Between the announcements and the reality on the ground, there is sometimes a big gap when it comes to manufacturers’ commitment to developing electric passenger cars. Readers regularly ask us about the subject, before signing up for a model.
Sincerely committed to an environmental approach or driven by increasingly strong European constraints, car manufacturers have little choice but to include electric, traction battery or hydrogen fuel cell models.
Otherwise, they incur penalties amounting to several hundred million euros if they do not meet a carbon emissions cap.
Since the start of 2020, for each of them, the average CO2 emissions on all cars sold must not exceed 95 grams per kilometer. Even the 2020 Renault Twingo is on top! In 2025, the threshold will be further lowered to 81 g / km.
By fair means or foul ?
Several manufacturers did not wait to have the gun on their heads to develop a real story with electric mobility. We of course put aside Tesla, whose interest in promoting its trendy range is obvious: it is its core business.
How do you recognize those who really play the VE game?
A brand that is fully committed to the development of electric cars will multiply concrete actions in the field: creation of user clubs, membership of an association of professionals involved in electric mobility, listening to electromobilians, development of charging networks, reception in dealerships, establishments or contacts reserved for EVs, attractive commercial offers, vehicle loans over a sufficient period, prospecting, particularly among entrepreneurs and communities, specific training of advisers, evolution of the range and of successful models and much more targeted, salivating limited series, proximity to the media dedicated to sustainable mobility, catalog of derivative products, videos and other advertising and communication media, various partnerships, reorientation of factories, inclusion of renewable energies in industrial processes, requirements on the ‘origin of raw materials in particular related to batteries, recycling of the latter with a second life in fast chargers, competition with electric car to be won, V2G architecture, R&D, etc. The list is long and far from exhaustive.
Renault number 1 in France
If there is one manufacturer in the French EV market that cannot be blamed for a lack of interest in electric cars, it is Renault. As soon as the ZOE came out, the Losange’s sales advisers wet their shirts in the field to place it with as many communities and companies as possible, even when it was not the best model for the multiple roles that we were going to ask him to play.
Almost 10 years later, the advance taken and the evolution of hospitality in dealerships are truly impressive. And the strategy is far from weakening, quite the contrary. In addition to the great “New ZOE Game” running until the end of the year, the Losange has just launched its electric Twingo, starting with a very attractive limited edition Vibes.
It would take more than one article to align all the concrete actions taken by Renault since the launch of the ZOE. We will of course forget the slowness in finally providing the famous grandmother’s cable or CRO (occasional charging cable), which is essential for many, and in offering the Zoe for purchase, including the battery.
Kia and Hyundai
In recent years, Kia and Hyundai (same automotive group) have been working hard to impose their electric e-Soul (previously Soul EV), e-Niro and Kona on French roads.
The former has a small head start and is currently offering its Go Electric Tour to discover its electric and plug-in hybrid models. Its general site has a collection of articles written by various journalists highlighting its trendy range. At the end of 2018, a specific concession was inaugurated on avenue de la Grande Armée in Paris.
The 2 brands have recently made a series of shattering offers, including the much discussed LLD at 47 euros per month very difficult to obtain. The efficiency, quality and high level of equipment of the Kona Electric and e-Niro are well established.
However, Kia and Hyundai can be suspected of having deliberately postponed deliveries of these models to the end of 2019 in order to meet new European emissions requirements for 2020, to the chagrin of customers. In October 2019, 253 Kia e-Niro, 79 e-Soul and 122 Hyundai Kona electrics were registered in France, against 19 + 1 + 77 in November, 7 + 1 + 14 in December, but 429 + 99 + 248 in January 2020, and 278 + 79 + 414 the following month.
Along with other partners, Volkswagen, Audi and Porsche are behind the Ionity charging network which has grown well in just a few years. The group has adopted coherent resources to successfully switch to electric power, and is turning the page on a low-salivating offer with its e-Golf and the first generation of e-Up !.
The latter now has an improved WLTP range of 260 km in the combined cycle which makes it convincing. The city car is also preparing to invest the French roads under the Skoda and Seat brands which depend on the group.
The ID program signals a more credible momentum towards electromobility. For him, the manufacturer has completely converted its Zwickau plant. Certainly, ID.3 comes to the market with some issues that are not completely resolved. But it should experience worldwide success that will place Volkswagen as the most committed German brand in terms of electric cars. Especially if she knows how to come up with interesting offers and the dealerships learn to care for interested customers.
A new breath to be found
Two manufacturers, who invested heavily in the early 2010s to promote electric mobility, must find a new lease of life: Nissan and BMW.
Regarding the first, the first generation Leaf was very unfairly shunned in France. The Japanese brand has nevertheless strived to multiply the actions: establishment of terminals with various partnerships in particular with Auchan and Ikea, salivating commercial offers, welcoming and well-trained network, very good vehicle equipment, multiplication of seduction operations with the press, participation in almost all events related to electric mobility, development of V2G architectures, etc. Nissan really deserved to be more successful in France!
Today, the brand is apparently much less involved in France on the subject. The 2nd generation of Leaf, which could be improved, now appears to be a transitional model before something better.
The manufacturer is criticized for keeping the CHAdeMO standard for rapid charging. But this is a key part of its smart grid projects that require two-way charging. Note that this feature is coming soon with Combo CCS.
On the other hand, the e-Power technology that the manufacturer intends to make us swallow soon looks like a step backwards.
BMW also put the package by launching its i3 in 2013. Very off the beaten track usually by the mark, this electric car was the opportunity to reinvent more virtuous means of production including renewable energies, a large volume of materials. recycled, much less volumes of water used, etc.
The propeller manufacturer has tried to promote its i3 through a few very diverse partnerships. So with Norauto, which still offers it today for rent at very low prices to its customers while waiting for a repair or maintenance operation. True to its premium brand image, BMW has also partnered with Relais & Châteaux with a charging station installation program.
The i3 has not really been a success in France. Even the exceptional business transactions in which it was offered at cut prices did not stir up passions.
As a result, BMW and its subsidiary Mini have made a shift towards more select models which does not help to classify them today among the players most committed to the promotion of electric mobility. The directions taken appear more blurred for this group, also at the origin of the Ionity network.
Mercedes is much more active in electric heavy goods vehicles (trucks and buses) than in passenger cars.
Of course, there is the EQS concept, the work on solid electrolyte batteries, etc. Of course, there are already star-badged electric cars on the market. Of course, last year there was the EQC promotional tour in France with the EQ Electric Tour. Of course there are these mailings sent by post to customers and prospects.
But we feel that something is missing to make the approach credible in the short term and to want to join it. Daimler’s fate for Smart doesn’t help. The brand will migrate to China with a completely different offer and the Lorraine plant should soon be liquidated.
At PSA (Peugeot, Citroën, DS, Opel), it is very vague. An action suggests that it is, the group has taken the turn of electric mobility, and takes a step forward … and paf, a step back follows quickly behind!
The Peugeot e-208 and Opel Corsa-e, for example, are very good electric cars, but we feel a lack of involvement at the top of the group, of the desire to succeed in the electromobile mutation … which does not really make you want to push the door of the dealers of these brands. As if PSA weren’t really concerned and / or proud of these machines. Hide those electrics we couldn’t see!
By reducing EVs to simple engines on thermal models, the group seems to want to be discreet, too discreet, on connected mobility. Which is evident in a number of dealerships that really don’t make the effort to place a battery-powered version.
As with Mercedes, PSA is active in launching electric utility vehicles with variations in more or less luxurious shuttles or minivans. It’s beautiful, it’s comfortable, but above all it’s expensive and how many motorists are affected by these models?