New Renault electric car set to take on the Nissan Leaf in 2022

The Leaf rival will be one of two new Renault electric cars, with a smaller city car also set to join the firm’s expanded EV range

Renault is gearing up to add two new electric vehicles to its range, sandwiching its ZOE EV between a smaller city car and a larger family-sized model to take on the Nissan Leaf. The EV expansion will help the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance sell two million cars per year by 2025.

Renault has previously announced plans to launch eight new EVs by 2022; currently it has four in its line-up. Speaking exclusively to Auto Express, the firm’s global electric vehicle programme director, Eric Feunteun, said: “We will continue in the B-segment; that is our strongest segment and it is the heart of the European market. Then we clearly go down and then we will go up into the C-segment, so we will increase our coverage. The idea is to bring the car with the right timing.”

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Feunteun is conscious that launching an electric family-sized hatchback as it stands would make the model too expensive for a brand like Renault. He added: “If I do it with the cost of the battery today, then I will be at the price of my luxury competitors. If you want to go to C, D, E-segment – we can see what Tesla is doing, and Jaguar – you need to go with very big batteries.

“But that means very expensive cars. I’m a strong believer that the DNA of Renault is to bring affordable technology; the ZOE is the most affordable electric car on the market and price is the number one deciding factor.

“My answer is very clear,” he added. “Yes, we will go to the C-segment, and yes, we will go with a bigger battery – that is for sure. But we need to find the right timing to be sure we have a competitive offer.”

As a result, Renault’s Leaf rival isn’t expected to land until around 2022, when the cost of battery technology should be more in line with the level of pricing the firm is aiming to achieve with the EV. The model, previewed by our exclusive images, is likely to be based around the Renault Symbioz concept, which announced the French manufacturer’s vision of electric and autonomous vehicle technology.

While the as-yet-unnamed family car is likely to feature a more modest design over the concept, it is expected to inherit some of the show model’s more striking touches – such as the exaggerated daytime running lights at the front and rear.

The production car will sit on an all-new dedicated EV platform, which will also be available to the Alliance partners, designed to give the sort of passenger space from the segment above. The larger battery size means it’s likely the forthcoming electric family car will feature a slightly raised ride height, a theme that will become common with electric vehicles. It should offer a real-world range of more than 250 miles.

This idea of improved cabin space was touched upon with the Symbioz, and is something that will become a staple feature in future electric models; the EV platform’s packaging should allow it to offer more room inside for a car with relatively compact external dimensions.

Speaking about the Alliance’s new electric architecture, Feunteun said: “If you look at a dedicated EV platform, it will bring a lot of value that hybrid platforms can’t. On the EV platforms, you will be able to have one segment difference from the inside to the outside of the car. That’s fantastic value.”

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