The French state owns 15% of Renault, which is investing EUR4 billion with its Japanese alliance partner Nissan Motor Co. in one of the world’s most ambitious electric-vehicle programs.
When first announced in 2009, Renault said the Flins battery plant would require an investment of EUR600 million, of which Renault and France’s sovereign fund Fonds Strategique d’Investissement, or FSI, would each put up EUR125 million. The project also would be financed by loans totaling EUR280 million, and additional financing would come from the French atomic energy agency.
Renault’s first three electric vehicles are to enter production this autumn, while production of Renault’s Zoe small electric car will start at Flins as planned in the second half of 2012. The launches were supposed to be followed quickly by production at Renault’s Flins battery plant, west of Paris. But due to the delay there, the batteries on these initial vehicles will be equipped with imported components.
A Renault spokesman said the delay, due to the project’s complex financing arrangements, would not affect the wider electric vehicles program.
“The beginning of production will be early 2014,” the spokesman said. It had been slated for mid-2012. Construction of the battery plant at the site, which also makes the popular Clio compact, will start in the second quarter of 2012.
Before the Flins battery plant comes on line in three years, Renault’s EVs will use batteries made by AESC, a joint venture in Japan between Nissan and NEC Corp, or by South Korea’s LG Chem Ltd. The batteries will be similar to those used for Nissan’s LEAF.
Renault and Nissan are jointly investing 4 billion euros ($5.8 billion) in electric vehicle technology as they scramble to take the lead on a technology that Carlos Ghosn, who heads both companies, has said could account for 10 percent of new car sales by 2020.[source: Reuters]