Renault fast-tracks development of affordable EV to counter Chinese competition

Renault is gearing up to develop a more affordable version of its electric Twingo model in response to the increasing competition from Chinese electri
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Renault
File photo of a Renault electric car on display at Geneva Motor Show. Image has been used for representational purpose only. (AFP)
Renault
File photo of a Renault electric car on display at Geneva Motor Show. Image has been used for representational purpose only.

Renault is set to embark on engineering work for a more affordable variant of its electric Twingo model, aiming to combat the increasing competition from Chinese electric vehicle (EV) makers, a report by Reuters stated. Interestingly, the EV will be the first product under the ‘Ampere’ brand. The development of the EV is likely to take place in India, as the company relies on the Renault Nissan Automotive India Private Limited (RNAIPL) facility for many of its new technological advancements.

The group's goal is to establish India as a comprehensive hub to support Renault's and Alliance's global aspirations. The company even stated that a good percentage of the the recently revealed Renault 5's development happened in India.

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Ampere is an electric vehicle and software company formed in 2023 by Groupe Renault as part of the third phase of its "Renaulution" recovery plan. The company claims to design, engineer, manufacture and market under the Renault brand electric tech-driven vehicles that people can afford.

Interestingly, Japan's Nissan Motor will invest in Renault's electric vehicle (EV) unit Ampere. During the press conference in Chennai held last week, Nissan CEO Makoto Uchida, said, “We want to be a global (EV) player in the world," adding that the company wants to deepen its partnership with Renault, and through that, it's presence in Europe.

Uchida and Renault CEO Luca de Meo, in their first visit to India also noted that the country is a tough and competitive market and would require government support and an ecosystem for the transition to EVs.

Their visit signifies the importance of the South Asian nation as a future growth market especially as carmakers globally face intense competition from Chinese rivals.

Ampere’s move comes as Chinese automakers rapidly expand their presence in the European market, pressuring established players like Renault to accelerate their product development timelines.

According to sources familiar with the matter, Renault's development of the new electric Twingo will follow the "freeze concept," where the vehicle's design is finalised and approved. This milestone was reportedly achieved last week, paving the way for Renault's EV unit,Ampere, to commence supplier selection, prototype creation, and production scaling.

Renault has been actively working to reduce its product development timelines, aiming to match the speed at which Chinese EV makers bring new models to market. The development of the electric Megane took four years, while the electric R5, scheduled for release this year, was developed in just three years.

To expedite the launch of the new Twingo variant, Renault engineers plan to reduce the number of parts by 20 per cent, opting for more generic components and prioritising parts readily available from suppliers. The mass production of the new Twingo is expected to begin in 2026 at Renault's facility in Novo Mesto, Slovenia, where the current-generation electric Twingo ZE is produced.

The new Twingo is part of Renault's strategy to produce smaller, more affordable EVs, targeting a price point below 20,000 euros to compete with Chinese brands like BYD. Renault is also exploring partnerships with other automakers to further reduce costs, including discussions with Volkswagen about sharing the Twingo platform. These talks are said to be ongoing and will not impact the development of the new Twingo variant.

In response to Renault's initiatives, Volkswagen is also working on an entry-level EV for launch by 2027, potentially through collaboration with partners. A decision on Volkswagen's strategy is expected in the coming months.

First Published Date: 03 Apr 2024, 06:08 AM IST
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