Renault discussing small EV opportunity with Volkswagen and others

Renault and Volkswagen are in discussions about collaborating on a battery-electric minicar for the European market. Luca de Meo, CEO of Renault, confirmed the talks at the Geneva auto show, mentioning that other potential partners were also being considered.

Renault aims to offer electric vehicles (EVs) at prices comparable to traditional combustion-engine models to compete with Chinese carmakers entering the European market with affordable EVs.

Renault previously announced plans to launch a full-electric Twingo minicar by 2026, priced below €20,000. Talks with several automakers were initiated to find potential partners for this project, and Renault is now exploring the possibility of sharing the Twingo’s platform with Volkswagen.

The electric Twingo will be based on a shortened version of the AmpR Small architecture, similar to the new Renault 5 unveiled at the Geneva show. To reduce costs, Renault is considering using less expensive lithium iron phosphate (LFP) batteries.

Despite the partnership talks, Renault is prepared to proceed with the Twingo project independently if necessary. Meanwhile, Volkswagen is also working to introduce affordable small battery-electric cars, aiming for a price below €20,000. The Citroen e-C3, launched by Stellantis, has set a precedent in this segment. Partnering with Renault could facilitate VW’s plans to succeed its e-Up electric minicar and related models such as the Skoda Citigo and Seat Mii.

VW’s small EV successor, potentially named the ID1, is anticipated to complement the upcoming ID2 hatchback. Thomas Schaefer, VW brand CEO, expressed openness to partnerships to achieve competitive pricing.

Switching to electric drivetrains presents an opportunity for automakers to re-enter smaller segments if costs can be managed effectively.

Renault aims to achieve a cost reduction of up to 40% for the new electric Twingo through various measures such as parts reduction, streamlined manufacturing processes, and affordable battery chemistries. Cost-saving strategies from the Twingo project will be applied to other Renault models, including the Renault 5 and upcoming Renault 4 small SUV, to lower their prices over time.

Collaborations among car manufacturers have often been instrumental in developing small city cars, combining expertise and resources to create efficient and affordable vehicles tailored to urban environments. One notable example is the partnership between Toyota and PSA Group, which resulted in the Toyota Aygo, Peugeot 107, and Citroën C1. These models shared the same platform, engines, and components, allowing for economies of scale and cost-sharing in development.

Another instance is the collaboration between Fiat and Ford in the production of small city cars. The Fiat 500 and Ford Ka were built on the same platform, with Fiat providing the design and engineering expertise, while Ford contributed to the development process. This collaboration enabled both companies to enter the small car segment with competitive offerings.

Similarly, the partnership between Mitsubishi and Smart led to the development of the Smart ForFour and Mitsubishi Colt.

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