For those who follow the fully electric car market, 2016 was exciting. GM introduced the Chevy Bolt a full year ahead of Tesla’s Model 3. It was the first long-range affordable electric car in the United States. For many reasons, we did not really see it in most of Europe.
The following year, 2017, was even better. Tesla launched its long expected Model 3. That car was awesome, the production, not so much. The drama overshadowed what was happening in the rest of the market.
More breakthroughs came in 2018. Hyundai proved to be serious and capable, Kia joined its sister company, Nissan disappointed most followers with the new Leaf, and the Tesla Model 3 finally started to roll off the production line and out of the tent in large numbers.
Meanwhile, in Europe, all we got were some new batteries in existing models. In Jose Pontes’ European top 20, there is not one new fully electric car. But the market did grow in 2017 and 2018, even faster than in the USA if we ignore the Model 3 avalanche. The fully electric cars did grow even faster than the plug-in hybrids as well.
The legacy carmakers did notice. In 2019, there will be over 20 all new fully electric or upgraded fully electric models finding their way to the showrooms. Some, like the Jaguar and Audi, were officially introduced in 2018, but sales will begin in earnest in 2019.
|Tesla||Model 3||50-75||€37k — €80k*||120,000|
|Nissan||Leaf E-Plus||60||€ 37,000*||80,000|
|Renault||Zoe (next gen)||50?||€ 27,000*||60,000|
|Hyundai||Kona EV||64||€ 40,000*||40,000|
|Audi||e-tron quattro||95||€ 85,000||30,000|
|VW||ID Neo||48||€ 30,000*||20,000|
|Kia||Soul EV||39-64||€ 40,000*||20,000|
|Opel / Vauxhall||Corsa||60||€ 30,000*||5,000|
|DS||DS3 Crossback||50||€ 35,000*||4,000|
*Prices are determined after extensive studies using tea leaves, different crystal balls, laying the tarot, and drawing each car’s horoscope. If at some future date a dealer (or, heaven forbid, a carmaker) decides to use a different price, the stars are at fault. You can not hold me responsible (I don’t know what that is).
The sales volumes are the market potential for these models if they are sold for a whole year. Models that will enter the market only in Q4 will see a significantly lower number of sales than I predict in this table. See these numbers more like relative popularity / demand indicators.
This is the 800 pound gorilla in the market. The competition should be very glad that Tesla does not have the capacity to bring the Standard Range (SR) option and lower trim levels to market before the end of 2019. Now it will be in the same league as the fully electric vehicles (BEVs) from Audi, Jaguar, and Mercedes. The Tesla has better range and a better charging network.
I have no idea about the “cool” factor of the Model 3 in Europe. It is probably less than in the USA, but still high. With over 100,000 reservations, of which probably half can be converted into high-trim orders, 120,000 should be a realistic goal for this car. I expect that the test drives every new owner gives to family, neighbors, and colleagues will sell at least one extra car, thus creating a solid market for 2020.
|Nissan||Leaf E-Plus||60kWh||€ 37,000*||80,000|
When crossing the threshold from not enough range to 200+ miles of range, combined with superfast charging, the sales can double. What can potentially be a problem is production capacity in the plant in Sunderland. It is shared with Nissan’s big money making Qashqai. Neither model has another European production location available, and with the uncertainty surrounding Brexit, I don’t expect investments in new production capacity at the moment.
The plant in Smyrna, Tennessee, has some spare room. Otherwise, Nissan will have a lot of disappointed European customers.
|Renault||Zoe (next generation)||50?kWh||€27,000*||60,000|
The Renault Zoe will get an overhaul ahead of the transition to the new platform in 2021–2022. The capacity in the factory has been doubled from 220/day to 440/day, and for the other main inhabitant of the factory, there is a second production location in Turkey.
What the new features are is not clear, likely a better battery and faster charging. I will report from Geneva Mondiale de l’Automobile or Frankfurt IAA with more info on this. The Renault EV manager needs to get the national organizations better focused on selling the Zoe. Some are doing great, like Sweden, but others not so much. I am looking at you, Amsterdam!
The i3 is a well-known quantity, but with the 42 kWh battery upgrade, it enters another segment of the market. If any company dropped the ball after a brilliant start, it is BMW. A year ago in Frankfurt, I thought it could not be serious by claiming it was beating Tesla with its various fake-EV plug-in hybrids, but it was apparently no joke.
Next I knew, BMW changed course and was going all-in before I could write a devastating article about its misconceptions. I was overjoyed. Until the company proclaimed that its new policy — diesel PHEVs were the answer. VW is the champion of vaporware, but BMW changes course more often than the ball in a pinball machine. It should have been TILT at least a dozen times.
But the i3 is a great display of BMW engineers’ technical prowess, and still modern. With this new battery, it can compete with the big boys.
|Hyundai||Kona EV||64kWh||€ 40,000*||40,000|
|Hyundai||Ioniq EV||39kWh||€ 34,000*||20,000|
|Kia||Soul EV||39kWh-64kWh||€ 40,000*||20,000|
Hyundai entered the BEV market as an afterthought, more or less by accident. The Ioniq was the multi-platform gas, hybrid, PHEV, hydrogen fuel cell showcase until someone decided to also make a full battery electric version. Because some misguided people asked for it.
That is what more carmakers should do more often, listen to their customers. The Ioniq is now the company’s BEV showcase, of which there are also some other versions. Buyers prefer the fully electric option in many markets. The battery is too small — it has to fit into the space allotted for H2 fuel tanks — but modern battery tech allowed a nice increase in capacity for next year’s model in the same physical space. It is one of the most popular electric taxis and will gain many more fans.
That battery mistake was not repeated. The Kona EV and e-Niro have batteries that make range anxiety a thing of the past. Kia has upgraded its old compliance car, the Soul EV, with a 39kWh and 64kWh battery. It is a compliance car no more. The e-Niro has the same battery choices.
The biggest problem for this Korean quartet will likely be battery supply, not lack of customers. They are offering what the Bolt promised but never could deliver — a great BEV with enough range at an appealing price.
|Audi||e-tron quattro||95kWh||€ 85,000||30,000|
Without a doubt the most serious competitor to the Tesla Model 3, the e-tron quattro is a very popular body style from one of the Big Three in luxury cars. It is produced in ample quantity at the rebuilt Brussels plant. All current Audi customers, and there are many in Europe, will feel directly at home in this car.
As one can expect from a European luxury car, there are a plethora of options. What makes that sensible is that the car is only available as a special order item, as is usual in Europe.
As the name implies, it has all-wheel drive. Something else that will make it very popular is that it is certified for towing a braked weight of 1,800kg. It is also fast enough for the German Autobahn with a max speed of 200 km/h. The only drawback will be that 200 km/h will not last for over 3 hours on the Autobahn. But even gas-guzzlers will have a hard time driving 3 hours at that speed.
This Jaguar is not made by Jaguar, but by Magna Steyr in Austria. Jaguar has a reputation for beautiful cars that are brilliantly engineered … and that will put you on a first name base with the mechanics of your dealer. You open your purse when you buy it, and you won’t close it until you have to say goodbye, but you will love your car. Magna-Steyr has a completely different reputation in building cars. Hopefully this will determine the build quality. If that is the case, this is an awesome car and will sell a lot more than any Jaguar before it.
The I-PACE feels at home on dirt roads and circuits and everything in between. It can tow a braked weight of 750kg and on the roof there is place for a luggage box. Jaguar has used its sister brand Land Rover’s experience to build a really practical SUV.
This is a typical old-style Mercedes. Calm and robust, but hidden beneath the tranquil looks is a very capable driving machine that can bring you where you want, when you want. Mercedes has decided to start careful with lower numbers, both to get a better feel for customer reactions and to learn how this car is behaving in practice. Perhaps a lesson learned from its first A-Class, which failed the moose test.
Mercedes has the production capacity. Without bad surprises and as long as it receives positive reactions from customers, I expect the production numbers to climb
Great car, but it is already all sold and far too expensive for my taste. Porsche has been testing it at the Nürburgring, to make sure it would not have problems the Tesla Model S has on this circuit. It is known as perhaps the most demanding circuit in the world and a top performance on it was a design target.
This car is perhaps the best booster of Tesla Model 3 Performance sales Elon could dream of. For everyone who wants a Taycan and is not willing to wait two years, or has only half the money to spend, there is the Tesla available in 3–5 months.
VW Minicar Triplets
I might end up driving one of these for my daily driving. Nothing wrong with these cars. There is a reason these small cars are so popular in Europe. They are unbelievably practical. If they get the price just a bit lower than my prediction, sales can be way higher than my forecast.
This is a great example of how VW uses its three brands — Volkswagen, Skoda, and Seat — to sell essentially the same cars to different consumer groups in slightly different versions.
For more news, wait for the next car show.
|Opel / Vauxhall||Corsa||60kWh||€ 30,000*||5,000|
|DS||DS3 Crossback||50kWh||€ 35,000*||4,000|
|Peugeot||2008 CUV||60kWh||€ 35,000*||2,000|
The DS3 was one of the hot items at the Paris Motor Show. It is just like the Jaguar, a luxury SUV that will appeal to a small portion of the public. The DS brand is new, delivering more up-scale versions of the Citröen brand vehicles. In some markets, it is a sub-brand of Citröen; in others, it is independent.
The other three were held in reserve. There was already too much plug-in news from PSA. The Peugeot 2008 and the DS3 are SUVs, direct competitors to the e-Niro and Kona EV. The 208 and Corsa will compete with the Zoe, until now the only BEV in the b-segment. We will have choice in Europe!
On the list, there is also the VW ID Neo and BMW Mini electric. Honda has made announcements too vague to even reach this list. Tata and JAC are considering the European market, and others might follow. Some carmakers like to surprise us.
When there is more definitive news on any of these, you will find it in another article. But for now, there is a bit of credibility lacking. Sorry, I like you and it was great talking to you in Frankfurt, Geneva, and Paris, but it would be really great if I could offer test drives. I would write a biased and unprofessional review, together with my photographer, who has completely different biases and preferences — honest and direct from our hearts.
This year is going to be the year that the BEV becomes mainstream in Europe. Not yet in sales volumes in most markets, but with enough models and options in all price classes to use that word.
Our editor for worldwide sales statistics, Jose Pontes, who helped with the guestimates for volumes and is a great inspiration overall, will write every month about the cars on this list and others that have been a solid entry in the plug-in electric vehicle market for years — which cars make his top 20 in which markets, what markets blossom with these new entrants, and who will join Norway and Iceland with double digit EV market share.
There are also a dozen PHEV coming to market, or perhaps more. Will they still have a market, or will it be too little too late for them?
The European market is going to be an exciting market. And for all Europeans reading this, visit every dealer near you for the brands on this list and ask for a test drive. That’s the best way to teach them there is a market.
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