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):
- Volkswagen Golf: 321.772 (units sold)
- Renault Clio: 211.139 (units sold)
- Volkswagen Polo: 204.227 (units sold)
- Ford Fiesta: 165.347 (units sold)
- Opel Corsa: 153.001 (units sold)
- Nissan QASHQAI: 143.266 (units sold)
- Peugeot 208: 141.115 (units sold)
- Skoda Octavia: 139.213 (units sold)
- Volkswagen Passat: 128.877 (units sold)
- 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):
- Renault Zoe: 11.872
- Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV: 11.176
- Nissan Leaf: 10.927
- Tesla Model S: 6.834
- Volkswagen Golf GTE: 5.694
- Volvo XC90 T8: 4.995
- BMW i3: 4.886
- Volkswagen Passat GTE: 4.635
- Mercedes C350e: 4.305
- 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 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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.