When Renault Nissan announced plans to sell 1.5 million electric vehicles per annum by 2016 this certainly caught the headlines around the world. Many saw this as a major shift change in the battle for mass-market acceptance of electric vehicles, with hopes that other car manufacturers would follow suit. However, only a few months down the line and Renault has admitted that the market is not moving with the company's forecasts and plans for the future and initial forecasts of 1.5 million electric vehicle sales per annum by 2016 will not be met.
What does the future hold for Renault’s EV plans in the short to medium term? Is this a major setback for the electric vehicle industry and another false dawn?
Honesty is the way forward
The fact that Renault has admitted that the market is not moving as quickly as hoped and initial forecasts would be well short should be applauded by the general public and the mass media. Far too often the electric vehicle industry has been shrouded in mystery, there have been a lack of forecasts for the future and nobody has been willing or able to put their neck on the line. Renault, together with its partner Nissan, was willing to go that extra step and while it will not reach initial ambitious targets it is still moving forward.
Quote from ElectricForum.com : "While Renault was not perhaps the first company to grab the headlines in the electric vehicle market, there is no doubt that the company is perhaps more committed than any of the other major car manufacturers across Europe, North America and Asia. This is a company which seems to have bet the house on hybrid and electric vehicles and in all honesty, if current news flow is anything to go by, this seems to have been a good bet."
There was some disappointment when the company admitted that plans to introduce an electric version of the Twingo minicar have been put on hold for the time being. The fact is that while electric vehicles are more accepted in the wider marketplace than ever before, there are not as many people as hoped converting to electric vehicle for use in their traditional working day. Once this changes, and inevitably it will, we will then see an array of new forecasts, new vehicles and new strategies going forward.
Has this set the electric vehicle market back?
In years gone by, disappointments such as the announcement by Renault Nissan would have hit sentiment fairly hard. Investors would have stepped back and critics would have had a field day but the situation has changed over the last few years and electric vehicles are most certainly here to stay. The fact remains that there will be further disappointments in the future and the market is not growing as fast as hoped, although we also need to take into account the ongoing economic challenges around the world.
You could argue that Renault was being overoptimistic with its short to medium term forecasts but the fact remains that those forecasts grabbed the attention of investors, critics and fans of the industry. The figures suggested by Renault Nissan are most certainly achievable in the medium to long-term and in many ways reflect the growing financial investment by such motoring giants.
Critics of the industry will have a field day suggesting that the electric vehicle market is struggling, conversions are slowing, and we are back to square one. However, the reality is that the electric vehicle market is more accepted today than ever, investors are still willing to look at the long-term picture and companies such as Renault Nissan should be applauded for their ambitious plans. This is a short-term setback, there is no doubt about that, but the long-term picture still remains very positive.