French car manufacturer Renault has a long and rich history. And for decades it was the same as always. People praised the new models and remembered the old ones. The code is L’Atelier Renault. Both exhibition and museum space. Paris, the Champs Elysees. Barely Nobel. The whole side of mobility.
Meanwhile, about an hour’s drive northwest in Flins, Reno is busy with the future. Your own, of course, but also our planet. Realization: something has to change radically. Just as something had to change for the huge old factory out there, the Dauphine, R4 and R5 rolled off the assembly line at once. Currently, about 350 Renault Zoe and Nissan Micra cars per day are not small, but not enough for proper use.
“Refactory” has been growing there for about a year – the first European center of the circular economy in the automotive industry. On more than 230 hectares of 65 buildings, it is all about renewable energies, reprocessing, recycling and the careful use of resources. The only side that’s less glamorous to navigate at first glance. Significantly more important to humanity.
The largest area is Factory VO. With an area of 11,000 square meters, it is the largest factory in Europe for processing used cars on an industrial scale. Currently, 180 returnees per day are subject to technical inspection and visual touch. Classic combustion engines as well as modern electric cars. About 45,000 vehicles a year. The number is expected to double from 2023.
Most are still cosmetic repairs. There are four different levels that the trader can pre-select. It costs on average from 600 to 900 euros, but sometimes it is much more in individual cases. The whole thing no longer takes 21 days as the national average, but only six. From vehicle registration to final inspection, including fully automatic 360-degree photo capture with 196 images, battery check and tire tread depth scanning. One advantage: With a large-scale “smart repair” alone, about 12,000 liters of paint can be saved annually.
In the medium term, the offer should also include larger body repairs. For low cost fleet vehicles, we can even provide used spare parts if needed. Enormous raw material supply potential A conversion project from piston to winding engines has also been planned. Mainly for smaller commercial vehicles. It creates jobs and benefits the climate at the same time. Above all, however, the idea of central processing should spread. So far, only dealer cars from Paris with a maximum length of 200 kilometers have been considered. The logistics will be very expensive away.
In a few halls, “Mobilize” deals with old batteries from Zoe, Kangoo and Co. Those that no longer have 50 kWh as the original, but only 30 or 35. They are recycled immediately after use in the electric car will still be so early, experts say – and so the Renault branch with the “best” start-ups in Berlin It gives them a second life.
For this purpose, the used cells end up in a remanufacturing plant – and left in stackable battery packs that are mounted on some sort of hand truck that have the inverter and charger. Depending on the number (maximum four) of these “best beams”, the system delivers an output of 2 to 5 kW at 230 V and a capacity of 2.3 to 9.2 kWh. Thus, a circulating power bank replaces conventional generators – but it has the decisive advantage that it does not emit any exhaust gases, and therefore can also be used in closed rooms.
Applications range from use on construction sites and during filming to mobile kitchens and electric boats. And since the “best package” weighs only 30 kilograms, it can be easily replaced, at least with a strong hand. The models have been officially certified since mid-May. Price rumor: around 1,000 euros for the charger and 800 for each battery. At current estimates, used batteries can remain in service for about ten years, reducing carbon dioxide emissions by up to 20 percent — and making the world a little better at the same time.
Not far away, Hyvia is working towards a target of capturing 30 percent of the hydrogen light commercial vehicle market in Europe by 2030. The flagship model is the Renault Master Van with 12 cubic meters of storage space and a range of 500 kilometres. In addition to the 33 kWh battery, the truck has a 30 kWh fuel cell. The four tanks – installed on the roof above the driver’s cab – contain 1.5 kilograms of hydrogen.
Also shown: A 20 cubic meter box truck with a radius of 250 km as well as a 15-seat city bus that can cover a distance of 300 km. The vehicles will first be converted at Renault’s site in Battelle, and the fuel cells will then be assembled at the remanufacturing plant. Hyvia can also provide hydrogen filling station and electrolyzer upon request. To buy, rent or lease.
Important: Not only are areas in Flins far-reaching. Also plans. Newly refurbished transmissions and turbochargers should lead to a second and possibly even a third life, and depleted batteries and diseased catalytic converters should donate their valuable minerals. This should be just the beginning. For the benefit of the environment, your financial balance in the face of skyrocketing prices for raw materials – and the people around the factory. Currently there are about 700 people working in the remanufacturing plant – soon there will be 3,000.