Renault has a problem. Last year, Renault-Nissan chief Carlos Ghosn said the two companies would not meet their collective goal of selling 1.5 million EVs a year by 2016. While sales of the Nissan Leaf have been strong – 115,000 globally so far - Renault sold less than 20,000 its EVs like the Zoe, the Fluence ZE and the Twizy last year.
This year was supposed to see the introduction of the Twingo ZE electric vehicle. The problem is that people aren't clamoring for the Twingo, leaving the order books fairly empty. The company now says it will delay the model's debut to an undetermined future date, Bloomberg News says, citing an interview with Renault executive Jerome Stoll.
And it looks like that delay will be indefinite, says Renault spokeswoman Rie Yamane, who didn't address the lack of demand but cited the automaker's current range of EV models.
"We have no plan to commercialize the Twingo ZE, as well already have a comprehensive range of electric vehicles," Yamane wrote in an e-mail to AutoblogGreen, citing the Twizy, Kangoo ZE and Zoe models.
Renault first displayed the electric Twingo at this year's Geneva Motor Show, when the French automaker planned to make good on its 2011 estimate that the Twingo ZE would start sales during the second half of 2014. The company's 20,000 EV sales are a small part to the 2.63 million vehicles that Renault sold altogether, thus the rethink.
Of course, Renault has company. With the exception of Nissan, Tesla and BMW, a number of automakers haven't done well convincing people to go electric, especially in Europe. For instance, Germany, which has set a goal of having 1 million plug-ins on its roads by 2020, has just 12,000 or so. Norway is an exception here, of course.
In fact, Fiat chief Sergio Marchionne, when speaking at the Brookings Institution this week, reiterated that his company loses money on each Fiat 500e EV that his company sells, and even upped the loss to $14,000 per vehicle from his previous estimate of about $10,000. He hammered his point home by telling the audience that he hoped they wouldn't buy the 500e. Maybe he should talk to Renault about marketing.