Electric cars are more expensive to buy than thermal cars, but the various government aids allow certain models to be displayed at attractive prices. At the entry level, it is even possible to afford a new electric car without necessarily breaking the bank. We’re going to take a quick look at what the most popular entry-level electric cars are worth.
Without government aid, electric cars remain even more expensive compared to their thermal equivalence. There are many reasons for this: the costs linked to the development of new technologies (batteries, etc.) or even the proliferation of on-board technologies (driving aids, etc.) making it possible to increase margins.
According to several major automotive leaders, like Carlos Tavares for Stellantis or Luca de Meo for Renault, it will take several more years before an electric car reaches the same price level as its thermal equivalent. It remains to be seen whether this is because the price of an electric car will have fallen or whether that of a thermal model will have increased. We have our little idea, and something tells us that it will not necessarily go in the direction of the consumer even if the price of batteries should drop significantly by 2030.
Even if several financing solutions exist in order to absorb the cost of an electric car as much as possible, certain customers will prefer, given their budget or their needs, to move towards an entry-level electric model. But does this mean that “entry level” also means “lower quality” in the world of electric cars? This is what we wanted to verify by sifting through several entry-level models available in France.
Are the entry-level models less well equipped?
Basically yes, but with the new standards in terms of safety, entry-level models are now equipped with all the “basic” safety elements of a car and the technologies that go with it. The independent European crash-test body Euro NCAP now takes into account driver assistance technologies in its rating system and a car that is not equipped with them will necessarily be entitled to a bad rating. Even if the car is not “dangerous” in itself, a poor rating in terms of safety is obviously a criterion that could put off some customers.
The cheapest electric car on the market, namely the Dacia Spring which starts, before the bonus, from 16,800 euros, already includes some equipment which was not necessarily standard on a new entry-level car there still 10 years old. We find, for example, air conditioning, electric windows, emergency braking assistance, on-board computer and Bluetooth.
With other manufacturers, such as Peugeot with its 208, the model is offered both in combustion and in electric. And the electric version is not offered with the entry-level finish, for the simple reason that the customer, particularly in France, is not necessarily a fan of models without options. The Peugeot e-208 (which we were able to try for a long time) is thus equipped, as standard, with a 7-inch touch screen, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, automatic air conditioning, cruise control or even the Safety Pack (automatic emergency braking with collision risk alert).
What autonomy can we expect for an entry-level model?
The cheapest electric cars on the market do not necessarily benefit from the best level of autonomy, but again, everything will also depend on your use. A Dacia Spring with a range of “only” 230 km of autonomy is more than enough for daily use, that is to say journeys between home and office and even a few little extras.
Overall, entry-level models still benefit from small-capacity batteries. It all depends on the segment of the car. Some brands, such as Peugeot, Citroën or Opel for example, have chosen to offer only one single battery. Conversely, manufacturers such as Hyundai and Kia leave it up to customers to choose their battery according to their needs.
Overall, for a compact or small SUV, even entry-level, the battery capacity fluctuates around 50 kWh, enough to give the car a real off-highway range of around 300 km (i.e. 400 km WLTP) . They are not the queens of versatility, but it is enough for the majority of customers.
Some models, whose main use will be confined to the city, benefit from batteries with a small capacity. This is for example the case of our Dacia Spring, again it, and its 27.4 kWh battery, or even the electric Fiat 500 (which we really appreciated) and its smaller 23.8 kWh battery. . The autonomy of the small Italian is announced at 190 km in mixed use, and 257 only in town. It is not enough, but once again sufficient if the car is only required to make short trips.
Let’s also mention Volkswagen and its city car, the e-UP. With its small 24 kWh battery, it manages to offer a mixed WLTP range of 260 kilometers and more than 350 kilometers in the city. A fairly interesting price / autonomy ratio.
Does power still matter for an electric car?
Power is a subject that today comes quite far in the purchase criteria of a customer looking for an electric vehicle. The latter will first look at the price, the autonomy and the endowment of equipment. It must be said that having torque available instantly sometimes gives the impression of having a lightning bolt between 0 and 50 km/h, even at the wheel of a simple Renault Zoé that we had the opportunity to test.
However, it is necessary to have a minimum of power to benefit from a suitable driving pleasure, electric cars being heavier than their thermal equivalent. Most of the time, even for an entry-level model, the power exceeds 100 horsepower. Enough to evolve serenely for any type of journey, at 80 or 130 km/h.
Be careful, however, for some models really intended for everyday use, such as the Dacia Spring and its 44 horsepower and 125 Nm of torque, this will be really too tight. As we pointed out during our test, above 110 km/h, it gets really windy. The 0 to 100 km/h takes almost 20 seconds, while the maximum speed does not exceed 125 km/h. Apart from the Spring, the majority of cars on the market have enough power for any purpose.
What price for an entry-level model?
The majority of new cars today are purchased (we should even use the term “lease” instead) with financing. And manufacturers sometimes offer particularly interesting monthly payments, more than for thermals, thanks in particular to the ecological bonus as well as the conversion bonus. For some models, this aid can reach 11,000 euros, or even more if you are lucky enough to benefit from regional bonuses (as in the Lot) or intended for professionals (like the aid from the Métropole du Grand Paris ). A sum that can thus constitute a contribution and radically lower the monthly payments, sometimes below the bar of 100 € / month.
The Dacia Spring is today the cheapest new electric car on the market in France. It starts from 16,800 euros, and 12,264 euros once the ecological bonus has been deducted (6,000 euros, but limited to 27% of the new price of a car, therefore reduced to 4,536 euros for the Spring). At this price, you will not necessarily have the most versatile car and – it must be said all the same – the Spring is not an example in terms of finish and perceived quality.
To have an electric car that is starting to be versatile, you have to look for the Peugeot e-208 and other Renault Zoé, the two French stars which start at 27,950 and 26,800 euros respectively, with an ecological bonus of 6,000 euros deducted. The Peugeot claims around 340 km of range in mixed use, while the Renault does a little better with 395 km. The entry ticket for an electric car today runs between 25,000 and 30,000 euros for a model that is both versatile and fairly well equipped. Do not hesitate to take a look at our file of the best new cars under 30,000 euros.
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