New to the editorial team, Eric Dupin shares his thoughts on a current topic or the latest trends in the automotive world every Tuesday in his “Green Zone” section.
In this emerging era of the electric car, where a “banal” 50,000 euro sedan like the Tesla Model 3 displays the performance of a latest generation Porsche 911, and where a Taycan smokes in the greatest calm a screaming McLaren at the 400 meters standing start, the sports car enthusiast is in the midst of existential doubt.
We are talking here about the real “sports car”, this exclusive concept, as a symbol of an art of living, of the pleasure of driving and traveling, as a machine to provide sensations, for outings on weekends. or long journeys.
Tesla has amply demonstrated that an electric car can be aesthetically successful and extremely fast. The Californian firm set the bar very high from the launch of the Model S, then the Model 3. And the promise of the Roadster 2, which promises to be the most efficient production car of all time, will give a little the church in the middle of the village in terms of hierarchy.
Honor is safe, at least in the very closed circle of Supercars. But at what cost ? Certainly not the one that fits the budget of a simple performance enthusiast who has saved up some savings, and who dreams of electromobility and thrilling road trips at the same time. In short, who dreams of an electric AND affordable sports car. Because yes, love of beautiful mechanics, performance and zero emissions are not mutually exclusive, and not all Sunday pilots are petrolheads without ecofriendly conscience. And in the future there will probably be more and more potential converters to electrics who will not be satisfied with the current offer, and for whom pleasure will always be an important part of the car equation.
Electricity, the kingdom of the SUV and the small city car …
For them, in the electrical market, what is left? Not much. Because the offer in this sector quickly focused on two main areas: on the one hand, SUVs (Audi e-tron, Mercedes EQC, Hyundai Kona, Tesla Model Y, Ford Mustang Mach-E, Opel Mokka-E … ), on the other hand, the small city cars (Renault Zoe, Mini, Fiat 500, 2008…), the Model S, Model 3 and Taycan ranges standing out somewhat because of their segment and their price.
But where are the electric equivalents of these legendary models that have elevated the pleasure of driving and driving to the rank of a true art of living, such as the Porsche 911, Cayman or Boxster, the BMW Z4 or M3, the Mazda Miata, the Alpine or others? Audi TT? The question is quickly answered: for the moment they do not exist. Because no manufacturer has really looked into the issue. So of course the latter represent marginal market shares, and the success of electricity will first have to go through mass adoption by the general public. And we are only in the early days.
But let’s not forget that these models are often extremely profitable due to their generally higher selling price. Above all, they are vectors of image … and dreams. Which has a ripple effect on the rest of the lineup.
However, it will surely not have escaped your notice that manufacturers today are focusing their efforts and their communication in electromobility essentially on two things: technology and autonomy. Never on the image or on the pleasure of driving. Okay, all in good time, but it may be a mistake to consider the mainstream electric car from the unique angle of utilitarian use and exclusively urban or peri-urban, to get to work Where to shop. History shows that the car, a fabulous symbol of individual freedom, is not just that. Why would that change with electricity?
So, which generalist manufacturer will soon take the bet of launching a sporty and exclusive electric model, a small pleasure machine, simple, elegant, efficient and accessible?
We can ask the question in a different way, and in a little less funny way: did the advent of the electric sign the end of the sports car, or at least of its affordable version?