Renault wins Car of the Year, unveils new EV at Geneva auto show

GENEVA — Renault unveiled a new electric vehicle on Monday and its Scenic model won the Car of the Year award at the first Geneva auto show since 2019, giving a boost to the French automaker’s electrification plans.

Renault is the only European automaker with a presence at this year’s industry gala as giants Volkswagen and Stellantis, whose brands include Peugeot and Fiat, decided to skip the event.

The Renault Scenic, an electric SUV popular with families, won the coveted Car of the Year prize, the French group’s first since 2006.

It narrowly beat the BMW 5 Series sedan for the title, which was awarded by a jury of 58 European journalists who cover the auto sector.

The ceremony was held at the Geneva International Motor Show, which returned after a nearly five-year hiatus linked to the Covid pandemic.

Renault launched an electric version of the Scenic model in late 2023 and the first deliveries are due to begin in the coming spring.

The company, which aims to be a fully-electric brand in Europe by 2030, also unveiled a lithium-ion battery version of its popular R5 hatchback model in Geneva.

“This car is about Renault projecting itself into the future and taking millions of Europeans with us on the journey of energy transition,” Renault chief executive Luca de Meo said as two flashy yellow R5 models were brought to the stage at the auto show.

‘Affordable but also cool’

With vertical tail lights, bright colours and a spoiler, the new version embodies both the original designs from the first model released in 1972 and those from the turbo R5 that has won racing competitions.

To symbolise Renault’s electric shift, the vent grille on the bonnet of the original car was replaced by a charge indicator in the form of the number 5.

“History repeats itself,” de Meo said.

“It was the same 50 years ago: (a) complicated moment for the company. All crisis, inflation out of control and totally new expectations in the society towards automotive,” he said, speaking in English.

“It was packed with everything this company has in the guts and everything we love to do: frugal, smart, innovative, eccentric and joyful also,” he said.

He added: “It was at the same time affordable but also cool.”

The company now hopes the new R5 will give it another boost after it bounced back into profit in 2023 thanks to sales of top of the line vehicles and prices increases.

Renault earned a net profit of 2.2 bn euros ($2.4 bn) last year after suffering heavy losses in 2022 due to writing off its Russian assets.

The basic price of the R5 will be set at around 25,000 euros. — AFP