Renault is placing an experienced troubleshooter, Gilles Normand, in charge of its electric-vehicle business unit. Normand will begin his new job on Jan, 1, moving from his current role as chairman of the automaker's Asia/Pacific region.
"The EV market is now entering a new phase with longer battery ranges and emissions reduction objectives opening opportunities for zero emissions cars, around the world," Renault said in a statement.
Normand, 54, joined Renault's product planning department in 1988. He has held key roles for Renault and its partner Nissan during his career. After the establishment of the Renault-Nissan alliance in 1999, Normand was a member of CEO Carlos Ghosn's team dispatched to Japan to fix the ailing Japanese carmaker.
Two years ago Normand was appointed chairman of Renault's Asia-Pacific region to focus on the automaker’s China expansion including a new factory that opened in February.
As EV chief, Normand will report to Renault's sales and marketing chief Thierry Koskas, who is a former project director for Renault's EV business. Francois Provost will take Normand's role as Asia-Pacific chairman, Renault said. Provost is promoted from senior vice president of Asia-Pacific.
Renault and its alliance partner Nissan were early pioneers of EVs, investing 4 billion euros to develop battery-powered cars including the Zoe and the Nissan Leaf. But sales have failed to gain momentum because of EVs' high prices compared with internal combustion rivals as well as their short driving ranges.
Renault is nearly doubling the range of the Zoe on a single charge to 400 km (250 miles), up from 240km now.
The Zoe was Europe's top-selling EV through October with sales of 17,038, up 27 percent, followed by the Leaf at No. 2 with sales of 15,595, up 13 percent, according to JATO Dynamics market researchers.