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‘Tesla is our friend,’ says Renault and Nissan boss Ghosn

Renault-Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn promises more electric cars, and hits back at Red Bull’s criticism of his F1 engines

Renault-Nissan chief Carlos Ghosn is, by car-boss standards, a blast of fresh air: frank, no-nonsense, and not afraid of an ambitious soundbite.

And as the man ultimately responsible for the world’s best-selling fully electric car – the Nissan Leaf – and zany goodness like the Renault Twizy, when Ghosn starts talking about the future of electric cars it’s worth listening.

Speaking on the eve of the final Formula E race, we asked Ghosn if Renault’s participation in EV racing means we can expect faster, more exciting electric Renaults for the road. An electric Clio or Megane RS, maybe?

“No, we’re going for the heart of the market,” Ghosn replied. “That’s where there are volume sales. We’re happy that other people are going premium – it shows EVs are versatile, and exciting.

“Tesla is not our rival – it is an ally. But we need to sell what we have developed, and sell it well. That’s already going well for us – our EV sales are up 72 per cent in the year to May 2015, and we have a 95-98 per cent customer satisfaction rating for Kangoo and Zoe.

“In the future, will we grow our EV offering? For sure, but we will focus on the volume sellers.”

Those volume sellers, of course, are small, cheaper cars designed for cities and urban hiring schemes. So don’t expect any RenaultSport-badged EVs, nor an electric Alpine, any time soon.

Ghosn was equally unequivocal on Renault’s future in F1, and keen to hit back at Red Bull’s criticism over the French team’s engines, amid claims the 2010-2013 champions will pull out of the sport if its fortunes don’t change.

“In F1, as an engine supplier, you’re forgotten when you win, and highlighted when you lose,” Ghosn deadpanned.

“But we will remain in the sport to honour our contracts. There has to be a return on the investment. And Formula One itself needs to give a fairer share of the TV rights to those of us who are turning up to create the show.”

You listening, Bernie?

Regardless of its continued (or otherwise) participation in F1, Renault will grow its standing in Formula E, Ghosn promised. Renault, which builds the standard powertrains, and won the constructor’s championship this year with the e.dams team, ‘has had a good season’, Ghosn argued.

“Little by little, we are getting more attention. And I hope that other cities will embrace [the series], even ones that are averse to noise and cars. But for sure, Renault will be more involved in Formula E in the future…”

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