Renault invests in electric revolution

Over £21 million will be invested in Renault’s electric plant to improve its electric batteries and motors.

The result could be extended range for electric cars, longer lasting battery packs and even stations where flat batteries can be changed with a full battery within five minutes.

The investment will go towards Renault’s electric test centre in Lardy, France and comes as Renault prepares to introduce four electric vehicles into UK Renault dealerships in the next two years.

Jacques Prost, Renault’s Senior Vice President of Powertrain Engineering, said: “The Lardy test centre is supporting Renault’s move into the electric vehicle market – now a concrete reality after the launch of our first electric vehicle, Kangoo Z.E.”

The Renault Kangoo Van Z.E. will be the first electric vehicle launched in the UK when it arrives towards the end of 2011.

It will be followed by the £17,000 (plus battery leasing costs) Renault Fluence saloon, the first four-door saloon electric car to go on sale in the UK.

Renault also plans to introduce the compact, two-seat Renault Twizy city car and the Renault Clio-size Renault Zoe electric car by the end of 2013.

Renault’s electric car range will face stiff competition in the UK as more electric vehicles are released.

The four-seat Citroen C-Zero and Peugeot iOn are already on sale in dealerships and the likes of the Vauxhall Ampera extended-range electric vehicle will arrive in 2012, offering a 350-mile range thanks to a small petrol range extender.

It is an identical setup to the forthcoming Chevrolet Volt, while Ford, Peugeot and even Land Rover are currently investigating electric technology with an eye on future production cars.

Electric cars in the UK currently benefit from a £5,000 grant from the government to encourage take-up of the technology.