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Renault goes back to the future in an electric acceleration By Reuters

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A Renault ZOE electric car is pictured at a dealership in Les Sorinieres, near Nantes, France, October 23, 2020. Picture taken October 23, 2020. REUTERS/Stephane Mahe

By Gilles Guillaume

PARIS (Reuters) -French carmaker Renault (PA:) unveiled a more ambitious strategy for electric vehicles on Wednesday, betting on new, affordable versions of its iconic small cars of the past to catch up with Volkswagen (DE:) in the fast-growing sector.

Renault Chief Executive Luca de Meo said it planned to launch 10 electric cars by 2025 and that all-electric vehicles would account for up to 90% of Renault models by 2030, dropping its reliance on hybrids to hit the target under a previous plan.

Renault is betting that an electric version of its classic Renault 5 compact car, which was discontinued in the 1990s, will capture the imagination of today’s drivers.

It was also set to unveil its new electric “4ever” on Wednesday. Two sources close to the company said it would be a revival of the Renault 4 hatchback, which went out of production last century too.

De Meo said that new, purpose-built electric car platforms and a cluster of production sites in northern France would allow Renault to deliver electric vehicles (EVs) at a lower cost.

“Today is an historic acceleration of Renault Group’s EV strategy,” de Meo said in a statement.

SHRINKING SHARE

Renault’s Zoe model, the biggest-selling battery electric car in its segment in Europe for years, is losing ground to models such as Volkswagen’s ID.3 compact electric car.

Figures from database EV-Volumes.com showed Volkswagen’s share of the EV market in Europe soared to 25% last year from 14% in 2019, overtaking the Renault, Nissan (OTC:), Mitsubishi alliance, whose share shrank to 19% from 23% in 2019.

De Meo, a former Volkswagen executive who turned the German automaker’s Seat brand around, has been tasked with helping Renault turn a new page after a troubled spell.

Former boss Carlos Ghosn was ousted and arrested in Japan in 2018 on charges of financial malpractice, which he denies. Ghosn left behind a sprawling model range with low margins and Renault racked up heavy losses when global demand for cars fell.

De Meo’s turnaround plan – which he has termed a “Renaulution” – is to lay off thousands of workers, reduce the range of models, and improve cooperation between alliance partners on vehicle production.

Renault said this month it would combine three of its plants in northern France into a new legal entity, Renault ElectriCity, that will produce 400,000 vehicles a year by 2025.

The company has previously said it will use purpose-designed vehicle platforms, known as CMF B-EV and CMF A, to produce small and affordable EVs.

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