggling with deficit continue to maintain the support, particularly on electric vehicles is a big signal on how much they are interested in zero emission transportation.” “So we are going to continue to push it, it's part of our strategy, but it's not an exclusive strategy. We are going to lead in some technologies but also going to compete in other technologies as well.” In its various global markets, Renault has four EVs including the tiny Zoe city hatch, the Fluence ZE (for zero emission) sedan, the Kangoo ZE light-commercial van and the quirky Twizy battery powered quadricycle.

Nissan's EV stable includes the Leaf, which is the world's highest selling electric vehicle with 135,000 sales to date, as well as the e-NV200 delivery van. It also sells a petrol-electric hybrid version of its Pathfinder SUV, while the luxury Infiniti brand offers hybrid Q50 and Q70 sedan variants.

Each brand in Australia has experienced mixed results with EVs, with Nissan shifting 395 Leafs to mostly business and fleet buyers since its launch in mid-2012.

Renault was set to launch the Fluence ZE with fleet trials in Australia in mid-2012 ahead of a wider launch months later, but financial troubles with EV infrastructure provider Better Place – which has since filed for bankruptcy – forced Renault to put the car on hold indefinitely at the end of 2012.

The French brand has since confirmed a 12-month trial of the Kangoo ZE, with its major local fleet partner Australia Post taking four of the electrified delivery vans that it will use until mid next year in Melbourne and in Sydney at the end of next year.

Renault Australia corporate communications and sponsorship manager Emily Fadeyev told GoAuto the company was still investigating the viability of a wider roll out of electric vehicles in Australia, and that there was definitely a future for EVs in Australia.

“We’ve also commenced conversations with other existing fleet partners to further understand the market potential for the Kangoo ZE in Australia,” she said. “At this stage we’ve had initial conversations with various companies regarding the possible local introduction of Renault electric vehicles we are still in a very early phase.

“Renault is a global leader in electric vehicle technology and, based on our current understanding of the local market, we believe there is a future for electric vehicles in Australia in the medium to long term.”

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