Renault on Monday detailed the new software architecture of its future vehicles which it said will be on par by 2026 with that of electric-vehicle industry leader Tesla Inc.
The French carmaker, like most automakers, has been living for months under the threat of regular and drastic price cuts from its U.S.-based competitor. In France, the list price of the Tesla Model 3 now starts at the same level as the Renault Mégane electric, around 42,000 euros ($46,318).
Though Renault’s CEO, Luca de Meo, acknowledged at a presentation that Tesla remains a “challenge in the short term,” he said his company will not engage in a price war on electric vehicles.
“We don’t want to do what we did in the past, we want to sell our cars, we don’t want to give away our cars,” Renault’s head of engineering, Gilles Le Borgne, said to journalists and analysts at the same event.
A “software-defined vehicle” design will be at the heart of Renault’s future electric-vehicle entity, “Ampere,” the French automaker said. Developed with Alphabet Inc’s Google and Qualcomm Inc, it will considerably reduce complexity by allowing to have just 20 processors on board to run a car instead of the currently required one hundred.
This will also allow for updates to be made remotely without touching the hardware.
“This is similar with Tesla, in 2026 they are going to have the same approach, they have the same EV architecture approach,” said Renault’s chief digital officer, Frédéric Vincent.
“In 2026, we will be at the level of Tesla” in software defined vehicles,” le Borgne added.
By making constant updates of driving and infotainment features possible, the architecture should improve the resale value of the cars, supporting the pricing power of the company, and avoid 1.5 billion euros of Research & Development (R&D) expenses in a decade.
The total cost balance should nevertheless be neutral after taking into account the investment required for the new architecture and the price of the more advanced processors put aboard, Le Borgne said.
The “Flexevan” electric van program for last-mile delivery will inaugurate Renault’s new architecture around mid-2026, followed by the sporty Alpine brand and then by all models of the Renault brand.
(Reporting by Gilles Guillaume in Paris; Writing by Victor Goury-Laffont; Editing by Matthew Lewis)