Are electric cars reserved for the richest?

It’s on its way, but it’s slowly emerging. The electric car for 100 euros, Emmanuel Macron’s campaign promise, should become a reality in 2024. The opening of orders was announced for November and was postponed for several weeks, “time for final arbitrations at Matignon”, according to a government source.

At the end of October, the Minister of Economy Bruno Le Maireclarified the broad outlines of the system, intended for “Lowest 50% of households”. The monthly rent of €100 does not include insurance – this depends on the driver’s profile and annual mileage. And “leasing” may or may not include an offer to buy.

So targeting certain socio-professional categories, such as nurses, is out of the question, as is reserving the system for a population that is unlikely to have access to the low-emission zones that are deployed in metropolises with their current vehicle, i.e. too polluting.

“Several tens of thousands of vehicles”

“A simple system will evolve by example when people see neighbors or cousins ​​using it, approves Thierry Pech, CEO of Terra Nova Ideas Lab. Once launched, the eligibility criteria could be tightened – as with renovation support – so that only the most popular categories benefit. suggests this intellectual, who in 2022, along with others, convinced presidential candidate Macron to include such a program in his program “social leasing”.

In any case, we must expect a humble beginning, inclusive “a few tens of thousands” vehicles, as the head of state stated in September.

Stellantis and Renault promise models for less than 20,000 euros

Among the models offered, we will probably find the e-C3 introduced in October by Citroën, with a list price of 23,300 euros, and from 2025, a version with reduced autonomy for 19,990 euros. Stellantis, the group to which the Chevron brand belongs, should also join the system with its electric Fiat 500.

Renaultfor its part, has cleaned up the small electric vehicle market his Zoe and especially the Dacia Spring, manufactured in China and sold below the psychological threshold of 20,000 EUR. Its success cannot be denied, with more than 24,000 units sold between January and October, compared to 18,000 for the whole of 2022.

You are not sure that Renault 5, expected for 2024, leads to rent for 100 euros per month. However, the diamond maker also intends to step up its efforts in entry-level electric vehicles. To everyone’s surprise, it just revealed the Legend concept car, foreshadowing a small city car that should arrive in 2025 for less than €20,000.

Chinese competitors in reserve

After largely focusing on mid-range and high-end models that offer comfortable margins but are heavier and therefore less environmentally friendly, the French car giants are starting to rebalance. A must if they want to avoid being overtaken by Chinese competitors who are able to offer €10,000 cars at home and who sooner or later will open factories in Europe to flood the continent.

This shift should increase access to new electric cars, “whose average price today is €13,500 more than the thermal equivalent”notes Marc Mortureux, general delegate of the Automotive Platform, the voice of the sector.

A price that should remain problematic nonetheless. “The snake is biting its tail: you need volume to lower prices. If you want to sell more, you have to lower prices,” notes.

Discounted vehicles?

“If they want to manufacture in France or Europe, manufacturers can hardly play on labor costs or drastically reduce the cost of a battery – around 40% of the value of the car – that they do not manufacture themselves. As a result, they are forced to act on vehicle content themselves, for example by offering fewer options. continues Marc Mortureux.

Some see it as a step toward greater sobriety. Others are more serious, like Flavien Neuvy, director of the automotive observatory Cetelem: “The electric car is more expensive, more complicated to charge, has less autonomy, less effective. »

Potentially good price per use

In any case, assessing the true cost of an electric vehicle requires taking into account its use. “An electric car can quickly become profitable for someone who drives 80 kilometers a day and charges their vehicle at home during off-peak hours. Two to three euros is then enough to drive 100 kilometers,” points out Marc Mortureux.

However, maintenance can be less expensive, due to the greater simplicity of the engine and the lower presence of fluids (for example, no oil change is necessary), the return on investment is less obvious for a small driver or for a driver who has to regularly recharge his car on the highway, at fast terminals whose prices per kilometer is close to fuel prices. In this case, the various supports (environmental bonus, conversion bonus, regional support, etc.), provided with or without resource conditions, are not sufficient to close the thermal energy gap.

Rent an electric car rather than buy one

In many cases, switching to electricity requires a dose of voluntariness dictated by the climate emergency. Those who go big are turning to leasing, a practice that today affects more than one in two all-engine cars combined and has shifted the focus from ownership to use of the vehicle.

“Long-term rental allows you to cover your monthly expenses up to several hundred euros, explains Marie Laloy, Director of Marketing and Services at Aramis, the leader in online car sales. It also makes it easier to change models after two or three years. An advantage, while the transition to electric presents many unknowns, including rapid advances in battery autonomy. »

While waiting for an electrical breakthrough in the used market

The democratization of electric cars will also and above all depend on the growth of the used market, which today represents four fifths of sales. A market directly dependent on the new market.

Sure enough, electric (excluding hybrids) share of new registrations has increased by 10% in a year and now accounts for 15% of new car sales, barely less than diesel. But, notes Marie Laloy, “With 26,000 transactions in the first ten months of the year, electricity accounts for barely more than 1% of second-hand sales”.

The development of used electric cars also depends on the behavior of public authorities, businesses and rental companies, whose new vehicles end up in the hands of individuals after a few years. However, according to a study published in March by the non-governmental organization Transport and Environment, companies and administrations stand behind the greening targets set by law for their vehicle fleets.

Europeans and electric cars

Just over a quarter of Europeans (27%) are ready to change engines in order to access the low emission zones established in some major cities.

Only one of two people knows about European regulations banning the sale of new railcars from 2035. Seven out of ten respondents believe that this timetable is too short.

A large block of European countries – apart from Spain, Portugal and Italy – do not agree with this calendar, France in the lead. The regulations are considered unfair. This injustice is most strongly felt in France and Belgium.

The main obstacle to buying an electric car is its price: This argument is given by 51% of respondents in Europe. The other main reasons are fear of charging problems (35%) and lack of autonomy (33%).

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