Renault transforms Cleon engine factory for electric era

Renault is preparing its Cléon engine plant (near Rouen, north-west of France) for the electric era. When one enters the plant, you’re welcomed by the slogan “Bievenue dans la megafactory”, an unequivocal wink at Tesla. Cléon has produced engines and gearboxes for 60 years and will soon be the electromotor specialist of the group, making more than one million motors by 2024.

“34% of the engines produced last year in Cléon were already electric (for the Zoë),” confirms the industrial director of the group Jose Vicente de los Mozos. “We will reach 60% in 2024 and 100% in 2030.” That’s a necessity when you know that Renault wants to sell only EVs in Europe by 2030.

Since January 2021, Renault already builds a hybrid engine here, used in four cars: the Clio, Captur, Mégane, and Arkana. And there is, of course, the electromotor for the Zoë. The latter will be replaced by a totally new engine, produced since a couple of weeks, the e-PT 160 (for 160 kW of power), the electric heart of the Mégane E-Tech. The new engine will also have a less powerful variant, the e-PT 100, to be used in the coming Renault 5 E-Tech. Both engines will also be used in Nissan products.

Technological revolution

Renault will thus produce the hybrid engine (codename 5DH) here and the new 6  engine, codenamed 6AK in the 100 kW version and 6AM in the 160 kW outfit. Both engine versions will be produced at 240 000 units per year by 2024. The old 5AX electromotor, used in the Zoë, which is to be phased out, will still be produced to propel the recently launched new Kangoo electric.

The Renault group already has a long experience with electric engines, and it wants to capitalize on this. The new generation is a synchronous motor with a wound rotor, a technique that the group has already been using for ten years. The difference with permanent magnet motors is the absence of rare earths and an abundance of copper, limiting the environmental impact and the production costs.

The new engine hast eight poles, a world first, which allows increasing the energetic density considerably. According to the Renault engineers, only BMW has already succeeded in producing a similar engine with six poles.

Key strategy

Electrification is a major strategic topic for Renault. Luca de Meo has launched a big reconversion scheme for its industrial sites in France. There is the ElectriCity project uniting the plants of Douai, Maubeuge, and Ruitz, where some half a million electric vehicles will have to be assembled by 2025. Cléon has to deliver engines and, if necessary, gearboxes for them.

Jose Vicente de los Mozos points out that Renault wants to control at least 80% of the value chain of the electric car through its own industrial apparatus or via cooperations. Renault will produce batteries, electromotors, power electronics, etc. It has also made deals with different raw materials suppliers and is developing a whole scheme for a circular economy, refurbishing and reusing old batteries in the Flins factory.

As of 2027, another new generation of electromotors will be built in Cléon, in cooperation with supplier Valeo, securing the future of the approximately 3 800 people that still work in the factory today.

Renault 5 Diamant

While Renault is preparing the new R5 E-Tech, it’s celebrating the 60th anniversary of its iconic R5 model that has been built over 5 million times. As a celebration, Renault has cooperated with French interior designer Pierre Gonalons to develop a one-off celebration variant of the original Renault Five.

Outside, the R5 Diamant resembles the original one a lot; inside, the designer has let himself go. Underneath, there is an entirely electric drivetrain. R5 Diamant will be auctioned, as are its digital NFT twins. The money goes to Give Me 5, Renault’s new project around societal responsibility.

The electric renault 5 Diamant celebrates the 60th anniversary of the original R5, while a modern, totally electric successor is in the pipeline /Renault

 

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