One is an expert in car share schemes, the other is an expert in electric car technology. And now Bolloré and Renault are working together to become partners in the world of both electric cars and car sharing.
Announced this morning, the two french firms have signed an agreement which will see them work together on three separate projects designed to not only further the development of electric vehicle technology but also to build new jointly-operated car sharing schemes and develop a new type of electrified urban vehicle designed exclusively for life as a car share vehicle.
When Bolloré launched its Paris-wide car share scheme in 2011, it did so with a specially-designed four-seat, three-door city car called the Bluecar. Designed by Pininfarina exclusively for the purpose, it features a 50 kilowatt electric motor and a 30 kilowatt-hour lithium-polymer battery pack married to a supercapacitor. Intended for city use, the Bolloré Bluecar has a top speed of just 81 mph, and a ‘normal’ mileage of 93 miles in mixed driving. On lower-speed city streets however, Bolloré claims a theoretical city range for the Bluecar of 160 miles when driven sensibly.
Available through Bolloré’s car sharing scheme and more recently via its corporate and private leasing schemes in the Île-de-France area, the Bolloré Bluecar has been manufactured for the company by Italian firm CeComp in Turin.
As part of the agreement with Renault however, Bolloré intends to shift all Bluecar manufacture from CeComp to Renault, with production due to commence in Dieppe, France in the second half of 2015. Better known as the Renault Sport Factory and home to the Alpine brand of days gone by, the facility currently produces the Mégane Renault Sport, Clio Renault Sport and Mégane Renault Sport dCi. (Renault’s own compact electric car — the five door Zoe ZE — is produced at Renault’s Flins factory.)
The second part of Renault’s agreement with Bolloré will see the two firms working together to design, implement and operate car sharing schemes for electric cars across Europe. Owned in a 30:70 split by Renault and Bolloré respectively, the agreement allows for Renault to phase some of its existing electric car models into the schemes, predominantly its two-seat Twizy city runabout and its Zoe hatchback. In keeping with its percentage shareholding, up to thirty percent of the vehicles used in the scheme will be Renault-branded. From the second half of this year, two distinct Bolloré-operated schemes — the bluely service in Lyon and Bluecub service in Bordeaux — will offer customers the chance of using a Twizy in addition to the Bluecars already present in the schemes.
Finally, the agreement will see Bolloré and Renault collaborate on a new vehicle for use in various car share schemes: a three-seat Bluecar. Smaller than the current four-seat model, the three seat model will initially be designed and built as part of a feasibility study into the usability of a three rather than four-seat EV in city car share schemes. Smaller, lighter and presumably more efficient than existing Bluecars, it would feature a 20 kilowatt-hour lithium metal polymer battery and may enter into production if the feasibility studies have a positive outcome.
The agreement not only marks an interesting entry into the car-sharing market by Renault, but further widens the gap between the electric car strategies and programs of Renault and its automotive partner Nissan. While both companies are currently joined at the hip through a mutual shareholding and single CEO Carlos Ghosn, there’s a distinct difference between the differing electric car strategies of both firms, with Renault favouring its own proprietary AC quick charging system over the various DC quick charging systems used by the rest of the automotive industry.
What do you make of Reanult’s latest partnership? will Renault’s electric car fleet become the vehicles of choice among car sharing schemes around the world? Does this mean we’ll finally see the Zoe and Twizy enter the U.S. as part of Bollore’s BlueIndy car share service? Or is it another way for Renault to fund its electric car development programs after the terrible failure of Israeli-based Better Place?
Leave your thoughts in the Comments below.
[Hat-tip: Ad van der Meer]
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