In 124 years of existence, this is the first time that the manufacturer has created a brand from scratch. Certainly Renault bought and relaunched the Romanian Dacia or the Dieppois Alpine, but it never had the idea of starting from scratch, defining a brand new name and logo and launching its own models. It is now done with Mobilize even if the term “White paper” is a tad exaggerated. Because this brand is going to draw (at least for the moment) from the existing group, or from established alliances. This is the case for this first model: the Limo.
Limo for limo? Let’s say rather large sedan. To within three millimeters, and a few stylistic details as well, it looks like a Tesla Model 3. But unlike the American, the first Mobilize is not for sale. Because the raison d’être of the group’s new brand is use, service, sharing, rental, car-sharing, new mobility, according to the desired jargon, but in no case the sale . And in the case of the Limo, those who will rent it and play with new mobility are the VTC drivers and the taxis.
Her twin sister is Chinese
It is therefore a car designed from the start for this use, not at the Guyancourt technocentre, where the other cars of the group are designed, but in Nanjang, China, at Jiangling Motors, a local manufacturer who has teamed up with Renault to design this Limo, which over there is called E-Zoom Yi. But what is a car intended to transport customers all day long can have that is specific? To understand this, the tester must double up, moving from the role of driver to that of customer installed in the back.
The driver, on the other hand, wants to have a simple, practical and reliable working tool. Since it is electric, the Limo should at least fulfill these conditions of reliability and simplicity. the handling of the automatic gearbox, whose lever is very inspired by that of the Espace 5, is perfectly suited to urban and suburban use of a taxi, even if it is embedded in a central console which is not the best bill.
In front of the driver, the two screens of 10.25 inches for the instrumentation and 12.3 inches for the infotainment are connected to form a long horizontal slab. But the particularity of the central screen, in addition to its slowness of use, is that it has no navigation system. Since the drivers are all equipped with smartphones with Waze or Google Maps to navigate, and generally with apps dedicated to their companies to manage their customers, Mobilize has zapped the good old integrated GPS by making do with a Carplay and Android connection.
Under his foot, the driver has a formula already appreciated under the bonnet of the Renault Megane E-tech EV60. The 60 kWh battery is here connected to a 150 hp motor, and not 220 hp like the Renault compact SUV. In addition, the Limo weighs only 1,600 kg, more or less the weight of the Mégane, and 200 kg less than the Tesla from which its lines are inspired. But the car is limited to 140 km / h, which is more than enough to drive in town, or even connect Orly to Paris. But why the hell this speed and power limitation? To increase autonomy, of course. Autonomy that he will find by connecting to all the AC and DC terminals and to a socket or a Wallbox at home. Thus, on a fast charging station, it will recover 250 km of freedom in 40 minutes.
A rather light car in the realm of electrics
Except that, curiously, the maximum autonomy is 450 km according to the WLTP standard. Exactly the same mileage as the more powerful Megane. There is no doubt that real life and real roads will be more to the advantage of the Limo than to that of the Megane. Roads on which the driver will not be out of place compared to other thermal generalist models, but not necessarily the most exemplary: the steering is not the most informative, but the suspensions nevertheless do their job in terms of comfort and heading hold. The balanced chassis is another accomplice of this good behavior, as is the light weight.
But all this data, the passenger customer does not care. Installed in the back he sees all this from quite a distance. Especially since the place he has to stretch his legs is gigantic. A magic trick made possible thanks to the wheelbase of 2.75 m. The seats, on the other hand, are quite firm. The fact that the bench has to accommodate dozens of customers every day without collapsing after a year is responsible for this discomfort.
These customers will nevertheless be able to console themselves with two USB sockets intended for them. Likewise, they have two buttons that allow it to increase or reduce the sound of the audio system. Unless the driver, who has this privilege, cuts off this possibility from the dashboard. The same passengers will also benefit from surprisingly large rear doors that will make it easier for them to get on board. On the other hand, access to the trunk is much less easy. The 500 l trunk is rather large, but the maneuvers to slip in the heavy and gigantic suitcases of tourists returning from Punta Cana will quickly annoy the fussy drivers.
They will also risk being fussy when examining the addition of their new work tool. Because the car, only available for rental, for a period that can vary between 3 months and 3 years, is billed at 1,499 euros per month. No need to scream under the pretext that a classic car costs in LOA between 300 and 800 euros per month. That of Mobilize includes services that are sometimes essential and often very useful. Thus, for this high price, the taxi or VTC driver will benefit from the complete maintenance of his car (tires included), from an identical replacement car in the event of a breakdown but also, and above all, from special insurance. “people transport” that all these pros have to subscribe to and which turns out to be rather expensive.
Mobilize management claims that the price displayed is lower than that of the competition, when the services offered are added together. Verification of these statements will be very simple. It will be enough to see if, at the start of the school year in September, the date of the launch of Mobilize in the capital, Limos abound in stations and airports. In any case, the Renault group is ambitious for its new brand, which begins this week to establish itself in Madrid with a fleet of 40 Limo. And it must gradually settle in all the major European cities open to VTCs, with a specific objective: to achieve 20% of global turnover by 2030, when the brand’s three other models ( small utilities and quadricycles in car sharing) will be available.
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