Bolloré and Renault Sign Electric Car Alliance

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France’s second-largest car-manufacturer formalizes industrial alliance with Breton company

Renault and Bolloré have formalized their industrial partnership by announcing yesterday (Tuesday) the assembly of the next generation of Bolloré’s highly successful “Bluecar” electric car in Renault’s factory in Dieppe.

This assembly will begin “starting from the second half of 2015”, explained Renault’s CEO Carlos Ghosn during a joint press conference in Paris with his Bolloré counterpart Vincent Bolloré. Ghosn said that this arrangement – a marker for the future – will result in a “significant reduction of our (production) costs”. For his part Vincent Bolloré expressed his “great satisfaction” to be part of such an alliance; something he said will allow “us to develop even more quickly” as well as benefiting from the considerable psychological and technical gravitas of one of France and Europe’s industrial giants.

Visitors to Paris will be familiar with the sight of the Bluecar as it is the car used by the electric car-sharing company Autolib’ in the Ile-de-France region. Up to now, it has been assembled in a factory outside Turin.

The Renault factory in Dieppe has been making small cars up to now and is modest by their standards, with about 300 employees. The new deal should see them taking on no more than an additional “few dozen people” according to head of production of the soon-to-be-reborn Renault Alpine Bernard Ollivier – another car to be built in Dieppe.

Sunny future: Bolloré CEO Vincent Bolloré in Brittany

Sunny future: Bolloré CEO Vincent Bolloré in Brittany

Renault seems to have backed a winning horse in its association with the Breton company. Having started out over 100 years ago as a paper manufacturer, it has evolved with the times and is now positioned to take advantage of current trends for electric vehicles and car-sharing. It plans to have Autolib’ in place in London in 2015 and intends to roll out the service in Singapore after that. The two companies have big plans to conquer the European electric car and car-sharing markets, intending to form a company (70% Bolloré and 30% Renault) for that very purpose.

Bolloré hasn’t cut off its ties with its Italian partners Pininfarina either. Vincent Bolloré pointed out that the contract with the Italians was still running alongside the new Renault partnership until the end of 2016 and that the Italian factory would be also building the “Bluesummer” – an open-top version of the Bluecar, as well as other possible future variants.

After the great summer we’ve just had, we might yet see the sight of a Bluesummer on Dublin streets.

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