Renault & Volvo to jointly develop electric transporters

The Renault Group and the Volvo Group are jointly developing a new generation of electric vans based on a software-based 800-volt platform. An independent joint venture is to handle the large-scale project. Production is scheduled to start in 2026.

Image: Renault Group

Renault Group is already considered a strong player in light commercial vehicles. The Volvo Group (not to be confused with Volvo Cars) is at home in the truck market. Together, the two sides are now announcing the creation of an independent joint venture aimed at developing a new generation of electric vans and related services. They want to place a special focus on the smart capabilities of the vehicles. The establishment of the joint venture has been bindingly agreed, but is still subject to the usual regulatory approvals.

Identical announcements from the two groups state that the joint venture, which will be headquartered in France, is expected to begin operations in early 2024 and will initially be owned 50 per cent each by Renault Group and Volvo Group. Both groups agree to invest 300 million euros each in the new company, which will operate under its own name, over the next three years. At a later stage, the French logistics company CMA CGM (with a 120 million euro investment) is to join as a third partner. The search for further investment and business partners is ongoing, the initiators say.

Renault and the Volvo Group have so far only given a few concrete key data on the planned vans themselves. What is certain is that the all-electric vans with different bodies will be built on a new, software-based 800-volt platform with several battery sizes. There is talk of “a completely new family of all-electric and software-defined vehicles”. And: the skateboard platform offers “high modularity for different body types at low cost and a breakthrough in safety requirements”.

The goal, according to the announcements, is a new level of connectivity so that the vehicles “have unprecedented capabilities to monitor delivery activity and user business performance, reducing global usage costs for logistics companies by 30%”. The connected services are designed to provide customers with “lifetime up-to-date vehicles”.

Cost reduction may also be the keyword for the cooperation between the two big players. At least, that is how some passages in the communications from Renault and the Volvo Group can be interpreted. Instead of developing alone, they want to join forces to pioneer a completely new generation of all-electric vans and the associated services. Because: “By 2030, the European market for electrified vans will triple, which promises a huge opportunity for a brand-new LCV offering, especially aimed at the booming e-commerce and rental business.” Business customers needed electrified, safer and fully connected vehicles.

According to the initiators, the planned joint venture will operate with the agility of a start-up and at the same time benefit from its large shareholders. They say they want to invest jointly in research and development and bring their existing experience, services and industrial presence to the new company. Renault claims to be the main contributor of know-how for the development and manufacture of the electric platform, while Volvo Group is expected to score with its customer base of logistics providers, its global service network and experience in operational and productivity services.

“We are excited to take yet another step in our journey towards sustainable transport solutions through the intended establishment of a new company,” expresses Martin Lundstedt, President and CEO of Volvo Group. He said Volvo Group is committed to continuing to offer its customers complete transport solutions that help them decarbonise their value chains. “We see a growing demand for clean, efficient, and safe urban transportation. Partnership and collaboration are key to achieve this.”

Renault Group CEO Luca de Meo says electrification and digitalisation are paving the way for a revolution in the light commercial vehicle market. “Renault Group intends to lead this transformation while ensuring a robust and effective value creation. Today, we are very proud to embark in this journey with Volvo Group to bring the best of solutions to our professional customers. We also look forward to CMA CGM joining the company. The new company is the start-up minded, unmatched combination of the complementary assets of 3 champions: a leading truck maker, expert in tailored services, a champion of the global supply chains, and a European EV pioneer & LCV leader. All the ingredients are there to come up with something truly unique.”

Nevertheless, it is emphasised that the Volvo Group and Renault remain competitors in all other areas. This does not, of course, apply to the area of heavy commercial vehicles. Renault and Volvo have been cooperating in this field for decades: Renault Trucks, as you know, belongs to the Volvo Group. And through Renault Trucks, there has also been a link in the light commercial vehicle sector for more than 35 years, as evidenced by the distribution of the Renault Master and the Renault Trafic in both networks.


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