Autos

Renault’s strategy to green its utility vehicles

While Europe will impose on utilities to reduce their CO2 emissions by 2025, manufacturers are organizing. At Renault, the strategy is multi-energy. An electric pioneer, the diamond brand is tackling the hydrogen market this year. The hybrid will follow quickly to electrify a large part of the range.

Now focused on electrifying their ranges of passenger cars, manufacturers are already thinking about the future. From 2025, in other words “tomorrow”, utilities will also be subject to constraints with a first objective of reducing CO2 emissions by 15% in the first year. Not wanting to put all its eggs in one basket, Renault is turning to three major technologies to green the professional fleets.

Electrical leader

“Electricity is a segment in which we are very active. We were pioneers in 2011 and we remain leaders today with 30 to 40% of the market share in Europe where we make most of our sales with Kangoo ZE “Emphasizes Philippe Diviné, director of commercial vehicle strategy at Renault. This success is largely due to the economic interest for the buyer. “Between 150 and 200 km / day, the Kangoo ZE is cheaper than an equivalent thermal. It’s also the technique that makes the market. When we went from 22 to 33 kWh of battery, we doubled our sales ” he details.

In 2020, the brand will launch the new version of its star utility. ” It will have more autonomy and that will necessarily increase the relevance of the vehicle. On the dimensioning of the battery, we try to find the best balance. You have to be careful there are a lot of vehicles dedicated to repetitive tasks with limited autonomy needs ” warns our interviewee. “From our experience, offering between 150 and 200 km of range covers a large fraction of the missions. A big battery doesn’t necessarily make sense for everyone “ he completes.

Announced by a show-car revealed in 2019, the new generation of the electric Kangoo will be formalized in 2020.

First steps in hydrogen

For Renault, 2020 will also mark the arrival of a first offer in the hydrogen field. Built in partnership with Symbio, an Isère company specializing in fuel cells, it will be launched on Kangoo and Master.

“What we wanted to do was find the smartest solution without being dispersed. We use production vehicles on which we add a small 5 kW hydrogen pack in a range extender to double the range. The idea is to be able to cover ad hoc needs. Clearly, the battery must be able to do 90% of the missions. The fuel cell is only there to provide the supplement if necessary, ”explains the Renault representative.

A way of lifting the barrier of autonomy while keeping the philosophy of a zero emission vehicle. ” This is especially true on Master ZE where sales are more modest at the moment Explains Philippe Diviné who sees two main applications. “There are cases where the autonomy is punctually exceeded and those which allow the missions to be extended to areas closer to the end of the autonomy” he details.

Equipped with a range-extender supplied by Symbio, the Renault Kangoo and Master ZE Hydrogen will begin their deliveries this year.

For Renault, the choice to attack the hydrogen sector by the utility is justified mainly for questions of use and infrastructure. ” On utilities, customers have sharp uses with very repetitive missions. Then there is the question of stations. Most utilities are used in turners (that is, they always return to their original point). In Ile-de-France, with a hydrogen charging station in Rungis, we already cover the entire southern half of Paris. Another located in Roissy covers the northern part. With a reduced infrastructure, there is already a large part of vehicles that can be converted ” considers our interlocutor. “Utility has the advantage of being satisfied with a modest infrastructure. We hope to create a virtuous circle that will push the development of the stations and allow us to attack other markets

In France, Renault plans to deliver its first hydrogen vehicles between late May and early June. ” Ambitions remain modest. We are not talking about hundreds of thousands of vehicles right away. The interest aroused by hydrogen is however significant and even goes beyond what we could have expected ” specifies our interviewee.

Hybrid before 2025

Launched on Clio, Captur and Megane, Renault’s E-Tech hybrid technology is also expected to extend to utility vehicles.

To keep European targets at least 15% of CO2 in 2025, we will have to go massively through electrification. Hybridization makes sense. The point is to recover energy when braking. We have a lot of vehicles used in urban areas. It is therefore in our interest to hybridize them so that they are more efficient. Next, there are different solutions: mild-hybrid, simple hybrid or rechargeable hybrid. We are already developing it on the passenger car. On the utility, we will most likely do it before 2025 »He explains.

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