Renault announced recently that their flagship electric car Zoe, which has been late coming out, will be launching in Spring, but is not allowed to plug into the standard electric car charger. There is no explanation as to why Zoe will not be adaptable to standard electric car chargers, which can easily be installed in homes, but purchasers of the Zoe will have to spend between 850 and 1300 euros to buy a ‘wallbox’ as well, according to LeFigaro[fr]. A disparaging review of the Zoe in CleanTechnica paints a pretty bad picture for Renault, who is not only late to the Electric Vehicle(EV) market, but is also being criticised for its overall performance in Europe, and now its B2C strategy in the EV market, a market predominantly dominated by B2B fleet deals.
It’s been tough times for French car makers in the past year or two. The economic crisis is putting less money in the pockets of the French middle class, and, as it turns out, out of the entire global automobile industry, these are the only people buying French cars these days. You see, while their German neighbors have exported not one(BMW), not two(Volkswagen), but three(Mercedes) car brands on a global level with a luxury, or at least comfort branding to each of them, France really has fallen short on the internationalization front.
There are four major French automobile manufacturers – Peugeot, Renault, Citroen, and Bugatti. The first three you’ve probably only heard of during recent news of factories closing across France and major layoffs - 10000+ across the manufacturers. Bugatti – oh, that’s a name you heard of. That has just as much luxury to it as a Mercedes, even more, really. Well, that’s because the company was bought by Volkswagen in 1998 – makes sense that their brand recognition has gone up in the last 15 years.
It’s a pretty sad state to find French car manufacturers, especially Renault. In a talk I give called Intro to the Paris Startup Scene, I often site Renault as one of the great innovators in French history. The company was quite innovative – the founders Louis and Marcel Renault were quite lean with their development of the company. Unfortunately, it seems that Renault is doomed to the same fate as co-founder Marcel Renault, who died tragically driving one of his own vehicles in a Paris-Madrid race.