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Electrification could mean an end for diesel Clio, says Renault

Renault is expecting to gradually phase out diesel engines from the new Clio, predicting demand for its new hybrid system could be as high as diesel was in some European markets.

All-New Clio is first Groupe Renault car to be built on new CMF-B platform

The new Clio will debut Renault’s E-Tech hybrid engine

The fifth-generation Clio launches later this year, a 100% new model replacing the segment’s best-selling fleet car across Europe. Vincent Dubroca, Renault’s deputy director of B-segment product, said this had traditionally been helped by the low running costs of its 1.5-litre dCi diesel engine.

However, he added, the market had changed dramatically since the outgoing Clio launched in 2013. Over half of early cars had been diesel-powered, but that has since dropped to a quarter caused by fiscal changes, rising emissions compliance costs and changing buyer behaviour resulting from “diesel bashing”.

Renault expects this to be an ongoing trend, but diesel will still be available in the new Clio. The launch range comprises four petrol engines with CO2 starting from 100g/km (NEDC Correlated), and there will be two 1.5-litre diesels with 85hp or 115hp, both featuring AdBlue injection to curb NOx emissions.

However, neither of the diesel engines are compliant with the full Euro 6d emissions standard, so they will attract the four percentage-point company car tax band penalty in the UK.

From 2020, the Clio will debut a new hybrid system, developed in-house. This pairs a 1.6-litre naturally-aspirated petrol engine with two electric motors and a 1.2kWh lithium-ion battery, though it can be scaled to offer more or less performance, or with a larger 9.8kWh battery to become a plug-in hybrid.

So, by the end of next year, Renault will have an electric Zoe, hybrid Clio and plug-in hybrid Captur within one segment, offering specific drivetrains for different customers. Dubroca said the Clio hybrid’s relatively high performance, at 130hp, might limit fleet appeal in the UK at first, but the carmaker is optimistic about its potential.

“Toyota is doing a very high share of hybrid – 60% to 80% [of sales] depending on the country. So the potential market share is huge, because [it is] currently the only one providing this powertrain in the market. We can’t be exactly sure what [hybrid] share of the mix can happen, but it could go as high as diesel in some countries.

“When we look at the outlook of regulation and we see that’s becoming more and more severe, and the cost of diesel engines will keep increasing. We see that diesel for small cars is going out of the market, and hybrid is here to convert customers to these new technologies. We’ll see how the market behaves, in order to have choice in our portfolio,” he added.

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Alex Grant

Trained on Cardiff University’s renowned Postgraduate Diploma in Motor Magazine Journalism, Alex is an award-winning motoring journalist with ten years’ experience across B2B and consumer titles. A life-long car enthusiast with a fascination for new technology and future drivetrains, he joined Fleet World in April 2011, contributing across the magazine and website portfolio and editing the EV Fleet World Website.