Plug-in hybrids, conventional hybrids and pure electric vehicles (EVs) are the hot topic as fuel prices rise with no end in sight. The future of transport appears to be almost certainly electricity-driven, and Renault, which just confirmed it was working on EVs in earnest last week, hopes to be one of the first volume producers of the new era.

Unlike most carmakers, Renault is counting on, even hoping for, a continued upsurge in petroleum prices. That, combined with tax incentives and subsidies is what will make its 100,000 EV per year goal a reality. In the past, the calculations never worked out in favor of EVs - they were just too expensive to compete on equal footing with petrol or diesel-powered cars. The equation is changing, however.

By 2011 the Renault-Nissan joint EV effort will be in full swing, with Renault's efforts including full EV conversions for its Clio hatch (pictured), Megane sedan and Kangoo van, for sale in Israel and Denmark. In 2012 both companies will launch a purpose-built EV, to be built on a shared platform and composed of a pressed and welded steel monocoque body.

By building the car with conventional technology in this respect, it can avoid high costs associated with very lightweight aluminum and composite construction, allowing the companies to save CO2 emissions at a cost of 200 per tonne for their EV, as opposed to a cost of 600 per tonne with a hybrid.