Josep Maria Recasens left Seat two years ago to join Renault, where he assumed the direction of strategy for the French group, a position to which last January he added that of president of Renault Iberia. On Thursday he visited Automobile Barcelona and made it clear that Renault “does not give up selling hybrid cars thanks to the e-fuels beyond 2035”.
“We have the same chances as Romania to get the headquarters of Horse”
The change has coincided with a very complex situation. Right now, stopping Euro 7 on emissions is the first short-term objective?
I would frame Euro 7 within a maelstrom of uncertainty, volatility and technological change that the sector had never experienced. We come from a time of technological stability. And now, in the year 2023, post-covid, we find ourselves in the midst of a disruption of electric, connected and autonomous cars, along with a change in behaviour, behavior patterns or customer purchasing or mobility habits. What we are going to see in the next ten years we have never seen in the sector and the challenge we have is twofold. One, how to deal with all this new investment to continue to be competitive and sustainable over time. And secondly, how we transform from a corporate and technological point of view to face these new challenges. And this is the challenge that all traditional manufacturers are facing, those with more than 100 years of history. Call it Toyota, Nissan, Renault, Stellantis or Volkswagen.
How is Renault doing?
Historically the group was monolithic. Now we have decided to structure ourselves into 5 specific entities. That is why we created Ampere, dedicated 100% to electric vehicles. Horse for combustion and hybrid mechanics. Power for the Renault and Dacia brands. Alpine for the electrified high standing universe, and Mobilize, where we have brand finance and mobility services. Each one with its team, its responsibility and its governance. Because? Because each of them requires specifications to compete in a different sport. It is not the same to compete in the world of electric than in the world of the combustion engine. The value chain is different. Platforms and components are different.
Renault continues to bet on hybrids, although in principle they should stop selling in Europe in 2035.
Europe has decided, and I say Europe, I don’t say the client, to decarbonize and it seems very correct to me. And the lever that has been decided is that the car park must be electrified. If only tailpipe emissions are measured, electric is the most efficient solution. What I am saying is that we must face the trilemma: ensure the material, that is, the raw materials; decarbonize us; and that the solution is accessible to the client. To this day, the electric covers only part of the trilemma. It decarbonises, but it is not accessible. And in Europe we do not have the value chain of materials covered. For this reason, we defend the need to seek technological neutrality that allows us to respond to the trilemma. We are convinced that the continuity of the combustion engine, equipped with synthetic fuels, the e-fuels can also respond to decarbonization, in a complementary way, to electricity.
But synthetic fuels do not have zero emissions.
The problem is that emissions are only measured at the tailpipe. should look the cradle to the grave , that is, from the beginning to the end of the manufacturing process of an electric vehicle, from the batteries to recycling. If we took the whole process into account, a combustion engine with synthetic fuel would be equal to or better in terms of decarbonization than electric.
“I hope that Aramco will soon join the ‘joint venture’ that we have with Geely”
Why the alliance with the Chinese Geely for the combustion mechanics?
We have created Horse 50/50 to have complementary geographic coverage, sharing assets and technology and gaining a market size that would be very difficult to achieve alone. And soon Aramco can join as a third partner, which would provide the differentiating element, the e-fuel . Out of nowhere, we are configuring a TIER-1 (tier one supplier) the size of Valeo, for the next generations of engines.
Horse includes in Spain the engine factories in Valladolid and the gearbox factory in Seville. Will you set your headquarters in Spain?
It would be good news. Ferrovial has left, but Horse is implanted. Today we have the same chances as Romania, where Dacia is and is very important for the group. It is being analyzed.
Isn’t it too risky to still trust combustion engines?
No, because at Renault we have two parallel strategies. One focused on electric, with the ambition of manufacturing a million electric cars and making the Renault brand 100% electric in Europe by 2030. And in parallel we have an industrial technological strategy to continue developing, manufacturing and selling combustion vehicles. hybrids with e-fuels in Europe or wherever. Where there is demand.
“We have structured ourselves into five business entities to be able to compete better”
Until the regulation allows it. If from 2035 it is possible to continue selling combustion engines with e-fuel in Europe, it will be done. And going back to Euro-7, it is clear that it does not make sense for Brussels to ask us to invest money, waste time and capital in a technology that in Europe is finite in 2035. We are in 2023. Instead of wasting time and money, let me use this time and this money to be competitive in electric. Because otherwise it’s time that I’m wasting and giving it away to the Chinese competition, which already has a ten-year advantage over us.
At the moment there is no forecast of manufacturing electrics in Spain.
Renault wants to make one million electric cars by 2030 and we have industrial capacity in France to make about 600,000. You have to find out who will make the other 400,000
Are you negotiating aid?
Aid cannot be conceptually the element that makes you decide whether to go to one country or another. It has to facilitate the decision process and reinforce the competitiveness of the industrial actor. Because help can be useful in the short term, but if you are not good competitively, you will not last. For the electric vehicle to be made in Palencia or Valladolid, an ecosystem is needed, with a gigafactory of batteries, supplier parks and technology centers, as in France.
“The group is looking for factories outside France for 400,000 electric cars”