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Béatrice Foucher: “For Renault, innovation simply means better addressing customer needs”

Smart buildings
04/03/2015

Finding innovative solutions in terms of energy and environmental efficiency is the aim of the partnership initiated by GDF SUEZ and Renault in 2002. Electric vehicles are, by nature, at the heart of Renault’s innovation strategy. As she compares the electric vehicles’ program to a start-up faced with specific problems within the large automotive group, Béatrice Foucher, VP Product Planning, highlights the impact of innovation on mobility.

What is Renault’s definition of innovation?

Béatrice Foucher: Renault’s signature conceptis thatinnovation is not necessarily a technology race. To us, innovating means better meeting our customers’ expectations, offering them solutions that make a break but fit their budget. These proposals may differ from one region to another (Europe, Brazil, China…). Renault’s three fields of innovation are: the reduction of the automotive sector’s environmental impact, innovation made accessible to all and greater mobility comfort.

How does innovation impact Renault’s businesses?

Béatrice Foucher: Renault currently sells over 2,7 million cars. In 2014, only 18 000 of these cars were electric. Although that number is still low, it is highly important to us. Beyond the societal revolution it embodies, Renault’s electric vehicles’ program can be seen as a start-up within a large company. This program demands that we think differently and invent new customer relations, whereas with individuals or fleets. We believe that tomorrow’s biggest challenge lies in global environmental impact and energy management. This is the reason why we work jointly with GDF SUEZ. We aim at reducing consumption, enhancing vehicles’ purchase and resale costs, working on health and environmental issues and, finally, guiding the recycling process of end-of-life vehicles. We are also working on universal charging solutions and new battery technologies, extending range and reducing charging times and costs.

How does innovation transform daily lives in the automotive mobility sector?

Béatrice Foucher: One observes today that the purchasing power of young adults has been decreasing due to the increased share allotted to housing in their budget. Also some expensive items are now essential (telephony) while cars have become optional. This trend fosters the emergence of new services such as car sharing, Autolib’ (self-service car rental) in Paris, Lyon and Bordeaux. Today, this innovative system mainly uses electric vehicles -as cars recharge while unused, there is no user constraint. The visual presence of electric vehicles strengthens collective consciousness that more attention should be paid to health and environment. Within this energy-transition context, Renault needs GDF SUEZ’ vision and know-how.

© Renault Marketing 3D−Commerce

Source: Hugo Whitemore