Luca De Meo says that the new Renault 5 will keep to the original formula and be an affordable hatch.
New Groupe Renault boss Luca De Meo has revealed to Automotive Daily that the new all-electric Renault 5 could cost from under £20,000 (AUD$35,000) when it goes on sale in a couple of years.
The new retro-styled model features classic Renault 5 styling cues, brought bang up-to-date with an all-electric powertrain. Yet De Meo has no plans to sell it as a premium model like the MINI Electric or Honda E.
Speaking about the positioning of the new Renault 5, De Meo said, “The mission of that car goes beyond Renault – the mission of the project is to democratise electric technology in Europe and you do that when you are able to do a competitive electric car in the range of €20,000 to €30,000 (AUD $31,000 to $47,000) – making money, obviously.
“It has to be a car that is in that range of price; we want to make it simple, accessible and essential. It needs to be an affordable product.”
De Meo revealed that it was mistakes made with the third-generation of the Beetle while working at VW, and then successfully launching the 500 while at Fiat, that has shaped his thinking on the new Renault 5.
“If I’m asked ‘What was your mistake in your career?’ I remember when I was at VW there was a time when we were launching the Beetle – the third generation – and I thought I could repeat the coup with the Beetle again.
“I saw that car like an iconic product that everyone knew. And so I remember going to the board to ask for money to do a big launch. It worked for a few years in the US, but it never worked really in Europe. You know why? Because the new car was far away from the original concept.
“As much as the Cinquecento was very close, relatively speaking, to the original concept of being an emotional, affordable small car, the Beetle third generation had nothing to do with the original one – a simple, affordable product – so it didn’t work.
“I learnt a lesson that if you want to stay consistent with the original position of the Renault 5, you need to do something that fits the original concept. It was a democratic product, it was a popular product.”
While the plans for the new Renault 5 are clear, whether the Renault Clio has a future as an all-electric car is less certain, with De Meo hinting that it could be a car solely for markets where combustion engines are still allowed.
“I’m asking myself what to do with the next generation Clio,” he said. “What kind of concept it needs to be? Where are the markets? What kind of customer? I think we still have time and technical options. But if you think about the European perimeter, it will be difficult to make a small car with combustion engines profitable – you have to hybridise them with a lot of technology.
“In the A segment it’s already happening where the only possibility to compete and to be profitable is having an electric version – that’s why we have the Twingo and the Dacia Spring. And when the water goes up, the next one will be the B segment.
“Maybe there will be other markets where cars like a combustion-engined B-segment car will be successful, but not in Europe.”
The iconic Renault 5 hatchback is to be revived as the keystone of an electric transformation for the brand that will see seven fully-electric Renaults launched by 2025.
Called the Renault 5 Prototype, the car revealed in these official images is a close-to-production glimpse of a new rival for the Honda e and MINI Electric, albeit with the promise of an affordable price, according to Renault CEO Luca De Meo.
It’s rumoured that the new 5 will be one of two new compact Renault electric cars coming in the next five years – the brand is tipped to revive the Renault 4 in electric form as well, likely sitting beneath the 5 as a smaller, more budget friendly electric city car with a practical edge that could see it used for commercial purposes.
“The project was not in the pipeline. This is the sort of thing that comes from guts of an organisation,” said De Meo, referencing the short turnaround of the new 5 prototype.
“It’s one of the cult products of the brand so you have people who like to play around with the design and so forth. This is something we created together in the last six months. It was quick, decisive. “But now it is in the product plan. And it will come earlier [than 2025].”
The new Renault 5 takes strong influence from the design of the original 5, with a highly similar silhouette yet modernised details including the headlights, the bootlid and the shape of the taillight signatures. It’s the work of newly acquired designer Gilles Vidal, headhunted from PSA and the man behind the similarly retro Peugeot E-Legend concept.
“The design of the Renault 5 Prototype is based on the R5, a cult model of our heritage. This prototype simply embodies modernity, a vehicle relevant to its time: urban, electric, attractive,” said Vidal, pointing to the prototype’s similar lines and flush surfacing.
Some styling elements from the original have been repurposed for modern usages. For instance, the bonnet air intake hides the charging hatch, and the fog lights in the lower front bumper are actually daytime running lights.
The new Renault 5 will be a five-door electric supermini, with the rear doors neatly integrated into the design and hidden door handles in the C-pillar. Huge flared wheel arches are a nod to the more extreme Turbo I and II variants of the original Renault 5, homologated for world rallying.
No interior shots have been revealed, but the cabin appears to be a minimalist environment, with only a transparent digital instrument panel visible on top of the dashboard.
CEO De Meo has confirmed that the production version of the Renault 5 prototype will use the same fully electric version of the CMF-B platform currently underpinning the Renault Zoe, though exact specifications have not been finalised. The Zoe makes use of a 50kWh battery pack enabling a maximum range of almost 400km, while recharging speed is capped at 50kW, and buyers have a choice of two electric motor options – one car with a 98kW motor and one with 81kW.
The current-generation Zoe is due to go out of production in 2024, when manufacturing at the firm’s Flins factory north west of Paris will cease. As such, it’s likely that the 5 will be lined up as the Zoe’s replacement.