• Dec 19, 2012
Arnaud Montebourg, France's Minister of Industrial Recovery, was handed the keys to the first Renault Zoe electric car on December 17 by Carlos Tavares, Renault Group's chief operating officer. Renault calls the Zoe the "first broadly affordable full-electric car," and the EV qualifies for a 7,000-euro government incentive in France, bringing the price down to 13,700 euros (including VAT).

Montebourg is the first customer to take delivery of a Zoe before the widespread launch in the Renault network in the spring of 2013. In a press release (available below), Tavares said the delivery, was a "vital step in Renault's electric vehicle offensive." The way the French government has supported Renault is "a decisive advantage for making France a robust cornerstone of electric vehicle development and serves to reinforce Renault's position as a French champion on the international stage," Tavares said.

Frost & Sullivan's senior consultant Nicolas Meilhan might see Tavares' statement as being far from the truth. While Renault has placed itself at the forefront of producing EVs in Europe, it's one of the vehicle manufacturers with the worst performance in Europe, Meilhan said. Renault has invested about $5 billion in EVs, but the company is way off the mark, in Meilhan's perspective.

"A lot of people think the EV is the perfect car for the city. But the truth is it only addresses the local pollution issue; it neither addresses the congestion problems nor the parking issue most cities face today," Meilhan said in an interview.

Reducing vehicle weight is the best way to reduce CO2 emissions and energy consumption, especially in cities, he said. As an example, a gasoline-powered Twizy (if there were such a thing – there's only an electric version of the tiny car on the market) would weigh about 500 kilograms and would emit less CO2 than the Zoe, which weighs about 1,400 kg.

Meilhan would like to see a more far-reaching strategy embraced by European governments and automakers than EVs – like bicycling. "If you compare the same Renault Zoe (EV) with a bike, the easiest means of transport in the city, then you have to put more than 140 people into the car in order to make it as energy efficient as your 10 kg bike," he explained.

What's even more strange has been how long it's taken Renault to produce and deliver the Zoe to the market. Earlier this year, Renault said the Zoe would be on the market and selling more units in Europe by the end of the year than its electric cousin, the Nissan Leaf. Renault just delivered the first Zoe late in the year. If it's so "vital," what's took so long?
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"For More EVs on European Roads, OEMs Have to Significantly Reduce Conventional Car Weight, while Governments Put the Necessary Legislation in Place"

Frost & Sullivan's Senior Consultant Nicolas Meilhan on Renault and what he thinks can change the car market into an electric one

Paris, France – 17 December 2012 - According to the latest AID newsletter, Electric Vehicles (EVs) & Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicles (PHEVs) sales reached 20,558 units in Western Europe for the first 10 month of 2012. During the same period, the United States registered 38,000 units sold, half of it being Chevrolet's Volt. Worldwide not more than 100,000 electric vehicles are expected to be sold in 2012. While the penetration of sales in the U.S. stands at 0.6 per cent for 2012, it is even lower for Europe with 0.21 per cent

European Renault, though at the forefront of producing EVs in Europe, is one of the vehicle manufacturers with the worst performance in Europe.

Renault invested approx. $5 billion in the production of electric vehicles, which prevented them from investing in new models of conventional cars. Whether this strategy pays off and the Renault Zoé attracts much interest remains to be seen.

"The current EV market is a fleet market, a B2B market, not a B2C market," Frost & Sullivan Senior Consultant, Nicolas Meilhan, said in an interview. "A lot of people think the EV is the perfect car for the city. But the truth is it only addresses the local pollution issue; it neither addresses the congestion problems nor the parking issue most cities face today."

According to Mr. Meilhan, it is all about weight. "If you really want to reduce CO2 emissions and energy consumption, especially in cities, then governments and local authorities should only allow cars with a maximum 500kg weight. A 500kg gasoline car – a gasoline Twizy for example (which does not exist) - emits less CO2 in its lifecycle than a the Renault Zoé EV weighing 1400kg."

"If you compare the same Renault Zoé (EV) with a bike, the easiest means of transport in the city, then you have to put more than 140 people into the car in order to make it as energy efficient as your 10kg bike" he explained.

50 years ago, the average weight of a French car was 758kg, 500kg lighter than today's average weight of 1266kg – car weight increased by as much as 10kg per year for the last 50 years. A car of approx. 500kg of weight is as big as the iconic little 2CV, for which production was stopped 20 years ago, but which could be the car of the future in cities. So in the opinion of Mr. Meilhan, weight reduction and the change of regulations and norms is the way forward in the quest to reduce energy consumption and CO2 emissions.

Such light vehicles consuming 2L per 100km already exist. The Aixam or the Ligier are quadricycles with a consumption of 2.5L, which do the most important thing a car should do in a city: take the driver from A to B. You can almost park two quadricycles in one car park where one 5m length BMW 7 Series would fit. And finally, it reduces congestion as it is smaller.

The car of the future for cities is small and - above all, light. "First reduce the weight and the size of the car, then add a small battery (because for a small car, you can use a small battery), then you have the ultimate city car." Mr. Meilhan advised.

However for major European car OEMs to focus on the production of such light weight electric cars, the authorities have to put legislation in place to promote lightweight small vehicles. "The BMW's 7 Series weighs up to 2t just to carry 70kg. This is an energetic non-sense," said Mr. Meilhan.

The Kei-car in Japan on the other hand, is the car to look at with a 660cc engine and a maximum of 3.4m length. But the most important advantages of this vehicle are all related regulatory advantages, reduced taxes, reduced annual road taxes, reduced insurance etc, granted by the Japanese government. "If you really want to move towards such a car, you need to have a strong legislation on the weight of the car, and not only the CO2 emission".

If you want to develop a successful EV, you need to minimise battery size as well, as it is heavy and expensive." The major difference between an EV and a normal car is that for the EV the petrol station is in your house" so you can "fill the tank" everyday. "If you can 'fuel' your car every day at home, you do not need a big battery. 80 per cent of daily drips are less than 60km so there is not a single reason to put in a battery which has a larger autonomy than 60km. Of course you need to add a small range extender to cover 20 per cent of the daily trips where you drive longer distances."

The future of EVs depends on regulations from governments and the European Union, incentivising the consumer to buy them. The car of the future is a small city car, but not necessarily electric. Legislations for taxing weight size and engine power will help produce and sell such a car. Making parking even more expensive for regular cars will help. Other incentives for small cars, such as being allowed to drive in bus lines, as practiced in Norway, will certainly improve the business case for EV.

The financial subsidies introduced by the French government to support electric vehicle uptake, is a drop on a hot stone. Incentives are measured for up to 50,000 cars. But the total car market in France stood at 2 million vehicles. "Governments should consider to pass legislations increasing tax on ordinary cars based on their weight as well as make car parking more expensive – 200€ per month instead of 12€ per month for residential parking in Paris for example. That way you might have a chance to change the car market into an electric one, or at least one that emits less CO2 and consumes less energy, whether it is electric or not."

Nicolas Meilhan is a Paris based Senior Consultant at global Growth Partnership Company, Frost & Sullivan. If you would like to speak to him directly, please contact Katja Feick, Corporate Communications, katja.feick@frost.com.

About Frost & Sullivan

Frost & Sullivan, the Growth Partnership Company, works in collaboration with clients to leverage visionary innovation that addresses the global challenges and related growth opportunities that will make or break today's market participants.

Our "Growth Partnership" supports clients by addressing these opportunities and incorporating two key elements driving visionary innovation: The Integrated Value Proposition and The Partnership Infrastructure.


Renault presents the keys of the first ZOE to Arnaud Montebourg
December 17, 2012 | ID: 41751
  • Renault has presented the keys of the first ZOE to Arnaud Montebourg, French Minister of Industrial Recovery.
  • The first delivery of ZOE, the first broadly affordable full-electric car, comes ahead of further deliveries set for between now and the end of 2012 and mass launch in the Renault network in first-quarter 2013.
  • The delivery is fully in line with the French government's policy, as set out in the "Plan Automobile", of building a sector of clean and competitive vehicles. It also underscores the importance of introducing an extensive network of charging stations.
After ordering a vehicle at the Paris Motor Show in September 2012, Arnaud Montebourg, Minister of Industrial Recovery, was presented today with the keys to the first ZOE in the Cour d'Honneur of the Bercy Finance Ministry by Carlos Tavares, Chief Operating Officer of the Renault group.

ZOE, the spearhead of Renault's Z.E. range, is the Group's first full-electric car. The widely affordable vehicle qualifies for a €7,000 government environmental bonus, bringing the starting price in France down to €13,700 (including VAT).

ZOE targets consumers and professionals alike. It is ideal for daily journeys and embodies Renault's excellence in electric technology. The mobility-enhancing model features the most advanced technology in terms of range, user friendliness (with the installation of a charging station at motorists' homes or workplaces) and connectivity. It is a key symbol of the Group's commitment to the electric revolution.

The Minister of Industrial Recovery is the first customer to take delivery of ZOE before mass launch in the Renault network in spring 2013.

Commenting, Carlos Tavares, Chief Operating Officer of the Renault group, said: "The first ZOE delivery is a vital step in Renault's electric vehicle offensive, aimed at making zero-emission mobility affordable for the greatest number. The commitment of the government and Mr Montebourg, as confirmed today, is a decisive advantage for making France a robust cornerstone of electric vehicle development and serves to reinforce Renault's position as a French champion on the international stage."

The launch will be accompanied by the widespread development of public and private charging stations with the support of the taskforce headed by Philippe Hirtzman and tasked with stimulating and backing infrastructure projects in large urban agglomerations.

The initiative is ideally embodied in the installation by the Ministry of Industrial Recovery of charging stations at the Bercy Finance Ministry. The move is part of the "Plan Automobile" announced by the French government on July 25, 2012 and providing for the installation of charging stations at government ministries and the inclusion of electric vehicles in public fleets.

Key figures:

At end-October 2012, Renault had put 16,600 electric vehicles on the road in Europe.
At end-September 2012, Renault led the European electric PC + LCV market (excluding Twizy) with a 28.2% share.
Renault led the French EV market with sales of 4,566 units (including 1,999 Twizys) at end-October 2012.
Some 10,000 charging stations had been installed in Europe at end-2011. This figure has now risen to roughly 15,000 (up 50% on end-2011).
In France, the 2,000 to 3,000 Autolib stations are accessible to other EVs besides the Bluecars. Considerable efforts have been made in the Seine Aval area, in the Alsace, Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur and Nord-Pas-de-Calais regions, and in cities such as Rennes, Rouen and Angoulême.


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