Renault unveils new R5 as it taps past success for electric future

By Thomson Reuters Feb 26, 2024 | 3:03 AM

By Gilles Guillaume

GENEVA (Reuters) – Renault unveiled its highly anticipated new electric R5 on Monday at the Geneva Motor Show, a model directly inspired by its 1972 bestseller that the French automaker hopes will bring a major boost to its electric vehicle sales.

The small sedan, promised in 2021 as part of Renault’s turnaround plan, openly copies design elements from the R5 and the brand’s iconic Super 5 – vertical tail-lights, bright colours. The two models sold more than nine million cars between 1972 and 1996.

Unlike other brands that have successfully relaunched iconic models like the Mini or the Fiat 500, Renault has avoided what the brand’s design director refers to “retrofuturism.”

Revamping an old model must be done “at the right time, where it resonates correctly in the history of the brand,” said Gilles Vidal, during a presentation on the R5 near Paris.

Central to Renault’s efforts to build affordable EVs, the small sedan will not be immediately available in its cheapest version.

The first version that will launch in the second half of the year will have a 52 kilowatt hour (KWh) battery with a range of 400 km (249 miles). The company has said this will be followed “as quickly as possible” by a less powerful version – 40 KWh with 300 km of range – for 25,000 euros ($27,045).

The R5, which is capable of bidirectional charging so owners can sell their battery’s energy back to the grid, will use an Envision battery pack. That pack will be imported until Envision’s gigfactory in northern France starts production in 2025.

Renault is the only major European automaker presenting at this year’s Geneva show, the first since before the coronavirus pandemic in 2019.

($1 = 0.9244 euros)

(Reporting by Gilles Guillaime; Writing by Nick Carey; Editing by Richard Chang)