Renault to invest more in electric series

LONDON (Reuters) - Renault will invest more in Formula E after a successful debut season for the world’s first electric racing series, chief executive Carlos Ghosn said on Sunday.

Carlos Ghosn, CEO of the Renault-Nissan Alliance, and current chairman of the Association of European Carmakers, attends a news conference of the European Automobile Manufacturers' Association (ACEA) in Paris, France, June 12, 2015. REUTERS/Charles Platiau

“We are going to be bigger in Formula E. You are going to see us much more involved in Formula E,” he told a news conference at the final round of the season in London’s Battersea Park.

“We are committed to this. We want to continue to promote zero emission and electric cars so there is no way you are going to see us less involved in Formula E. You can expect to see more investment and engagement,” he added.

The inaugural Formula E team title was won by e.dams Renault, with France’s four times Formula One world champion Alain Prost also involved.

“Everything we are seeing in Formula E is encouraging us to continue and invest more and be more present,” said Ghosn, whose company are assessing their Formula One options after struggling to be competitive with the new V6 turbo hybrid engines..

Renault will have new rivals in Citroen’s DS brand next season after they announced a partnership with Richard Branson’s Virgin team. Audi are also present in the series along with India’s Mahindra.

Branson told reporters on Saturday that Formula E would overtake Formula One in popularity within five years, a suggestion played down by others involved including Ghosn.

“I am not going to speculate about how big Formula One and Formula E are going to be. These are two different events with two different technologies for different kind of people,” said Ghosn.

He said Formula E made sense for the Renault Group and Renault-Nissan alliance, with the group a market leader in zero emission vehicles and last week announcing they had reached a milestone of 250,000 sales globally.

“We are encouraged by the acceleration of the growth of EV sales globally,” he said. “In Europe, Renault’s EV sales were up

72 percent to May 2015 versus May 2014, supported by strong government incentives particularly in France.”

Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Ken Ferris