2013 Renault Zoe electric carEnlarge Photo
The Nissan Leaf and Chevy Volt might be leading plug-in car sales in the U.S, but in Europe one in two electric cars sold as a Renault.
That doesn't mean high sales of course, but it means Renault has a foothold in a growing market, and one it isn't keen to let go of.
And as part of its own brand strategy over the next few years, there's a message other electric automakers would do well to take notice of: make the most of your current electric vehicles, rather than spreading the technology too thin.
It may seem like an unusual take for a company with four production electric models--the Twizy urban vehicle, Zoe subcompact, Fluence compact and Kangoo van--but Renault says it won't be adding to that range any time soon.
As Autocar reports, Renault has sold around 29,000 electric cars worldwide since its first models, the Fluence and Kangoo, arrived in 2010. The bulk of those are the Kangoo itself, and the tiny Twizy, popular in European cities and for its low price.
The key here is reducing costs. Redoubling efforts to sell existing product improves economies of scale both on the electric drivetrain technologies and the vehicles themselves. And those lower costs aid both profitability and, when passed on to consumers, sales volumes.
Renault's most recent sales results show the Zoe is selling in respectable volumes in Europe, with 4,770 registrations in the first half of 2013--a 29.5 percent share of the market. As more automakers launch their own EVs that market share is unlikely to remain static, further emphasizing the need to push existing products.
That doesn't mean work can't go on behind the scenes, and Renault adds that improving battery range with its supplier is a priority.
Education matters too. The latest wave of electric vehicles includes plenty of great cars, but Renault's global head of electric vehicles, Béatrice Foucher, told Autocar that more needs to be done to educate potential buyers on price, charging and range.
The electric car market won't (and mustn't) cease development, but Renault's underlying message is simply to get those volumes up and costs down before promising the next generation of electric vehicles.