Several automotive icons return this decade as the auto industry flips the switch to electric vehicles. The Ford Bronco, Renault 5, Hyundai Pony, MG B (Cyberster), MINI Traveller, VW Bulli/Bus, (and possibly VW Beetle and VW Thing/181) are some examples.
As part of its new EV-centred “Renaulution” strategic plan, Renault Group announced the Renault 5 small car revival, confirming that it would launch in early 2024. Soon after the launch, the Renault 4 nameplate would make a comeback to the market.
Background & Design
At the Renault eWays ElectroPop event on 30 June 2021, Luca de Meo, CEO, Renault Group, stopped short of explicitly confirming a pure electric Renault 4 launch. Teasing the next-gen Renault 4 with a picture and a video on the screen behind him, he said:
We will revive another magic, I’d say iconic, star. Internally we named it “4ever,” to signify our intention to make it an instant classic.Luca de Meo, CEO, Renault Group (Renault eWays ElectroPop)
The Renault 4, the “Blue-jean car” produced between 1961 and 1992, will reappear as a small electric crossover. The next-gen 4 and 5 is Renault’s two-pronged approach to create a dominant position in the B-Segment electric car market. The all-new Renault 5 would be a hatchback-like model, while the all-new 4 would be a rugged derivate with crossover genes for a wide appeal. Renault would sufficiently differentiate the looks and shape to avoid significant cannibalization.
In May 2021, the next-gen Renault 4 electric’s logo, or what seems like it, was unearthed from a trademark application made in France. A few days later, patent pictures of a new small Renault EV surfaced on the web, likely of the upcoming design concept of the Renault 4 EV.
The logo of the rumoured next-gen Renault 4 is similar to the new brand logo featured on the Renault 5 concept car revealed in January 2021. Both models could see a minimalist branding approach with their names inscribed in the logo on the tailgate to communicate the brand and model name. A trademark application is never a confirmation of a launch, but it can be taken as a hint in this case as there have been other developments.
TopElectricSUV.com has already presented a speculative rendering of the Renault 4 electric production avatar, capturing its simplistic design and styling cues. We made only the obvious changes as the shape and overall design look production-oriented. A lower intake with vertical ribs, modified front bumper, conventional door handles, silver roof bars, shark-fin antenna, parking sensors, and production car wheels complete the transition.
The rendering includes the design elements we saw in the leaked patent images. However, it still might not be the final unofficial preview. According to a report from L’Automobile, Renault Group hasn’t frozen the design yet. Gilles Vidal, Renault Design Director, Groupe Renault, could lock the design after receiving feedback for the concept version.
Renault Group is putting the Renault 4 back in the public’s mind as it is making arrangements for the rebirth of the classic. An advertising campaign in 2021 called ‘The Chase’ included a scene where the hero runs after a Renault Zoe, takes a lift in a Renault 4L, and later switches the seat with the driver. In the outro, the yellow Renault 4L is the only other car on a block that’s awash with Celadon Blue Renault Zoes. More such easter eggs are awaited till a formal announcement is made on the resurrection.
Video Source: youtube.com/Renault France
With distinctive, eccentric designs, Renault Group is confident about strengthening its presence in Europe’s EV market with its upcoming EVs, especially the neo-retro models.
Democratization is the Renault touch to electrification. We bet on iconic design and aim at the top of the charts. Zoe, R5, and more models to come are designed to hit the core of the market. That’s where they can make, we believe, a true difference and have a positive impact.Luca de Meo, CEO, Renault Group (Renault eWays ElectroPop)
Renault Air4 concept
Video Source: YouTube/TheArsenale_Aero
In late-2021, Renault built a new type of concept car to remind people of the 4L (and its 60th anniversary). The Renault Air4 is not a typical design study but one that takes off! The company collaborated with motion design hub TheArsenale to create the flying showcar.
The Air4 is a reimagination of the classic 4L, with the same lines and proportions found in the original 4L, but it excels in innovation. Entirely made of carbon-fiber, it uses two-blade propellers, one at each corner, instead of wheels. The chassis sits in the middle of the rota frame, and the driver can enter it by lifting the reimagined, front-hinged shell. 22,000 mAh lithium polymer batteries with a total capacity of 90,000 mAh power the Air4. The concept can reach an altitude of 700 meters with a take-off speed of 14 m/s. It offers a maximum vectorial thrust of 380 kg.
The idea behind the 4 was a sturdy car that could drive anywhere, one that is as hard as a denim weave. Renault Group should lock in similar parameters for the Renault 4 EV, reflected with simple and robust looks. It won’t need extra efforts to cover the maintenance aspect, as the electric powertrain would ensure that it is easy and cheap to run, just like the classic.
Akin to its predecessor, the Renault 4 EV would have a commercial application, opening up new avenues for the sales team. Renault could target the basic version towards ride-sharing and logistics firms.
One of the commercial versions of the all-new Renault 4 will be a delivery van, called ‘Fourgonnette’ in the class Renault 4 line-up. Renault would position the new small electric van below the Kangoo E-Tech and market it as a model for last-mile goods delivery. A report from Auto-Moto has some details.
As visible in the teaser, the new Renault 4 Fourgonnette (Renault 4 Van) or Renault 4L Fourgonnette (Renault 4L Van) would have a boxy load compartment with melted edges starting at the B-pillar, putting function above form. This traditionally designed cargo compartment wouldn’t work in the favour of aerodynamics, thereby reducing the range, but most customers will drive it in urban conditions where the charging infrastructure is dense. One feature the new 4 Fourgonnette may carry over from its predecessor could be a hinged rear roof flap, called “giraffe roof” (“Girafon”).
Renault 4 to ride on the CMF-BEV platform
Underpinning the 21st century-Renault 4 will be the same platform as the newly designed Renault 5 – CMF-BEV and under the differentiated exterior, expect to find plenty of shared components.
The CMF-BEV platform “is made for our affordable compact vehicles with a super cost-competitive battery and a high level of carryover from other models,” de Meo said at the Renault eWays ElectroPop event. This platform “will integrate the company’s latest software, the electric route planner, and contextual adaptive cruise control for better efficiency,” Gilles Le Borgne, EVP Engineering, Renault Group, said at the event.
In a bid to increase passenger safety, Renault Group plans to impose a speed limiter in every future Renault and Dacia model. At the company’s 2021 annual general meeting, De Meo revealed that the company would cap the top speed to 180 km/h in the future. We doubt the Renault 4, which is built for economy and not performance, would be too concerned by the development. The company would have even otherwise electronically limited the top speed for efficiency and battery life.
CMF-BEV platform benefits
- 33% cost reduction compared to the current-gen Zoe
- Up to 400 km (249 miles) range in the WLTP cycle
- No-compromise design, acoustics, and driving behaviour
- Modularity for extending application to different vehicle sizes and body styles
Renault Group says that the CMF-BEV platform leads to great roominess, weight reduction, thinner battery pack, and passive noise reduction by 50% compared to current-gen EVs. In addition, the company can reduce the vehicle cost by 33% compared to the Zoe.
LFP battery option ruled-out for the Renault 4 & 5
Renault Group has ruled out using Lithium Iron Phosphate cell chemistry in European models. In its view, LFP is not a favourable choice for the EVs it plans to sell in Europe. Philippe Brunet, SVP Powertrain & EV Engineering, Renault Group, briefly touched the LFP vs NMC subject at the Renault eWays ElectroPop event:
We spent more than one year with Nissan within the Alliance to study LFP and NMC. The stake is 10% in time. Of course, this is the advantage of LFP, but LFP has also several disadvantages. So it’s 30% heavier, the energy density is lower, at least 20%. This is much less performance at cold condition, where you can lose many EV range, and the ageing also is not favourable. So this is why, at the end, for the European market, we have no doubt that in terms of customer value and cost competitiveness, NMC definitely is the best choice.Philippe Brunet, SVP Powertrain & EV Engineering, Renault Group (Renault eWays ElectroPop)
Renault Group says that it has made a bold standardisation choice of relying only on the Nickel Manganese Cobalt chemistry. “One unique cell footprint will cover 100% of our launches across all segments for Renault Group on a yearly base. At cell level, we offer two thicknesses. That way our batteries will be either affordable for human and compact vehicles or highly performant for our higher-end or sporty models,” de Meo said at the Renault eWays ElectroPop event.
By the time the Renault 5 arrives, Renault Group plans to reduce the cost of its battery packs to less than USD 85/kWh at the module level, Sophie Schmidtlin, VP Research & Advanced Engineering, Renault Group, revealed at the Renault eWays ElectroPop event. The Renault 5 with an NMC-chemistry lithium-ion battery pack will have a range of about 400 km (249 miles) in the WLTP cycle. Before the Renault 4 EV release, the company will begin improving its battery packs.
We will improve our battery pack performance gradually from 2024. First, by updating our battery management system, the EV range will be increased, thanks to a new generation of algorithm and software -fully ASIL-D compliant to ensure the best level of safety. Second, by integrating functions such as cooling into the pack and introducing a wireless BMS, the cost of the pack will decrease thanks to less parts.Philippe Brunet, SVP Powertrain & EV Engineering, Renault Group
Lithium-ion batteries will continue powering Renault EVs for a few years. Most mainstream automakers don’t see solid-state batteries becoming ready for mass-scale production before the second half of the decade. Speaking to Autocar, de Meo said that lithium-ion battery technology is here to stay. A lot of investment has gone into lithium-ion battery technology, and it’s a progressive technology, not a disruptive one, de Meo explained. This technology “will continue for a long time,” the Renault Group boss added.
New motor and power electronics
Not only the battery packs but the technology of motors Renault Group employs in EVs would vastly improve before the Renault 4 EV arrives. EESM or Electronically Excited Synchronous Motors) embedding new techno-bricks are coming in 2024, Brunet said at the Renault eWays ElectroPop event.
The next generation of EESM motors, will gradually embed new techno-bricks from 2024, like stator hairpin, glued motor stack, brushless and hollow rotor shaft, still pushing for a better efficiency and a lower cost.Philippe Brunet, SVP Powertrain & EV Engineering, Renault Group
Renault Group is working on a new charging solution as well, under a One Box Project. It will integrate the inverter, DC-DC, and the onboard charger (OBC) into this unique box, which it plans to manufacture in-house. The company will use this charging system across all platforms and powertrains to achieve high economies of scale. It plans to use a new generation of power modules with silicon carbide (SiC) for the inverter and Gallium Nitride (GaN) for DC-DC and OBC with the One Box Project.
Lastly, Renault Group is working on a new, more compact electric powertrain. It is an all-in-one system that integrates the electric motor, the reducer, and the power electronics (One Box Project) in a single package. The new powertrain will be 45% smaller in volume (equivalent to Clio’s fuel tank volume), 30% less costly, and 45% more efficient. These improvements will translate to a 20-km (12-mile) longer range in the WLTP cycle.
The various advancements in power electronics in the coming years will reduce the charging time. Renault Group expects that its future EVs will achieve a range of 300 km (186 miles) with just ten minutes of charging. The higher-end models will likely get this rapid-charging capability first.
While the Renault 5 hatchback will arrive at dealerships in the first half of 2024, the reborn Renault 4 will enter showrooms in 2025. At the end of 2024, Renault Group will retire the Renault Zoe, de Meo confirmed during the announcement of H1 2021 results on 30 July 2021, as per an L’Automobile report.
Made in France
The Renault 4 will come back to showrooms as an authentic Made in France electric car, as per a Challenges report. It will roll out of the Renault Douai factory in northern France, the same production facility responsible for the Renault 5 electric.
The batteries of the Renault 4 electric will also see a local production. Renault Group has partnered with Envision AESC to develop a 9 GWh gigafactory in Douai. Envision AESC plans to open this French battery production facility in 2024 and increase its capacity to 24 GWh by 2030. Group Renault says that the batteries from this plant will go into its “affordable, European-made EV models.”
Envision AESC will provide us with an efficient, affordable solution for our CMF-BEV vehicles, starting with the Renault 5. This battery will be assembled in France with a carbon footprint reduction of up to 35% compared to the current ones which are equipping the Zoe.Luca de Meo, CEO, Renault Group (Renault eWays ElectroPop)
According to a report from Autocar, the all-new Renault 4, or the Renault 4ever as the media calls it, will slot above the Renault 5. Le Borgne revealed to Auto Express at the IAA 2021 that the EUR 20,000-25,000 is the price target for the Renault 5. The Renault 4 will rival the VW ID.2, the production version of the VW ID. Life concept, as well as its sister cars from the Seat and Skoda brands, so expect the price hover around the EUR 25,000 mark.
10 EV launches from Renault Group by 2025
By 2025, Renault Group plans to launch ten new pure electric models, and seven of them will be Renault models, de Meo announced at the Renault eWays ElectroPop event. “These vehicles will follow always the same principle,” he said. “They have to be attractive, competitive, and contributive to the group’s profitability. By 2025, in percentage, the contribution margin of the new electric Renault models will be in line with their IC equivalents,” he added. The Alpine division is slated to become an electric-only performance brand.
Renault to go all-electric by 2030
On January 13, 2022, Automotive News Europe published a report capturing the highlights of the interaction of Luca de Meo with a small group of reporters in Paris. de Meo said that Renault plans to go 100 percent electric in Europe by 2030. The CEO had said last July that it would be 90 percent, which is another sign that Euro automakers are ditching combustion models earlier than planned.
Renault 4 EV FAQs
What is the Renault 4 release date?
The all-new Renault 4 (Renault 4ever) will arrive in 2025. It will also have a commercial variant.
What will be the Renault 4 price?
The Renault 4 will be marginally pricier than the Renault 5, for which Renault Group is targeting EUR 20,000-25,000 price.
Featured Image Source: Renault Group