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Big Dreams for Renault’s Mini Car

‘Mobilize’ is a new take on mobility that Renault hopes to translate into a serious revenue earner.

The Mobilize EZ-1 is the first vehicle under this brand, a kind of evolution of the Renault Twizy, but with some interesting differences. The EZ-1 is clearly a response to the Citroën’s recently launched €6000 mini car (technically a quadricycle) called the Ami. However, unlike the Ami, which is more traditional in that it is a product sold to customers, the EZ-1 has been designed with only shared mobility in mind. This new business model is baked into its DNA in the most important part of an EV, its battery. The small two-seater has swappable batteries instead of fast charging. This makes sense for the sharing/renting model that the new brand is looking to develop. A vehicle that can be picked up at any moment with a new battery swapped in is one less hassle for busy urban people who may want the convenience of a car at times but not the drawbacks of ownership and storage.  

The EZ-1 represents but just the first step for Mobilize, with other purpose-built vehicles in the pipeline to flesh out the new mobility vision that Renault has in mind. This vision includes a ride-hailing service and a last-mile delivery vehicle based on the EZ-1 as well. Renault sees a significant percentage of its revenue in 2030 coming from this new mobility model captured in Mobilize.  

Personal comment 

Mobilize is a novel and positive move for Renault. They have had some success with the Renault Zoe and have clearly been trying to find a way to navigate the transition to EVs happening in the automotive space through their partnership with Nissan. Mobilize is a bold take on how Renault sees the future of mobility, and how they can stay relevant in that future market.  

Dense urban cities have had some unique challenges for the adoption of personal electric vehicles that this new approach might address. Specifically, charging EVs for people living in apartments or housing without individual parking spaces has been complicated. Small-car sharing options with swappable batteries, like the EZ-1, may well address this problem alongside all the other hassles related to car-ownership at the same time.  

There are still some significant details missing for Mobilize. For example, it is unclear how the battery swapping will happen. Will it be by hand or by robot? Will there be a subscription fee, or only a fee per kilometer or hour? Will it be free-floating like BMW’s (defunct) DriveNow scheme or back-to-base like most current car sharing services? Regardless, it will be interesting to see how Mobilize unfolds. 

Written by Joshua Bronson,
RISE Mobility & Systems 

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