#GIMS2016 - Five questions for Eric Feunteun, head of the electric vehicles programme--
What can you tell us about the ZoE Swiss Edition model that Renault is revealing at the Geneva show?
Eric Feunteun: ZOE Swiss Edition is a limited edition that prefigures the top-end ZOE model set for European release in September 2016. It addresses ecology-conscious customers looking for an exclusively elegant take on environmentally sound personal transport. Elegance and environment are not incompatible.
For maximum appeal to the most demanding customers, we put a lot of emphasis on the car interior, which offers a sumptuous smoked grey décor with luxury leather upholstery. The handbrake lever has a leather trim, and there are velvet cushions throughout. The dashboard trim and R-Link totem are in “metal smoked grey”, for a very neat and harmonious effect. The exterior looks great too, with a new Yttrium Grey body colour and new 16” wheels. And the Bose sound system with its six loudspeakers gives superb audio quality.
ZOE Swiss Edition will be available with the R240 power unit. ZOE with this trim level could be released either as a special edition or as a version in its own right, depending on the market. Names will be announced when the orderbooks are opened in each of the countries concerned, after the summer. In the meantime: patience!
Is Renault aiming at leading positions on electric vehicle markets elsewhere in the world, as well as topping the European charts?
EF: Everyone knows that Renault is number-one in Europe, but not, perhaps, that we have the largest fleet of electric vehicles in Korea, with SM3 ZE.
With announcement of the release of Fluence ZE in China, Renault also confirms its presence on the world’s biggest electric vehicles market. On other continents, Renault’s strong reputation as pioneer and expert in zero-emission vehicles enables it to seize opportunities for development of electric transport solution and contribute to developing the necessary electric transport infrastructure ecosystems. Specifically, we’re there with electric vehicles in more than 40 countries worldwide, including Colombia, Uruguay, Jordan, the Gulf states, Hong Kong, Australia and Malaysia.
How does Renault stand out among the many automakers exhibiting electric models at the Geneva Motor Show?
EF: Renault was the carmaker that first opened up the electric vehicles scene, and we’re intent on keeping our technology lead, through the many development projects we have underway. We’re consistently pushing ahead to increase the range of our electric vehicles and shorten charging time, as in 2014, and as with release of the new-generation R240 electric power unit.
Competition from other automakers is a good thing for our customers, and above all it confirms the good sense behind the Renault-Nissan Alliance’s strategic choice in favour of all-electric transport.
Looking at growth in the C segment, might we expect an electric crossover from Renault in the short- or medium-term future?
EF: With four electric vehicles in the Renault range, we enjoy pretty wide market coverage already. Renault’s job is to offer customers affordable electric transport. If one day we see that the conditions are right for this kind of solution in the C segment, then sure, why not? But there’s nothing specific to report along these lines for the time being.
Does Renault have any specific solutions on improving vehicle range, which people still see as the main impediment to buying a ZE vehicle today?
EF: Well, ZOE today has a range of 120 to 170 km in real terms. This goes a long way to meeting the everyday needs of B-segment customers in Europe, and this is confirmed by high customer satisfaction ratings.
Then the charging station density is constantly improving. For example, there are stations at 70 km intervals along motorways. This is highly reassuring for electric vehicle customers. Following the range increase of twenty or so kilometres achieved with release of the R240 power unit in 2015, we’re also talking about a two-fold range improvement for ZOE in the coming years. Innovation along these lines will be converting more and more customers to the advantages of electric transport.