FRANCE: Renault delays Flins EV batteries two years
Renault will delay the start of electric vehicle battery production at its Flins site near Paris until 2014 and proceed without the government investment and loan it had planned for the project.
Renault and Japanese alliance partner Nissan Motor are investing heavily in electric vehicle technology, and three of Renault's planned range of four electric vehicles will go on sale later this year, Reuters noted.
A Renault spokesman told the news agency the delay, due to the project's complex financing arrangements, would not affect the wider electric vehicles programme.
"The beginning of production will be early 2014," the spokesman said. It had been slated for mid-2012. Construction of the battery plant at the site, which also makes the popular Clio compact, will start in the second quarter of 2012.
The project was launched in 2009 with the signing of an agreement between Renault-Nissan, the French Atomic Energy Commission (CEA) and France's FSI strategic investment fund.
The FSI, which had planned to invest EUR125m in the project, will not now do so, a Renault spokeswoman later said, adding that the carmaker would not take advantage of a planned EUR100m government loan either.
"It was at the end of 2009, and the company's economic and financial situation has changed a lot, so we have decided, in agreement with the government, of course, not to pursue this loan."
Renault will buy the batteries that it would have sourced from Flins from outside suppliers but this will not affect the cars' profitability, the spokeswoman said.
Nissan, whose Leaf electric car is already on sale, and NEC have a battery joint venture, AESC, in place.
Production of Renault's Zoe small electric car will start at Flins as planned in the second half of 2012.
Renault is due to introduce electric versions of the Kangoo multipurpose vehicle and the Fluence sedan in the autumn, while the tiny two-seater Twizy will go on sale later in the year.
Renault and Nissan are jointly investing EUR4bn in electric vehicle technology as they scramble to take the lead on a technology that Carlos Ghosn, who heads both companies, has said could account for 10% of new car sales by 2020.