Renault claims it will be the only car manufacturer in the world with an affordable range of electric vehicles by 2012, and it’s not lost on the company that the launch timing coincides with the London Olympics. There has been speculation recently that the company may use the games to unveil its environmentally friendly models to the world and this has not been ruled out.

Global marketing director Stephen Norman said the company would have three different models, two passenger cars and a light commercial vehicle with starting prices in line with the current Clio priced at GBP9,500 here in the UK.

Norman says one of the vehicles would be “the like of which you have never seen before” and customers would be expected to rent battery packs. The leasing cost, he claimed, would be less over the life of the car than filling up with petrol, diesel or LPG.

Norman said that Renault’s first electric vehicles would be available for testing by journalists by the end of this year and the brand would launch first with a light commercial vehicle in 2011.