Renault shrugs off electric car setback

Mon May 27, 2013 7:12am EDT
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By Gilles Guillaume

PARIS (Reuters) - French carmaker Renault (RENA.PA: Quote) said the collapse of a joint venture aimed at making electric cars more appealing would not hold back its plans for battery-powered vehicles.

The news that Better Place had filed a motion in an Israeli court to wind up the company came as Renault was preparing on Monday to hand over the first electric Zoe to construction and telecoms conglomerate Bouygues (BOUY.PA: Quote).

Renault-Nissan alliance chief Carlos Ghosn has ploughed a bigger share of his companies' cash into the technology than any other mass-market carmaker as the group bets on demand for electric cars, especially in China.

Better Place represents not much more than 1 percent of the alliance's total electric vehicle volumes said Gilles Normand, Renault's Asia-Pacific director.

"Which means that it's not at all a case of bringing our electric strategy into question," Normand said.

He added that the "quick drop" technology developed by Renault for Better Place represented only "an extremely limited part" of the 4 billion euros ($5.2 billion) that the alliance planned to invest in electric cars by 2015.

Despite generous subsidies, sales of electric cars in the United States and Europe remain far below expectations three years since the introduction of the Nissan (7201.T: Quote) Leaf. The installation of charging networks is also flagging.

SCEPTICAL   Continued...

A Renault Zoe new electric car is displayed during a meeting with journalists in Lisbon March 14, 2013. REUTERS/Rafael Marchante