PARIS -- Renault’s first hybrid models are going on sale this month after a short delay because of coronavirus-related factory shutdowns. The cars arrive just as France starts to roll out generous subsidies that favor electrified models. Germany and Spain also plan to launch programs that assist with the purchase of more fuel-efficient vehicles.
The cars -- the Clio hybrid small hatchback, the Captur plug-in hybrid small SUV and the Megane plug-in hybrid station wagon -- use Renault’s proprietary e-Tech system, which packages two electric motors around the transmission.
“These are the right vehicles at the right time and the right price,” Gregoire Ginet, director of powertrain marketing for Renault Group, said Wednesday at a media test drive near Paris. He said coronavirus-induced plant shutdowns in Turkey, where the hybrid Clio is made, and Spain, where the Captur plug-in hybrid is produced, had delayed plans for an early-June launch of the models by two or three weeks. The delay won't impact sales, he added.
Renault released official emissions figures and prices for the models this week, with the hybrid Clio starting at 22,600 euros ($25,400) in the Zen entry-trim level and going up to 28,200 euros for the upscale Initiale Paris variant. In comparison, the least expensive conventionally powered Clio is 14,100 euros, while the most expensive version cost 27,100 euros.
As a hybrid, the Clio is not eligible for French electric-vehicle bonuses, but buyers can take advantage of a scrapping program to save up to 3,000 euros. Competitors include the Toyota Yaris hybrid, which starts at 21,150 euros (a new Yaris is coming this year), and the Honda Jazz, at 21,990 euros.
The Clio's CO2 emissions are 96 grams per kilometer on the Worldwide harmonized Light vehicle Test Procedure (WLTP) cycle.
The Captur plug-in hybrid will start at 33,700 euros in France, with an Initiale Paris version costing 37,200 euros. Captur models with internal-combustion engines start at 18,600 euros and rise to 32,000 euros for a top-of-the-line diesel with an automatic transmission.
However, the plug-in hybrid Captur is eligible for a 5,000 euro French scrapping bonus, plus a 2,000 euro incentive for plug-in hybrids. Its sole competitor is the Kia Niro plug-in hybrid crossover, which starts at 35,990 euros in France.
The Captur’s CO2 emissions are 32g/km on the WLTP cycle.
The plug-in hybrid Megane compact station wagon will be launched in September, with a hatchback version due in the first quarter of 2021. The electrified Megane starts at 38,500 euros, compared with 23,500 for the base model with a conventional engine. The most expensive non-hybridized Megane costs 35,000 euros.
Among compact segment competitors, the Volkswagen Golf GTE plug-in hybrid starts at 42,450 euros in France, while the plug-in hybrid version of the Hyundai Ioniq starts at 36,800 euros. The Toyota Prius plug-in hybrid starts at 36,000 euros.
The Megane plug-in hybrid, which uses the same powertrain as the Captur, is also eligible for up to 7,000 euros in trade-in subsidies and electrification bonuses. Its CO2 emissions on the WLTP cycle are 28g/km, slightly better than the less aerodynamic Captur’s.
Renault has offered a 48-volt mild hybrid on diesel versions of the Scenic and Grand Scenic minivans for several years, but the new models are the brand's first full-hybrid and plug-in hybrid offerings.