The European fully electric car market saw many new models in 2020 and the start of 2021. This was a result of the new EU regulation on Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE). I’ve been trying to explore and test drive as many of these as possible. Here’s a quick summary of 13 of these EV models and my initial thoughts on them.
The Mercedes-Benz eVito is the only van on the list. The base model has been for sale longer, but the introduction of a 100 kWh battery opened a new market and bigger possibilities for this vehicle. Vans are in Europe what pickup trucks are in the USA (to some extent). While it is officially a commercial transport vehicle, there are many private persons who prefer a van over a car. There are often double-cabin and pure-MPV versions of these vans. The eVito Tourer is very popular with taxi companies as a mini bus.
The Mercedes-Benz EQS is the flagship of the brand. New technologies are first introduced here. You could even say Mercedes-Benz is beta testing its most advanced ideas with its most demanding customers. The EQS shares a platform with the EQE, but the more interesting features are only available as options (like the steering rear axle) or not at all (like the larger battery available on the EQE). The most liked features will get to the lower models over time. The steering axle and the larger battery will be especially popular options on a lot of models.
The Mercedes-Benz EQB is called a 7-seat crossover SUV, previously called an MPV. It has a bit too much ground clearance and a too little head room to be called an MPV. It is based on the GLB, so it is SUV. But the GLB is a descendant of the B-Class, which makes it a crossover. This little rant is directed at the marketing drones of the car industry who found a way to sell a soccer-mom vehicle to the Marlboro Man. I like MPVs more than the SUV/CUV versions that cannot decide what they are. But that is very personal.
The Mercedes B-Class is the C-segment hatchback that must compete with the Audi A3 and BMW 2 Series. It is great to have a CUV/SUV version, but honestly, why is it called a different model? It is perfect for a young family with kids, or older people who do not want a bigger car anymore. For both, there are use cases that can benefit from a bit more range. The standard range version is adequate, but a long range option is sorely missed. I have a feeling the Mercedes-Benz managers defining the model lines see it as a second car for the soccer mom partners of their bigger car owners.
The first fully electric and affordable station wagon comes from a British brand that emigrated to China. As all station wagons, it scores high on usability. Before the pickup became the vehicle of choice for professionals, the stations wagon was the vehicle for craftsman and travelling salespeople. What you gained in space with a station wagon, you surrendered in status. In these days of luxury CUVs, SUVs, and even pickups, the hit to your status when driving one is a thing of the past. This is now a car for sensible people.
The Megane is the car for those who would really like to drive a Porsche 911 or an Alpine A110 but are sentenced by their wallet to drive a “cheap” C-segment vehicle through rush-hour traffic. Renault engineers have used every trick in the book, and some only known to their F1 engineering team, to make it as close to a sporty fossil fuel vehicle as possible. Their main goal was reducing the weight and increasing the agility. For these characteristics, it got the highest marks from the jurors in last year’s European Car Of The Year award and ended in second place overall.
The Volkswagen ID.5 doesn’t need much of an introduction. It is the coupe version of the ID.4. It is half an inch longer and an inch lower. Its wheelbase and width are the same, as are the battery and motor. The range of the ID.5 is a bit more, likely thanks to better streamlined design. It should just be called the ID.4 Coupe. Choosing between the ID.4 and ID.5 is likely be solely based on aesthetics (and a small bit more trunk space).
This is the sporty cousin of the Volkswagen ID.3. The ID.3 has a 107 kW and a 150 kW motor. The Cupra Born has the same 150 kW motor and a stronger 170 kW option. I will write a 1st impressions article of the Cupra Born, but I doubt I will be able to discern the difference in driving characteristics. I am just not a sports car driver. The VW Golf had a very popular GTI version, the dream of many young drivers. The price put it out of reach — it was the “halo” version of the Golf. It did sell many simpler trim levels of the Golf, though. The relationship between the Cupra Born and the ID.3 is the same. Only, by putting it in a different brand with a different model name, the effect on ID.3 sales is much lower.
The Volvo C40 is the coupe version of the Volvo XC40, like the VW ID.5 is the coupe version of the ID.4. Judging by the sales numbers, many customers think it is great value for the money. It is too big and too expensive for me, but clearly I am in the minority. It has perhaps the best one-pedal driving of all the cars on this list.
While new in Europe, the NIO ES8 is really a golden oldie. Sales of the next-generation ES8 will start in June 2023 in China and have a giga cast underbody with what looks like a structural battery. What is currently for sale in Europe is still worth the money, mostly because the competition fails to make something that can compete both on value and price.
This is, to me, the most fun looking car now on the market. Not on the outside — most cars look too much alike. On the inside it is different. I expect it to get a place in museums, or at least galleries, for its funny, original design. There is nothing wrong with its driving or usability, and it has a great price for the value it offers. It is not yet a household name. The many far better known Japanese competitors can offer an inferior product for a higher price and sell many more of them. This situation will not last long, though. The public has a knack for finding these things out rather quickly.
This is a good example of price parity being reached with more luxurious portions of the market. The 4-door’s i4 price is neatly between the 2-door coupe and 4-door gran coupe in the same BMW 4 Series.
When Audi called its first serious BEV the e-tron, Audi did not realize that it was not a name that showed the class the vehicle was in. The next one became the Q4 e-tron. Now Audi has realized its oversight and renamed the original e-tron the Q8 e-tron.
BMW is in the same situation. The iX lacks the number all BMW models have to designate the series they belong to. The advice on the showroom floor was to think of the iX as the iX7. I think I will do that. It is the fully electric (i) crossover SUV (X) in the BMW 7 Series. The more motor-sport (M) version will get another classifier in its designation.
The Kia EV6 is such a well known car that I thought I did not need to write about it. I was wrong. I did not know anything about it. Some reviewers thought it a good candidate for car of the year in their country or continent. I will go onto my knees and ask Kia to give me the opportunity to really get to know the EV6. Until then, go to YouTube or your other favorite website. You can also read what my colleague who knows more about cars than I ever will learn wrote about the EV6.
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