Renault and Volvo partner on commercial EVs to be 'Tesla of vans'

He also suggested that Flexis’s software platform will be capable of learning a company’s routes and factoring in charging stops, reducing the burden on drivers.

All of Flexis’s vans will be based on a highly modular skateboard platform with 800V electricals – boosting charging speeds – and a choice of two battery pack sizes.

De Meo referred to the architecture’s adaptability as “lego-like” and Divry said it provides “a fantastic opportunity to build out globally”.

He added that it could be targeted at markets such as Brazil and North America, suggesting that a pick-up truck comparable to the Renault Alaskan (a badge-engineered Nissan Navara) could be on the cards.

De Meo said that the Flexis vans will initially be sold under the Renault Trucks brand. They will be offered to other brands as “white-label” products for rebadging, just as Renault’s existing vans are.

The start-up is currently in talks with Nissan, an Alliance partner of Renault, which currently sells the Kangoo as the Townstar.

Collaboration with third parties is key to making the project work. Equity in Flexis is currently split 45:45 between the Renault and Volvo groups, with CMA CGM taking the remaining 10%. The start-up continues to look for additional partners, however.

Flexis will also exploit economies of scale with the Renault Group’s cars wherever possible. Its vans will share batteries with Alpine’s performance EVs, for example, helping to fulfil the production capacity of Renault’s two gigafactories in northern France.

This gives the new division an edge over rival start-ups, de Meo said.

He explained: “When we [look] for a component for anything – for a steering wheel, for a seat, for a windscreen – we’re pretty heavy, so we can make the thing very competitive in terms of cost. And that’s the difference between inventing something new from a start-up: you have the big shoulders.”

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