EVs are ‘clearly’ the future despite slow start, Renault’s Normand says

The global market for electric vehicles has not grown as fast as Renault expected when CEO Carlos Ghosn announced a bold investment of 4 billion euros ($4.5 billion) six years ago to develop the technology, said Gilles Normand, the automaker’s senior vice president for electric vehicles.

Although most EV buyers are in cities or suburbs, increasing numbers of people in rural areas are choosing battery powered cars, Normand says.

However, electric vehicles are “clearly” the future of the automotive industry, Normand told attendees of the 2017 Automotive News Europe Congress here on Wednesday.

In 2011, Ghosn had predicted that the Renault-Nissan alliance would have the ability to produce half a million electric vehicles by 2013. Last year, total sales of electrified vehicles including pure electric and plug-in hybrids from all automakers were about 465,000.

While overall sales figures have not hit Ghosn’s early target, the alliance is the global leader with its Renault Zoe and Nissan Leaf electric cars.

Normand pointed to a number of technological and regulatory trends, including stricter clean air and emissions regulations. In China, Normand said, the “airpocalypse” is a real fact and is driving government regulations that aim to have 5 million zero emissions vehicles on the road by 2015. In India the government has announced “massive” investments and wants to see 100 percent electric vehicle use by 2030.

“Electric vehicles are a good short term answer for particulate emissions, and a long term solution for climate and CO2 emissions, together with cleaner energy generation,”

he said.

The spread of fuel economy standards around the world — 83 percent of the global automarket is bound by such standards, Norman said — is forcing automakers rethink their product offerings, he said.

Read more: Automotive News

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