While in most countries the battery rental in Renault electric cars was no longer mandatory for a while, the domestic market (France) was the exception.
However, starting next month, French buyers will be able to pay 8.900 € (20 % VAT included) extra and get the Renault Zoe with the ZE 40 battery included. No more lifetime rental.
Let’s see Zoe’s prices in France before government subsidies.
- Renault ZOE Life: 23.700 € (with battery rental); 32.600 € (without battery rental)
- Renault ZOE Zen: 25.100 € (with battery rental); 34.000 € (without battery rental)
- Renault ZOE Intens: 25.900 € (with battery rental); 34.800 € (without battery rental)
- Renault ZOE Edition One: 28.300 € (with battery rental); 37.200 € (without battery rental)
Without question, it’s great that the battery rental is no longer mandatory, but it doesn’t solve everything.
For start, if 8.900 € seem excessive to you, you’re right. In Portugal where the VAT is higher (23 %), to avoid the battery rental buyers have to pay 7.500 € extra, which is 1.400 € less.
However, the problem isn’t the battery’s price. The real problem is that even without the battery the Renault Zoe is extremely overpriced when compared to gas counterparts like the Renault Clio or the Nissan Micra – that are made at the same Renault Flins plant as the Zoe.
For example, the new-generation Nissan Micra is a much better equipped car with plenty of modern safety features that help to prevent accidents and has a starting price of roughly 12.000 €…
Furthermore, government subsidies are counter-productive and are actually used to keep prices artificially high.
It’s not a surprise that when governments subsidize private goods, the subsidies go straight to the pockets of corporations who sell them, instead of helping to reduce prices for consumers. Moreover, to keep receiving the subsidies, corporations will keep prices high to justify them. It’s basic economics! Just look at subsidized private health care or education in the USA…
With the French Government subsidy of 6.000 € included, Renault Zoe Intens costs 19.700 € (20 % VAT included). While in Portugal for example, with only 2.250 € of government subsidies to buy an electric car, the same Renault Zoe Intens costs 17.070 € (23 % VAT included)…
Nonetheless, not all public policies are stupid and counter-productive. There are governmental policies that work. For example, if a government wants to promote health and increase the consumption of healthy food, it doesn’t subsidize it – because it won’t work -, instead it raises taxes on the unhealthy food, or even bans dangerous ingredients.
To sum up, legacy automakers don’t want to change things and sell electric cars, they’re fine with the status quo. They’ll only get serious about selling electric cars when selling their current mainstream cars becomes more difficult or even impossible. It’s better to sell electric cars than nothing at all…
Giving subsidies won’t work, they’ll just take them and keep doing the same old, same old. Governments have to make selling ICE (Internal Combustion Engine) cars much more difficult to promote change. Either by increasing taxes or even ban them, since their current prices don’t reflect their real costs to society.
Sorry for the long rant. The end of the mandatory battery rental is definitely good news and a step forward, but there are a lot more underlying problems that we need to address to promote electric car adoption.
It baffles me how so many people that I consider intelligent such as electric car fans or associations, ask for more government subsidies to buy EVs, instead of demanding higher taxes for ICE cars and fossil fuels to promote EV adoption.
Anyway, what do you think? Is the end of mandatory battery rental in France enough to make the Renault Zoe a good alternative to more modern electric car models that start to arrive?