Focusing Electric Mobility Research on Industrialization Issues: A Renault case study

Publication Type:

Conference Paper


Gerpisa colloquium, Paris (2018)


Competitiveness, EV industrialization scenarios, EV manufacturing, EV value chain


After more than a century long fluid phase of emergence and unmet expectations, electric mobility dynamic enters now a transitional phase as demonstrated by the significant breakthrough at different levels introduced in the 2010 decade. Boosted by the lithium-ion battery technology, genuine EV cars have been designed and substantial scale production units have been invested. An electric mobility system has been shaped including charging infrastructures, services to easier usage of EV along with specific urban rules favoring EV and, regulations have been issued which heavily incent OEM and customer to produce and buy EV.
A systemic change is in progress that clearly raises the competitive value of EV against ICE and sustains the scale up of EV market, yesterday below 1% of the global sales, and forecasted between 10% and 15% of the worldwide market by 2025.
Consequences on strategy and management research have been drawn, pointing out the necessity of a deeper analysis of EV product process and value chain issues (Alochet Midler GERPISA’s 26th International Colloquium 2018).
Renault case study, methodology and first results: strong impacts, no disruption yet
We have conducted an empirical study of real cases of technological transition for BEV manufacturing processes by selecting three vehicles launched by Renault in the early 2010’: a refitted vehicle (KANGOO), a genuine BEV (ZOE) and a disruptive BEV (TWIZY) which are quite interesting since they have adopted different make or buy scenarios for the value chain of e-traction main components (e-powertrain, battery and associated management systems).
Firstly, we set the framework of the dominant design of the automotive manufacturing process including in our scope, main chassis components, engines, gearboxes along with vehicles and providing a reference for comparative studies.
Based upon detailed study and analysis of the manufacturing process of these vehicles, we have constructed the manufacturing scenario for each of them enabling a comparison with the reference. We also made some DST (Design Standard Time) and cost analysis to qualify and quantify the main differences impacting manufacturing performances.
The vehicle manufacturing process is somehow impacted by the introduction of the BEV version of the already existing ICEV and by the mix of the BEV with an existing high volume ICEV. However, we haven’t identified disruptions and we can state that the reuse strategy of existing manufacturing capacities and technologies is, at the time being, industrially well fitted and economically viable. For the more disruptive vehicle we studied, a new dedicated manufacturing process was implemented taking advantage of quite well known manufacturing technologies making the whole process accessible for an incumbent.
The very intrusive impact of connected/autonomous vehicle combined with the introduction of new technologies necessary to achieve mass reduction of vehicles will lead to more complex vehicles. Achieving emission reduction targets through always more stringent regulations for ICEV (EURO7 for instance) and forthcoming modular, architectural even radical innovations on BEV will lead to much more differentiated platforms between ICEV and BEV than the existing ones. Therefore, we can anticipate multiple complex competitiveness issues in mixed manufacturing for incumbents when market shares will be more balanced between ICEV and BEV.
The final assembly of the battery pack, from individual modules to a packaged operational battery, is quite well known for the electrochemical industry but still a new process in the automotive world. However, the utilized assembly technologies are well known by carmakers and the new battery testing and charging technologies have demonstrated to be quite accessible, thanks to a strong support from expert suppliers.
The in-house assembly of the e-powertrain has led to the introduction of a new manufacturing technology in the automotive world: rotor and stator winding. By far, this is the most complicated technology pulled by in-house e-powertrain assembly which requires a complex learning curve. Depending upon preferred make or buy strategies, high volume production of e-motors could be disruptive for incumbent carmakers.
Due to the lowest number of parts in an e-powertrain compared to ICE, there is a potential risk of some overcapacity in incumbent machining assets when market shares will be more balanced between ICEV and BEV.
In the chassis area, product modifications also impact suppliers manufacturing processes. For example, in a BEV, the braking amplifier is no longer a vacuum pump activated by the ICE but an electric booster or vacuum pump. Supplying such a machine in higher volume conditions accordingly to cost, quality and delivery standards of the automotive industry will require deep transformations in manufacturing technologies.
An initial study, need to go many steps beyond
This first study of three different scenarios of technological transition for VE manufacturing processes, based upon Renault vehicles, demonstrates different industrialization strategies which were appropriate accordingly to state of the art, expected sales volumes, time to market and competitiveness issues of the different projects at the decision’s making momentum.
It also provides some criteria for a comparison of their respective performances; in a future work, we aim at establishing an enhanced metrics used to systematize comparative performance analysis between different existing and/or forthcoming projects as well as corporate strategies of EV makers. This metrics will enable us to have a better understanding of the strategies of the different carmakers (first movers, followers) and identify whether incumbents and newcomers behave differently or not.
Information provided in this paper offer valuable figures and conclusions about EV industrialization scenarios. Nevertheless, we have been investigating what is currently visible for one single OEM: we have to go much further to derive and draw robust conclusions. We want to identify forthcoming potential disruptions in product, manufacturing technologies and value chains which could impact industrialization scenarios. Therefore, we plan to conduct a systemic analysis of EV business models, EV concepts and automotive design knowledge relying on C-K methodology to identify what are the upcoming key disruptions and their impact on EV industrialization scenarios.
Both incumbents and newcomers have made multiple announcements of strategical partnerships, alliances, and joint-ventures in e-traction technologies production which confirm that value chain will be disrupted with impacts on industrial ecosystems which are not yet visible. Our future work will investigate what could be the different scenarios (make, buy, and ally) for the value chain of the strategic components of the EV mobility and associated impacts on the industrial ecosystem.

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