Remember the LaserDisc? A huge CD that measured 30 centimetres across and came out at the end of the 70s with a much better picture and sound quality than the VHS of the time. If it doesn’t ring any bells it’s hardly surprising, as the format turned out to be a flop. Expensive and sadly unsuited to the requirements, the Laserdisc fell into video limbo, outdone first by VHS and later by DVD. It’s a question of timing.
Timing always matters, including in the car industry. Paul Pouchain probably wasn’t aware of that. If you don’t know who he is, we’re talking about the man who built the first hybrid car … in 1894.
In fact, during the infancy of the car industry, electric and internal combustion lived cheek by jowl and in competition with each other. But around about 1910, the innovation battle was over and the internal combustion engine had supplanted electrical power. Too heavy, too expensive, not enough range, it was again a question of timing.
Back to the 21st century. The IC engine is no longer the be-all-and-end-all of automotive power. With rising oil prices, the climate crisis and green transition, going electric now poses a major challenge for the car industry.
Groupe Renault has been thinking about this challenge for some years. As a pioneer of the electric vehicle, the Group has invested massively in this form of mobility, offering vehicles that are accessible and easy to use.
In 2009, Groupe Renault started working on the challenge, coming up with the first Zoe in 2012, a versatile saloon designed for the city. Together with the Twizy, Kangoo Z.E. and Master Z.E., Groupe Renault already has the most extensive electric range on the market.
On the back of this experience and expertise acquired over 10 years, the company will offer its first hybrid vehicles in 2020: the Clio E-Tech and the Captur E-Tech Plug-In
Groupe Renault strongly believes in 100%-electric mobility, as was recently demonstrated with the unveiling of the New Zoe in June 2019. The electric car already ticks a number of mobility boxes and is becoming popular due to its increasing affordability and the development of an increasingly comprehensive charging network. With these technical advances, user interest and curiosity is growing, meaning that the choice to go electric is no longer the privilege of the few.
American Automobile Association survey
Our commitment to electric now also includes developing hybrid or electrified cars, synonyms for an unprecedented transition in the industry. At once electric (part of the time) and internal combustion (the rest of the time), the hybrid is a halfway house between the two forms of energy. But hang on, there’s hybrid, rechargeable hybrid and electric, so what’s the difference? Well, it’s pretty straightforward.
Electric mobility is not just about cars. There’s a whole ecosystem that needs to be designed to encourage ethical use. To this end, Groupe Renault has committed to the development of infrastructures and an electric ecosystem. With a battery capable of balancing the electricity grid, Electric mobility is not just about cars. There’s a whole ecosystem that needs to be designed to encourage ethical use. To this end, Groupe Renault has committed to the development of infrastructures and an electric ecosystem. With a battery capable of balancing the electricity grid, the EV thus has a major part to play in the energy domain; potentially, it can recharge where it is parked, and so has a major role in the new forms of mobility, particularly car-sharing etc. It’s already on the road, and will soon be at the heart of many promising technological and social advances.
Due to their potential for innovation, hybrid and electric cars are at the heart of the Groupe Renault strategy, and not just in vehicles for the general public. Formula 1 for example, is a fantastic area for experimentation - a laboratory for our production vehicles. Since 2014, the hybrid engine has become the standard which bridges the void between two worlds.
For example, as races take place on a known circuit, our race-team engineers can plan power expenditure and recovery phases to match the terrain. On our future hybrid models, the same type of energy efficiency can be applied using GPS. And that’s just one example.
Beyond the successes and failures that characterise the sport, it is a story of people and technology at the heart of a corporate strategy to promote sustainable mobility for all.
As part of our efforts to improve the electric ecosystem, we have also developed a large number of outside partnerships, most recently with the French section of the WWF in the "Reinventing the City" initiative.
As we explained in our first issue about mobility sharing, Groupe Renault is developing a number of mobility services in order to meet social changes. With Zity in Madrid, Moov’In by Renault in Paris and the Marcel ride-hailing service, city shared mobility is going electric for everyone.