Renault Group and Tolv (formerly Phoenix Mobility) are industrializing the improvement of small passenger cars.

Auto & Business: What is the genesis of the recently announced partnership between your two brands? ?

Julie Vatier: At Renault Group, we started looking at the issue of resupply at the beginning of 2020. Looking closely at this market and the interest of our customers who are restricted by regulations such as low emission zones, this topic emerged as an opportunity for the aftermarket. create new services. It then took on a bigger dimension when the Flins Refactory project dedicated to circular economy activities was announced in the summer of 2020. At that time I met with all the reconstruction players in the French market and finally we decided to enter into discussions with this company. Tolv. We share the view that the LCV sector is best suited to absorb this new market, at least initially.

Wadie Maaninou: Discussions with the Renault Group began at a time when we at Tolv were trying to build confidence and position ourselves to push the industry towards high-performance and reliable conversion kits that are more aware of current safety and reliability standards. Targeting light commercial vehicles is ultimately the most interesting feasibility equation with less variety in terms of models and a repeatable commercial strategy. All in the logic of the circular economy.

Automotive and Business: For Tolv, a young startup, we understand the interest of relying on a large automotive group to industrialize and grow. Why did Renault Group choose to partner rather than develop in-house skills? ?

Julie Vatier: All scenarios have been studied. But reconstruction requires special skills. Above all, this is an important thing to remember about multi-brand “reverse engineering”. If the upcoming test will focus on Renault-branded cars, the improvement in its industrialized version will be possible only when the multi-brand vision of the proposal is reached. The second skill is homologation, which is very different from the series known by the manufacturers. So, in this still nascent market, we decided not to internalize this theme, but to complement each other with a more specialized player. In addition, Flins Refactory is an ecosystem designed to evolve with partners. The upgrade will also allow us to recover a number of internal combustion engine components that will go through a parts refurbishing plant and give them a second life. This is the real general story we are going to tell.

Automotive and Business: What model(s) will the first test phase be based on and what are the objectives? ?

Wadie Maaninou: We will begin a “Proof of Concept” phase, which will allow us to test the technical and regulatory feasibility of industry improvements at a defined perimeter. Because in the end, the challenge is never to electrify the vehicle, but rather to ensure its industrialization potential to regulatory standards equal to, or even superior to, the electric vehicle leaving the factory. We decided to initially focus on the Renault Master. From this year we will co-develop a special kit like we already have for Renault Trafic. From 2023, we will start the industrialization and marketing phase of the solution with the target of one thousand converted cars. This should allow us to confirm hypotheses about market engagement, customer interest and satisfaction. We will then be able to replicate this model across other utility brands and across a wider geographic area.

Automotive and Business: You talk about a multibrand vision. What are Renault’s long-term goals? Do you intend to offer a wide range of future enhancements to professionals through your after-sales services? ?

Julie Vatier: This test aims to bring Renault to the heart of the matter. We need to get the answers we need to move forward. The next stage is about results. But the industrialization of retrofitting, which is one of the keys to the development of this market, involves the development of standardized offers. We know that to make it work tomorrow, solutions must go beyond brand and model boundaries. That is why it is the after-sales department that covers this topic in the Renault Group. Our services are now focused on all brands of cars.

Automotive and Business: So Tolv will not be a sub-brand of Renault…

Wadie Maaninou: The goal is to be able to target more and more broadly. We aim to address multi-brand LCVs in our “roadmap”. With Groupe Renault, we will achieve our ambitions faster and benefit from a wider overall strike force. If we manage to industrialize and standardize, we can easily apply to other brands and models. This is mainly in the interest of our common customers who have multi-brand fleets. Therefore, we should be able to provide them with comprehensive support.

Automotive and Business: How does it all come together in a very specific way? ?

Wadie Maaninou: We have started various projects. The joint development part now brings together about ten people from each institution, as well as different areas of expertise and professions. The industrialization and manufacturing segment is poised to grow in the coming months, as are the sales and marketing teams.

Julie Vatier: It is a very transversal project with the meeting of different professions and different experiences. It is also a collective success that enriches him and will come. We are exploring with flexibility and preparing to open a new market involving all Renault Group departments as well as a foreign partner. A more concrete implementation in Flins is planned for 2023. The opening of the assembly line with the production schedule should take place between September and December next year.

Automotive and Business: You can remind us of the various economic and environmental benefits of upgrading ?

Wadie Maaninou: Even today, one of the main obstacles to the mass deployment of electric vehicles is their entry price. With the upgrade we are able to offer a conversion that is two to three times cheaper than new electrical services from the factory. At the same time, the full-life conversion enables significant CO2 savings of up to 50% of the emissions generated during the life cycle of a new vehicle. Finally, another interest that we often forget is related to speed of execution and delivery, which are increasingly important to our customers who are facing supply challenges.

Julie Vatier: Indeed, the upgrade uses aftermarket codes, and as a result, it’s just a stock part! This will allow us to respond to requests without delay, and this will also be one of the keys to success. On the other hand, it is still difficult for us to define and quantify the “availability-price-performance” equation.

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