Easy electrification for dummies (automakers)

Volkswagen e-up and e-Golf

For a moment I’ll pretend I believe that traditional automakers want to sell electric cars, but they don’t know how to do it.

Here is my guide to remove the biggest obstacles.


Price and range

If an automaker is serious about EVs it needs to address these two problems. While solving both with only one model is difficult, but not impossible, it’s easier to make a car model for range and other for affordability.

Simplest solution is a larger car for range and a smaller car for affordability and city driving.





Range: e-Golf

Price: e-Up

Volkswagen already sells the two models. The e-Golf is heading the right direction with improved range later this year, now the e-Up should get a smaller range increase but a considerable price cut to make the formula work. The introduction of Skoda e-Citigo and Seat e-Mii will complete the job of selling affordable electric city cars.



Range: Leaf

Price: 404 error, car not found

The Nissan Leaf already got a range increase this year and next year the second generation will get even more.


Nissan IDS concept is the work in progress second generation Leaf


But an affordable electric city car is still missing. The Micra EV (based in Sway) would be great. Do I see a trend? IDS and Sway concepts are very similar and show where Nissan is heading…


The new Nissan Micra hatchback will be based on the Sway concept car



Range: Zoe

Price: 404 error, car not found

Zoe will double its range later this year/early next year. But an affordable option is still missing in Renault. Twingo ZE is perfect to complete the successful formula.


Renault Twingo ZE

Cool looking Twingo ZE. Put a 30 kWh battery and an internal 22 kW charger in it and I’m sold



Range: Chevrolet Bolt

Price: 404 error, car not found

Saying that the Chervoltet Bolt is an affordable long range electric car is only true if we compare it to a Tesla. In Europe the Opel Ampera-e should reach 40.000 € before incentives. For most families this is not affordable at all. For affordability GM should improve the Spark EV and sell it worldwide. A facelifted and cheaper Spark EV with 100 EPA miles range could do the job.


2015 Chevrolet Spark EV

2015 Chevrolet Spark EV


In the longer run, more car models will appear. Some will be able to truly be long range and affordable cars. Automakers just need to focus in improving efficiency so that electric cars can get higher range without the need of bigger batteries.


Charging infrastructure

Regarding charging stations I think that is a problem that will be solved by itself. I expect to pay only for DC fast charging, slower AC will likely be free in most commercial areas and in cities where the local administration support EVs and bans fossil fuel burning machines from entering. Public 22 kW EVSEs are cheap and will be available everywhere.


Simple and cheap 22 kW, 3 phase charging station


On the contrary, DC fast chargers are expensive to buy and maintain, so companies will only seriously invest in them when sufficient electric cars exist to justify the money spent with the infrastructure. The free AC charging justifies even more paying for a powerful internal charger. If you spend one hour in a shopping mall it’s obviously better to get 22 kWh of free charge into the battery with a Zoe than only 3,6 kWh with an e-Up or 3,3 kWh with the MiEV. Only in summer holidays I would gladly pay for a 50-100 kW DC 30 minute fast charge.


The electrification formula for dummies (automakers) is pretty simple. Sell at least two models. One larger that goes further other smaller that is cheaper. It’s not rocket science.

Pedro Lima

My interest in electric transportation is mostly political. I’m tired of coups and wars for oil. My expectation is that the adoption of electric transportation will be a factor for peace and democracy all over the world.

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
5 years ago

Before last paragraph: I think you meant to write kW, not kWh.

For a 60 kWh battery we’ll need at least 150 kW charging for a practical 30 min fast charge, ideally 300 kW for 15 min

5 years ago
Reply to  Pedro Lima

I fully agree on this. We have to think for 90% of our trips not for 10% of trips that compromise usability on a daily basis.

Ralf K
5 years ago

A low-cost EV by Renault may likely be a Kwid with BEV drivetrain in 2018 markets like India or China, once governments enforce even stronger rules on vehicle registration in mega-cities. As soon as a BEV is the only option to have your car registered in a timely manner, more and more first-time car customers are indirectly forced (well, let’s say “encouraged”) to turn to BEVs.

For Europe, simply consider the Zoe ZE the budget model by Renault-Nissan, and Leaf 60kWh the range model.

I do not expect, that Twingo ZE as a 4-seater would be much cheaper or attractive to customers than the Zoe ZE. I’m not even sure, whether there will be a Smart For_four_ electric drive or Twingo ZE in the near future.

The new Smart For_two_ electric drive to arrive in 2016 as a two-seater will at least be somewhat shorter and match city traffic requirements even better, despite its higher price.