The best electric car for Europe

car2go Carsharing in Berlin

If we really want to reduce personal transportation pollution, we have to go for the “heart of the market” as Carlos Ghosn, CEO of Renault-Nissan often says. We have to substitute as many ICE (Internal Combustion Engine) cars with electric cars to make an impact in pollution reduction.

It’s essential to know which gas car models are selling the most to successfully replace them with similar electric cars.

We need to answer one simple question. How does the most sold cars in Europe compare to the small electric car offer we currently have? Let’s see which cars belong to the top 10.


Top 10 cars sold in Europe (first half of 2016):


  1. Volkswagen Golf: 321.772 (units sold)
  2. Renault Clio: 211.139 (units sold)
  3. Volkswagen Polo: 204.227 (units sold)
  4. Ford Fiesta: 165.347 (units sold)
  5. Opel Corsa: 153.001 (units sold)
  6. Nissan QASHQAI: 143.266 (units sold)
  7. Peugeot 208: 141.115 (units sold)
  8. Skoda Octavia: 139.213 (units sold)
  9. Volkswagen Passat: 128.877 (units sold)
  10. Ford Focus: 128.857 (units sold)


This is what people in Europe are buying when they have a big offer of gas cars to choose from. It’s clear that the B-segment small cars or as NCAP calls them, superminis, are by far the most popular. This is understandable, since superminis are small from the outside, but big enough in the inside. They are perfect for overcrowded European cities where finding a parking space isn’t easy.


Now let’s go to plug-ins.


Top 10 plug-in cars sold in Europe (first half of 2016):


  1. Renault Zoe: 11.872
  2. Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV: 11.176
  3. Nissan Leaf: 10.927
  4. Tesla Model S: 6.834
  5. Volkswagen Golf GTE: 5.694
  6. Volvo XC90 T8: 4.995
  7. BMW i3: 4.886
  8. Volkswagen Passat GTE: 4.635
  9. Mercedes C350e: 4.305
  10. Volkswagen e-Golf: 3.904


If we look to plug-in cars it’s very clear that there isn’t a good enough offer of superminis. We need a Ford Fiesta EV, Peugeot 208 EV, Volkswagen e-Polo and an Opel Corsa EV. The Ford Focus Electric could also be a good alternative, if only Ford didn’t make a lazy conversion by putting the battery in the trunk.


The fact that in the first half of 2016, the Renault Zoe was the most sold EV in Europe isn’t a surprise. This electric supermini has a great design and the useful 22 kW internal charger helps to compensate the limited range, especially in some European cities that have plenty of public 22 kW chargers in parking lots, some are even free to use.

It’s curious that the Volkswagen Golf is the most sold car, while its electric version, the e-Golf is in tenth place of the most sold plug-in cars. This shows us how little effort Volkswagen puts in electric cars, since they already have a very successful platform, making an appealing electric car is very easy.


Europe needs more electric cars in supermini bodies, since this is the kind of car Europeans buy the most when they aren’t limited by the offer.

Now that the car’s body is decided what’s also important?


  • Battery: 40 kWh usable and 250 km real world range is enough for most cases.
  • Electric motor: at least 100 kW, a 3 digits figure is always nice…
  • Charging: a 7,2 kW internal charger is the minimum, 22 kW three phase charger should be optional.
  • Fast charging: anything between 100 kW and 150 kW at CCS DC chargers is required for long distance travel.
  • Cargo space: seats should always fold flat in a 60/40 split to allow more cargo space when needed.
  • Price: between 20.000 € and 25.000 € before any government incentives.


In my opinion Renault and Volkswagen are the automakers better prepared to sell electric cars in great volume in Europe, they just need to want it.


Renault can easily gain the top positions with the Zoe R400 and the upcoming Twingo ZE.


Renault Zoe charging

Renault Zoe charging


Renault Zoe R400 can easily be the most sold EV and push the brand away from the low quality perception to a high-tech carmaker. The Renault Zoe R400 just needs to keep the 22 kW internal charger, add the ability to charge up to 100 kW at CCS DC fast chargers, the back seats need to fold flat and finally the battery leasing should be optional not mandatory in every European country. The price should be between 20.000 € and 25.000 € with battery included before any government incentives.


Renault Twingo ZE

Renault Twingo ZE


The Renault Twingo ZE should be the low cost electric car targeted for younger buyers or as an efficient commuter car. With half the battery capacity of the Zoe R400, a 20 kWh usable battery capacity should be enough for city driving. The 22 kW internal charger and 50 kW fast charging at CCS DC chargers would be expected as standard. The price shouldn’t be more than 15.000 € before any government incentives.


Renault Twingo with folded seats

Renault Twingo with folded seats


You can even put a surfboard inside the small Twingo, I’m looking forward for the ZE version.



Volkswagen has the e-Golf and the e-up, good but currently overpriced electric cars.


Volkswagen e-Golf

Volkswagen e-Golf


The e-Golf is about to get a 35,8 kWh battery and a more powerful electric motor, but it’s still overpriced. Volkswagen needs to drop the price to survive the Opel Ampera-e arrival in 2017.



The facelifted Volkswagen e-up

The facelifted Volkswagen e-up


The Volkswagen e-up shouldn’t cost more than 15.000-18.000 € before any government incentives, even when it gets its battery upgraded from 18,7 kWh to 27,6 kWh in 2017.



Nissan could also do great with the facelifted Leaf and the Micra EV based in the Sway Concept.


Nissan Sway Concept that will inspire the new Nissan Micra

Nissan Sway Concept that will inspire the new Nissan Micra


The Nissan Micra EV inspired by the Sway Concept could be a top seller in Japan, North-America and Europe. It has some similarities with the Renault Zoe including the cool factor that the current Leaf is lacking. I’m sure that we’ll see more supermini electric car models on sale in 2017.



More info:

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.

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5 years ago

The problem: ICE manufacturers don’t want to produce BEVs that are significantly superior to their ICE cars. Even Nissan-Renault don’t want to start the revolution, they just want to be prepared. Look at the ZOE: the engineers at Renault did a great job, but the management: no buyable battery, no towing hitch, no splitable rear seat back, no flat trunk, no fast charging anymore (R240) and just three as-it-is versions.
The only company that is serious about BEVs is Tesla, because they only sell BEVs and need to make money with them. All other ICE manufactures burn money with their BEVs and they don’t want to fan the flames under the boiler of self-cannibalism.

Ceterum censeo JavaScript is not necessary.

5 years ago

I have a Q210 Zoe-i and I own the whole car and battery, it can rapid charge (fast charge) to 80% in 20 – 30 minutes, it has a flat boot (trunk), there are 6 versions of the car if you include the 3 “i” versions available in the UK and elsewhere.
The rear seat back folds flat if you remove the rear seat base first (5 minute job)
80 mile winter and 110 summer range suites 99% of our mobility needs.

orinoco have you ever sat in a Renault Zoe?

Jonas Jovial
5 years ago

Vamos a ver o preço do Ampera-e. Mas se vier na casa dos 30k€ ~ 35k€, será um vencedor, de certeza.

Tommy Duhn
5 years ago

Wow, VW really does hate EVs, doesn’t it? A f-cking 10KWh “upgrade” for the E-Up a few years later? Why even bother?

3 years ago

To make people understand the importance of buying and using electric cars, it’s necessary to give them some valid options. Traditional cars are cheaper, faster and with a higher autonomy, unfortunatly. It’s time to improve electric mobility and to create better infrastructures.