The funky reborn Renault 5 could cost as little as $35,000 when it goes on sale in 2023.
The 5 has been widely tipped for production ever since it was unveiled by Renault boss, Luca de Meo, as he announced his plans to overhaul the company’s approach to electric cars, manufacturing logistics and product portfolio earlier this year.
De Meo has already spoken publicly about making the car, but Renault has now confirmed that the new 5 will be built at ElectriCity, the umbrella title for a trio of factories in Douai, Maubeuge and Ruitz. These plants, all situated in northern France, will be supplied by a new battery gigafactory in Douai that’s due to be operational by 2024.
This move, and the development of a new CMF-BEV platform specifically designed for smaller pure-electric vehicles, will bring significant cost reductions, Renault claims. The company says that the 5, which is expected to be one of the first new models on the architecture, could cost around 33 per cent less than the current Zoe.
Renault says CMF-BEV – which mixes electric tech with common components from the big-selling CMF-B combustion-powered platform, which underpins the brand’s Clio supermini – will offer a range of up to 400km, although it’s likely that this maximum battery capacity would come at a higher cost. The 5’s motor will be a standardised 100kW unit across all of the small EVs, part of a push to increase economies of scale and trim costs to then pass savings on to consumers.
Speaking to Automotive Daily earlier in the year 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 (AUD$32,000) to €30,000 (AUD$48,000) – 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.”
Renault previously offered the Zoe as a $50,000 electric hatch in Australia though it has since been taken off sale. However, the Renault 5 is produced on a much more cost effective platform and as such could be the French brand’s newest electric hatch in Australia if the business case lines up.
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 third-generation Beetle 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.”
What will the new 5 mean for the Clio?
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 earlier in the year 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.”
About the new Renault 5
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 for now, the concept version is a close-to-production glimpse of a new, more affordable rival for the Honda e and MINI Electric.
The new 5 will be one of two new compact Renault electric cars coming in the next five years – the brand will revive the Renault 4 in electric form as well, 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 the 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].”
Renault 5 design
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 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.
Early rumours suggested that the 5 would use the CMF-B platform currently underpinning the Renault Zoe. The Zoe makes use of a 50kWh battery pack enabling a maximum range of 400 kilometres, 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 80kW. However, we now know that the Renault 5 is likely to use the new CMF-BEV platform instead.
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.