Renault plans to introduce electric cars that cost the same as diesels within the next three years.
'Environmental soundness should be at a price everyone can afford,' said the company's chairman, Carlos Ghosn, while introducing four electric-car concepts at the Frankfurt motor show yesterday.
The four cars range from a four-wheeled two-seater model thats similar to a motorcycle (Twizy) and a futuristic supermini-sized car (Zo) to electric versions of the Kangoo van and the company's new Fluence saloon.
All four electric models will go into production between the start of next year and mid-2012, and will have a range on a full charge of between 100 and 115 miles.
Battery schemes to cut costs
Renault plans some sort of leasing or pay-as-you-drive scheme for the cars' batteries to keep down purchase prices.
It also proposes three schemes for recharging to overcome 'range anxiety' among buyers plug-in at home and top up the batteries in four to eight hours, fast-charging to 80% of capacity in 30 minutes or what it calls battery-switch or quick-drop points, where a technician can swap the battery pack in three minutes.
Try before you buy
Renault currently has an electric Kangoo van for fleet managers to experience in Europe, and the company's electric vehicle business development manager, Christine Tissot, revealed that it will come to the UK for trials within the next few weeks.
She believes fleets are a prime initial target for electric vehicles because of the cars low running costs. 'We have great expectations for the electric Kangoo if we can keep buying costs at the same levels as for a conventional car,' she said.
'Maintenance costs are suppressed you do not have to change things like oil and filters, for instance and the cost of mobility is significantly reduced.'
Renault also has high hopes for the Zo as a commuter/shopping/school run car, and believes the Twizy will have strong appeal among younger buyers.
In combination with partner Nissan, Renault expects 10% of its sales to come from electric vehicles by 2020.
'Buyers will expect the same things as a conventional car, with no compromises. They will want style, safety and comfort, and heating in winter and cooling in summer but we believe buyers' behaviour can be changed if the up-front payments are not too high,' said Tissot.