Renault switches to turbo mode in electric mobility

Renault switches to turbo mode in electric mobility

Business news |
By Christoph Hammerschmidt

The most important pillars of Renault’s new e-strategy are a comprehensive model offensive, the new electric industrial pole “Renault ElectriCity” in northern France, the E-Powertrain MegaFactory in Normandy, the strategic partnership with Envision AESC to build a battery gigafactory in Douai, and a joint project to develop sustainable batteries with the French start-up Verkor. In addition, there are new developments in the field of e-powertrain and comprehensive battery lifecycle management.

Renault Group plans to launch ten new all-electric models by 2025. This will give the company the most sustainable model range in Europe, with an E share of over 65 per cent. This includes the new Renault 5 and an iconic small car model currently referred to as “4ever”. An all-electric edition of the Alpine sports car will follow from 2024.

The central technological component of the new vehicles is an innovative motor concept: Renault is the first OEM to develop its own e-motor, which does not require permanent magnets and thus no rare earths. The motor is based on electrically excited synchronous motor (EESM) technology. From 2024, Renault plans to introduce further technological improvements; the goals are higher efficiency and lower costs. 

Renault Group has also agreed a partnership with French start-up Whylot for an innovative axial flow E-motor. This technology will initially be used on hybrid powertrains to cut costs by 5% while reducing CO2 emissions by up to 2.5 grams per kilometre under WLTP. Renault Group will be the first manufacturer to produce the axial flow E-engine on a large scale from 2025.

In the field of power electronics, Renault will extend its control over the value chain by integrating the inverter, DC-DC converter and on-board charger (OBC) into a box of its own production. With a compact design, this “one-box” project will be 800-volt compliant. Since it can be deployed across all platforms and powertrains (BEV, HEV, PHEV) and has fewer parts, costs can also be reduced. The power modules for inverters, DC-DC converters and OBCs will be based on wide bandgap semiconductors such as silicon carbide and gallium nitride. A key element of this is a recently announced strategic partnership with ST Microelectronics.

In addition, Renault Group is working on a more compact e-drivetrain, the so-called All-in-One system. This e-drivetrain integrates the e-motor, the reduction gearbox and the power electronics in a single package (One Box Project): this enables a total volume reduction of 45 percent. In addition, there is a cost reduction of 30 percent for the entire powertrain and 45 percent lower energy consumption according to WLTP, which enables an additional range of up to 20 kilometres.

Renault is also on the verge of a giant leap in battery technology and its industrialisation. NMC (nickel, manganese, cobalt) batteries play a central role in the company’s e-mobility strategy. NMC batteries deliver up to 20 per cent more range than other battery solutions at a competitive cost and are also easier to recycle. All future Renault e-vehicles will use this technology. Up to one million e-vehicles to be equipped with NMC batteries by 2030 at Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi alliance level.

A key component of the strategy is the partnership with battery manufacturer Envision AESC. The goal is to build a battery megafactory with a capacity of 9 GWh in 2024, with the perspective of increasing capacity to 24 GWh by 2030. Adjacent to the new electric industrial pole Renault ElectriCity in northern France, the site will produce state-of-the-art, low-cost, low-carbon and safe batteries for electric models, including the future Renault 5.

In future, three Renault production sites in northern France will be brought together under the Electricity umbrella: Douai, Maubeuge and Ruitz. Over the next few years, Renault intends to make these plants the most competitive and efficient production network for electric vehicles in Europe; the target is an annual production of 400,000 vehicles by 2025.

As a further step, Renault Group has signed a letter of intent to take a 20 percent stake in the French start-up Verkor. The two partners intend to jointly develop a high-performance battery for the C-segment (lower compact class such as the Clio model) and higher vehicle classes of the Renault brand as well as for Alpine brand vehicles. Pilot production of battery cells and modules is scheduled to start in France from 2022. In a second step, Verkor plans to build the first Gigafactory for high-performance batteries in France from 2026, with an initial capacity of 10 GWh for Renault Group, which could rise to 20 GWh by 2030.

In less than ten years, Renault Group thus aims to gradually reduce the cost of battery packs by 60%. The target is less than $100/kWh in 2025 and less than $80/kWh with the introduction of solid-state batteries planned from 2030 in the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi alliance.

These batteries and powertrains are expected to further enhance their performance through specially developed platforms for electric vehicles. This applies both in energy and industrial terms and follows the example of other major OEMs such as Hyundai and Volkswagen. Renault’s CMF-EV platform is to be used in the C and D segments in future. Already in the relatively short period until 2025, Renault and its alliance partners aim to build 700,000 vehicles based on this technology. Thanks to low weight and state-of-the-art thermal management, the CMF-EV architecture enables a WLTP range of up to 580 kilometres. The all-new MéganE, which will be produced in Douai from 2022, is also based on the CMF-EV platform.

In the B-segment, the CMF-BEV platform enables affordable electric cars to be offered to a wide range of customers. Compared to the platform currently used for the ZOE, the CMF-BEV platform reduces costs by 33 per cent. The CMF-BEV platform allows ranges of up to 400 kilometres. The new all-electric Renault 5 is also based on the CMF-B EV platform.

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