The Leaf’s pioneering spirit to inspire some internal competition.
The timing is right, according to Renault, for them to properly breach parts of the EV market that have been previously reserved for its sister-marque Nissan. While Renault’s Twizy, Zoe, and Fluence Z.E. have long been offering the buyers of weird cars, compact cars, and family saloons a zero-emissions choice (respectively), the family-hatch space between the Zoe and the Fluence Z.E. has always been left conspicuously empty, for the sake of the Nissan Leaf.
The Leaf is the most popular EV in the world (at least until a Tesla of some form overtakes it), and it brought electrification front-and-centre to a lot of buyers in a form-factor that was meant to be just as appealing as any internal-combustion counterpart. But since the era when the Leaf debuted, EV technology and appeal has changed massively. And while having just the Leaf would have been enough to satiate buyers back then, there’s more room to thrive now.
Speaking to UK title AutoExpress, programme director Eric Feunteun had this to say:
“We will continue in the [small family car] segment, that is our strongest segment and it is the heart of the European market. Then we clearly go down [into more compact vehicles], and we will go up into the [larger] segment, so we will increase our coverage. The idea is to bring the [Leaf-based Renault EV] car at just the right time.” – Eric Feunteun, Global Program Director (Electric Vehicles), Renault
However, while it wouldn’t take too much time nor too much investment to fashion a Renault skin to sit atop the Leaf’s platform, Feunteun communicates concern that when conceiving a larger family car like the one he has in mind, you have to offer big batteries. Big batteries cost alot, which would make the car expensive, and the Renault brand simply cannot accommodate for a ‘premium’ vehicle like that. But, the cost of batteries are an issue of right-now because in time, they will inevitably get cheaper.
“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 the price is the deciding factor. Yes, we will go into [a bigger segment] and yes, it will offer a bigger battery. But we need to find the right timing to be sure we have a competitive offer.” – Eric Feunteun, Global Program Director (Electric Vehicles), Renault
We can expect to see this Renault EV, underpinned by that pure-EV platform and inspired to some extent by the Symbioz Prototype (pictured), arriving in showrooms in another 3-4 years or so. And when it does, Feunteun mentioned that Renault would seek to truly maximise the capabilities of cabin architecture given the ‘blank canvas’ that EV platforms provide.