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A friend in need - Renault-Bollorť

Published: Fri, 19 Sep 2014 13:26:39 GMT

Renault Bollore Ghosn deal electric

Open quote signNo two ways about it, so far at least, Renaultís high-voltage charge into the electric world of motoring hasnít exactly turned into the roaring success that was first hoped. 

Just over halfway through the current year, with just over 4,200 all-electric ZOEs registered in the whole of Western Europe during the 7-months to July, Renaultís grey-faced strategic planners would probably concede, at least privately, that so far demand for electric cars has failed to live up to their high earlier expectations.

Thatís not just in domestic France. 

With the sole exception of tiny Norway, the same surely goes for the rest of Europe. 

The same sorry tale is told across the globe. 

So much about the early bird catching the biggest worm. 

Spare a thought for Renaultís production planners at their no-doubt greatly underutilised electric car facilities.

IHI for one now believes that demand for electric cars has not only failed to live up to high initial expectations, but the way things are looking at present, by 2020 they will account for less than one per cent of the total vehicle market. 

Put into perspective, thatís just one-tenth of the electric car demand Renaultís Ghosn had predicted. 

The music hasnít exactly stopped. 

But instead of dancing the night away to fast tangos, itís a slow waltz on an almost empty floor. 

Step in Bollorť. 

Last weeks announcement of an all-French Renault-Bollorť joint-venture is no get out of jail free card for Renault-Nissanís hitherto unhappy electric vehicle venture in Europe. 

But it helps both partners, but not a lot. Revealed as the joining of forces to promote electric vehicles, it is hoped to assist both companies to make the most of a dire situation. 


The decision to switch the assembly of Bollorťís Bluecar from Italy to one of Renaultís underworked French plants will do next to nothing to lessen Renaultís agonising surplus electric car/battery capacity burden. 

However, the wise decision to join forces on the development of an all-electric European wide car-sharing scheme looks more promising. 

If it comes off, and the chances are good, such an operation set up in many of Europeís major cities, could eventually pay its way. 

So far this year some 752 Bolloreí Bluecars took to French streets. Presumably, most will be picking their way through heavily congested Paris traffic.

By the time similar affordable car-sharing schemes are put on the road in say Rome, Barcelona, Brussels, Berlin and Madrid, to name but a few beckoning likely locations, such a joint Renault-Bollorť electric car sharing scheme could conceivably soak up 10,000 plus electric cars per year. 

That way, with a mixed fleet of Bolloreí and Renault-Nissan electric cars, could at least ensure that Renault-Nissanís European electric vehicle production is just about kept idling.

Not if, but when Europeís car buying public is eventually ready to make the switch to pure electric urban motoring, say in a decade or so from now, partners Bollorť-Renault could at least be one step ahead of their rivals. 

Alternatively, if the car-sharing bug catches on in a big way in Europeís mushrooming urban areas, as is likely, the size of the car-sharing fleet needed would expand accordingly, thus calling for a proportional increase in electric car production. 

Regardless, whether the electric car industry started to run before it could walk, or if King buyer is not yet ready to make the switch because of lingering range-anxiety concerns, or todayís still sky-high prices of these first generation electric cars, the sobering reality is that too many unsold electric cars are sitting in factory stores or disused airfields because the earlier predicted big sales wave simply failed to materialise. 

On this issue, Renault got itself into a real pickle this time. Its pains, it seems, appear to be easing now that it is shared with a friend
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