Ceach its standing. While many German manufacturers limit the speed of some of their models (but not all) to 250 km / h, Renault announced, through the mouth of its general manager Luca de Meo, that the speed would be “capped according to the vehicles and will not exceed 180 km / h ”at Renault and… Dacia. Objective stated: “to act” on speed, which “represents more than a third of the causes of fatal accidents”. “As if,” says a good automobile observer, “it changes something in behavior. The vast majority of users have long since stopped practicing these speeds and, if it is indeed a road safety objective that we intend to achieve, it is 100, even 80, 60 or 40 km. / h that should be remembered, because we also kill ourselves at these speeds. “
“Have you ever seen a Clio go 180 km / h, have you?” »Adds Pierre Chasseray, general delegate of the 40 Million motorists association. He castigates the “uselessness” of such a measure, especially as speed enthusiasts generally do not “drive Renault”.
“We are talking about a generalist mid-range manufacturer,” abounds another automotive specialist, who does not wish to be cited. The scope of the announcement would have been different if it had been made by Porsche, for example.
We can therefore deduce, adds our anonymous witness, that it is a marketing coup orchestrated by a man that we did not know in that light, rather focused on the sportiness of the Seat models, a brand he previously managed, and instigator of its high performance Cupra branch. Has the Renault style rubbed off on the character, who is also recognized as an excellent connoisseur of the automotive world? It would be a deep disappointment. The most important fundamentally is not there, but perhaps in the implicit admission that it is necessary to hinder the progress of high-performance brands, German in general, capable of a level of performance that Renault cannot achieve.
Smart or silly clamping?
The French manufacturer can therefore change its strategy and side with the forerunner, the Swedish Volvo, who made the same decision in 2020, with 180 km / h as a limit as well. It “is not a panacea, but it is worth doing if it saves even a life,” argued Håkan Samuelsson, its chairman, in March 2019. Word for word the argument muffled for years by road safety in France and relayed by Chantal Perrichon, president of the League against road violence. “The policy of at the same time does not work in road safety, ”she said.
“We cannot at the same time continue to sell vehicles that go beyond speed limits and claim that we are taking action on this subject. “She recalls that” speed remains the first factor of death on the road, before alcohol, the telephone or not wearing a seat belt “, and sees nothing more than an” announcement effect From Renault. It pleads in particular for the installation of an automatic limiter adapting to the authorized speed.
This is precisely what will set up, with a little delay on its rivals, Renault with a device making it possible to read the road signs and to force the vehicles to respect the instructions which are given there, the speed in particular, but also a stop at the stop sign or give way. Among the popular manufacturers, Ford has already implemented an automatic speed limiter on some models, according to these signage. Renault would only comply with it with fairly sophisticated camera playback devices that a Dacia cannot support without seeing its selling price jump. Those would only have a limiter, assuming they manage to go 180 km / h.
What are Renault’s real intentions in announcing such an evolution of its vehicles? He risks seeing some of the customers turn away from his products, because standing is not that a car is fast, it is simply knowing that it can do it. As in the watchmaking world, many French people appreciate very expensive mechanical watches that do nothing more than tell them the time, which a vulgar quartz at 10 euros will do just as well.
The impoverishment of Renault’s image could be a boomerang effect of this announcement, which only treads the beds of an extra in the automotive world, Volvo, known for its noble fights for road safety, and whose sales did not jump, however. Like many, it counts on the introduction of technologies modifying the behavior of the drivers to tackle the subjects like the speed, the drunkenness or the inattention which will succeed in the control of the vehicle with the traction control, the anti-lock brakes. and dynamic trajectory control.
Price, reliability, design
These three have done more, with the passive devices (airbags, seat belts, crumple zones, etc.), for road safety than all the rest of the binding measures put together. This would be proof that some people think it is necessary to deal with the reality of motoring today. In France, where the straitjacket of limitations has been in place since 1973, speed is no longer, as in Europe, a concern.
Each year, the Cetelem consumer observatory surveys the opinions of motorists in more than ten countries. It emerges that “the power of an engine, its top speed, is not a criterion for the overwhelming majority of them”, explains its director Flavien Neuvy. The No. 1 purchase criterion is price, the second is reliability, and the third is design. “Environmental performance criteria, such as speed, come very far behind,” he adds. However, “a manufacturer showing its desire to go in the direction of more sobriety, this can not be negative for its image”, further believes the specialist.
In this context, Renault’s announcement on future vehicles with automatic speed limits according to a certain number of GPS criteria appears above all opportunistic for motorist associations.
“They are starting to make this kind of announcements because electric vehicles cannot drive more than 100 km / h without swallowing up the entire battery,” said Pierre Chasseray. And Flavien Neuvy adds that “the forced transition to electric” favors “another relationship to the automobile, with vehicles in which it will not be possible to drive at such speeds for hours”. But it will be recalled that electricity is by no means an obligatory solution and that thermal energy, whatever some may say, still has a long life ahead of it.