My Renault Twingo 1.5 dCi is 7.5 years old, and while it is a great little car, it is not electric. With new longer range models that have less problematic prices, the time to switch has finally arrived for me.
Methodical as I am in situations like this, I made a list of the most important features to look for in a new car.
But there is a question I have to answer first. As a CleanTechnica writer, I feel that I am supposed to know that there is really nothing that can compete with the Tesla Model 3. But I am a European, and I have slightly different preferences and priorities from most people who write about cars.
The Model 3 is far too big for my taste — it should be 3 feet shorter and a foot smaller. It has a trunk instead of a sensible hatch. The seats are too low and the headrest is not comfortable. It is a rear-wheel drive car while I prefer front-wheel drive. Those are the cons.
There are also a number of “I don’t care” aspects that are mostly viewed as very desirable. Those are all the sporty driving, high speed, quick acceleration, and superb cornering qualities. When I was young and wanted sporty driving, my choice was the Honda 500 4 cylinder bike. No car can compare to that feeling of the wind in your face and using your body weight to conquer a curve. It is a bit like dancing. The Tesla sound system is another great attribute that is wasted on me. I prefer to drive in silence.
Now, a look at my list for a new car, what it should offer besides electric driving with enough range and charging capacity to drive 500 km / 325 miles to Paris in the same time and effort as with my Twingo diesel.
At the top, #1 with a large distance to option #2, is autonomous driving. Getting older, having declining health, a wandering mind, etc., I know that to stay mobile I will need a vehicle that can take me from my home to Paris, Barcelona, Athens, or Stockholm. And also to my kids and family and to the grocery store. No, I have no intention of flying, traveling by train, or being locked with a few dozen other elderly strollers into a coach.
#2: In absence of #1, cruise control, preferably a good ADAS, but any that will let me remove my feet from the pedals will do.
#3: Climate control.
#4: Road trip capable, adequate range, and charging.
#5: Small size. The Twingo is about the right size, a bit bigger is acceptable. That said, if a Model Y could double as a camper with only 2 seats in the front, it might be considered.
#6: Upright seating with easy ingress and egress for obese and stiff-jointed elderly people.
#7: Light interior.
#8: Price and total cost of ownership. Of course, within budget, but lower is better.
All but the first requirement can be satisfied by the VW ID.3, Nissan Leaf 60kW, Zoe ZE50, three models from PSA, or three models from Hyundai/Kia. What a difference a year can make! Last year, the only serious option was the Model 3. We now have 9 other options (in Europe). After scrutinizing all of the online configurators and option lists, the Renault Zoe looks the most economical, or the best value for the money.
The Zoe lacks the FSD package and sensor suite, though. Also, no OTA updates and no deployment as a robotaxi. Not that I have any intention of sharing my mobile private room with anybody.
The price difference is over €20,000. Is an option that is not available for at least the next 3–4 years worth €20,000? Will there be good used car option in 6–8 years that offers a FSD package for the money I save now?
I expected to buy a Model 3 with FSD from the moment it was announced. Now I have to reconsider this choice that has been rock solid in my mind for years.
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