PARIS -- Renault Group CEO Luca de Meo does not see price parity between electric cars and combustion engine models coming anytime soon.
“I do not see this parity getting close,” he told reporters on the sideline of the Paris auto show.
De Meo said that eight years ago the industry was expecting the cost per kilowatt-hour of battery power to fall by $100 within five years, but prices are not there yet.
Renault was the first European automaker to offer a full-electric car with the Zoe, which launched in 2013.
The company plans to become an electric-only brand in Europe by 2030, five years before the EU’s expected ban of internal combustion engines that is planned for 2035.
“I am taking the company there, but ultimately it will be the market, the customers, who will decide if they want to be electric-only,” de Meo said.
Renault will launch the Renault 5 in 2024 and the Renault 4 in 2025, two small models that are electric reworkings of two of the brand’s most iconic models.
De Meo said that the platform for small electric cars costs about 30 to 35 percent less than the compact architecture used by the Megane E-tech. Despite this, the price of these small EVs will remain considerably higher than combustion models of the same size.
"I can come up with better battery chemistry and better power electronics, but these gains would be erased when the price of cobalt doubles in just six months," de Meo said.
Currently, raw materials make up about 80 percent of the cost of a battery, the CEO said.
In his view, tailoring battery size to the customer could be the way forward.
“From an environmental point of view, having vehicles with batteries of 150 kWh to 200 kWh is simply environmental nonsense,” he said.
A better recharging infrastructure could permit automakers to lower the battery size -- and thus the price -- of future EVs, he added.