Renault pursues hybrid vans route

Renault is pursuing diesel hybrid powertrain research for its light commercial vehicles. The company, which has emerged alongside it’s partner Nissan as a leader in the electric vehicle (EV), is now exploring hybrids for its future van range.

The European Commission approves €20.5 million of aid to Renault for the development of diesel hybrid commercial vehicles

The European Commission has decided that the aid granted by France to the motor vehicle manufacturer Renault to help it conduct the ‘HYDIVU’ research and development programme complies with the EU rules on state aid. The aim of this project is to develop a diesel hybrid technology for vans. At the end of the project, Renault will equip the Trafic and Master ranges with a new hybrid engine. The diesel consumption and CO2 emissions for these two models will be reduced considerably. The state aid addresses a genuine market failure without giving rise to an undue distortion of competition.

Renault will receive €20.5 million in state aid: €3.8 million in grants, €3.4 million in repayable advances for industrial research and €13.1 million in repayable advances for experimental development.

Commission Vice-President in charge of competition policy, Joaquín Almunia, said: ‘Almost 2 million commercial vehicles are sold each year in Europe. This project should result in a substantial reduction in their fuel consumption and CO2 emissions, thereby contributing to the EU’s targets for innovation, the environment and energy security, without affecting competition’.

The Commission examined the compatibility of the aid in relation to its Guidelines for state aid for research and development and innovation (R&D&I guidelines, see IP/06/1600 and MEMO/06/441). It concluded that the aid remedied a genuine market failure and that it was both necessary and sufficient to spur Renault to carry out an R&D project that it would not otherwise have launched of its own volition.

This is the third state aid case approved by the Commission that seeks to support R&D activities for the development of a new system of hybrid engines. However, the specific feature of the aid to Renault is that it is aimed at commercial vehicles, whereas the previous aid concerned passenger cars. In July 2013, the Commission approved aid to Valeo to conduct the ‘ESSENCYELE’ project (petrol hybrid engine) and aid to PSA for the ’50CO2Cars’ project (diesel hybrid engine).