The prospect of an affordable electric car is approaching

Nicolas Monnot, director of pricing and performance at Citroën, during the press launch of the new ë-C3 in Meudon (Hauts-de-Seine), near Paris, on October 17, 2023.

By cutting the prices of the ë-C3, a fully electric version of its city car expected in spring 2024, Citroën is finally supporting its position, so far poorly assumed, as a popular manufacturer with a small model that starts at 23,300 euros. bonus before deduction of 5,000 euros. The announcement comes at a time when many mainstream electric vehicles are looming, a sign that the European car industry is beginning to realize that it is no longer possible to continue selling only expensive electric cars.

Read our “The Long March of the Electric Car” series: Article reserved for our subscribers How the beautiful mechanics of the electric car got stuck in Europe

While Tesla’s Model Y (€45,000) tops sales in Europe and around the world, more affordable models – without being cheap – will proliferate in the coming months. The Renault 5 is expected in the second half of 2024, but its autonomy and equipment level suggest a price closer to €30,000 than €25,000… which may need to be adjusted downwards given the competition from Stellantis (which Citroën belongs to).

In addition to the ë-C3, which will be produced in Trnava, Slovakia, the Stellantis group will offer an affordable model from Opel and from Fiat, which is preparing an electric Panda. In a little over a year, Citroën even plans to drive home a version of the ë-C3 for 19,900 euros. On the Korean side, Hyundai will launch a Casper-derived small vehicle and Kia is considering an EV2, while Volkswagen will launch its ID.2 in 2025, also announced at €25,000. At the same time, Tesla will offer the Model 2 for 25,000 dollars (around 23,600 euros).

A slowdown in household demand, hampered by changes in purchasing power, as well as an uncertain outlook for the overall automotive market, pose threats to EV sales. These would find a welcome engine of growth with the deployment of less elitist ranks, the spread of which could be stimulated through future “social leasing”, a long-term rental formula from 100 euros per month under the conditions of resources envisaged by the government from the beginning of 2024. A downward expansion of the catalog would be likely, not only to facilitate the democratization of the sale of electric vehicles, but also to avoid the risk of suffocation.

Get ahead of Chinese competition

Currently, sales are dynamic, reaching 15% of registrations (20% for individuals), but dominated by models above 35,000 euros (Peugeot e-208 price, long at the top of sales) competing for a segment that the price war launched by Tesla unstable. The cheapest offer on the market today, the Dacia Spring (20,800 euros) presents itself as a predominantly urban model, while the ë-C3 or R5 are more versatile. And its origin (made in China) will soon deprive it of an environmental bonus that greatly contributes to its competitiveness.

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