Tesla and General Motors have struggled to sell electric vehicles at a profit, but Groupe Renault claims that they can make money selling electric cars. Renault board member Gilles Normand told the Süddeutsche Zeitung newspaper in Munich that Renault has an acceptable profit margin on EV sales. This belies the accepted wisdom that EV sales require government incentives to remain competitive while vehicles like the Chevrolet Bolt or Opel Ampera E have failed to turn a profit and Tesla is not yet able to cover the cost to manufacture and market a luxury electric car.
This is good news for Renault (and for electric enthusiasts). The Renault-Nissan alliance has already sold half a million electric cars, including the Renault Zoe and Nissan Leaf, and Nissan is the market leader in EV sales. The automaker has big plans to increase the pace of electrification in response to shifting market demands and emissions regulations. The company aims to electrify one-fifth of their lineup, and they expect that half of their models will come with a hybrid motor by 2022. Nissan took a controlling stake in Mitsubishi Motors in 2016 and, unlike Renault and Nissan, the latest member of the alliance has a suite of hybrid vehicles. We’re sure their new corporate overlords are already working on hybrid powertrains.
Renault will face stiff competition from other automakers with big plans to electrify their lineup, including General Motors, Volkswagen, BMW, and Mercedes—no wonder Normand was eager to brag about the company’s profits in a Bavarian newspaper. But if the automaker has managed to keep their current crop of electrics in the black, they might have a leg up on the competition. Just take this with a grain of salt, as Renault hasn’t supplied reporters with any numbers on their electrifying sales just yet.