Mercedes refuses participation in Renault’s FlexEvan electric van project

Jun 4, 2023, 5:06 PM UTC
3 mins read
Mercedes refuses participation in Renault's FlexEvan electric van project
(Image Credit: Mercedes-Benz Group AG)

Mercedes-Benz Group, a longstanding partner of Renault in the van segment, has decided not to participate in Renault’s new electric van project called FlexEvan, according to two sources familiar with the matter, Reuters reported. Instead, Mercedes will be focusing on its own premium electric vehicle VAN.EA. The FlexEvan project, slated for a 2026 launch, is being developed for Renault and Nissan brands, with the possibility of involving Renault Trucks, a subsidiary of Sweden’s Volvo.

A spokesperson from Mercedes confirmed that the group has no intention of introducing a mid-sized or large van on a platform other than VAN.EA.

This latest development comes after the decline in demand for diesel engines that Renault had been supplying to its German partner. Additionally, the joint project on Twingo-Smart cars between Renault and Mercedes has come to an end. At present, their only shared project is the small Citan van, which is about to launch its first electric version.

Renault has been actively seeking to expand its collaboration with Mercedes in the van segment but has been unsuccessful thus far. One of the sources stated that the majority of the cooperation between the two companies in the light commercial vehicles segment has already been accomplished.

Under the leadership of CEO Luca de Meo, Renault has been forging new partnerships beyond its longstanding alliances with Nissan and Daimler, both of which were championed by his predecessor Carlos Ghosn.

However, there are currently no concrete projects being actively explored between Renault and Mercedes, according to a third source. Nevertheless, the introduction of new incentive programs such as the U.S. Inflation Reduction Act and similar measures in Europe could potentially lead to cooperation between the two companies in sharing manufacturing facilities.

This decision by Mercedes to opt out of Renault’s FlexEvan project showcases their focus on advancing their own premium electric vehicle offering, VAN.EA. While the details behind Mercedes’ decision remain undisclosed, it is clear that the two companies have not been able to strengthen their partnership in the van segment beyond the existing shared project of the small Citan van.

Renault, under the leadership of Luca de Meo, has been actively exploring new partnerships and expanding its collaborative efforts beyond the traditional alliances with Nissan and Daimler. However, for now, the prospect of a joint venture between Renault and Mercedes seems uncertain. The possibility of future cooperation, particularly in terms of sharing manufacturing facilities, may be influenced by upcoming incentive programs aimed at promoting the development and adoption of electric vehicles.

As the automotive industry continues to navigate the transition towards electric mobility, partnerships and collaborations play a crucial role in driving innovation and sharing resources. It remains to be seen how this decision by Mercedes will impact their relationship with Renault and whether new avenues for cooperation will emerge in the future.

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