Why electric cars are posting record sales

1:00 pm, October 9, 2022

It was just a matter of months. Sales of electric cars surpassed those of diesel-powered cars in September. The penetration of plug-in vehicles is now 13% over the year in France. Volumes remain modest at around 20,000 records per month. But in the wake of the market, which rose in August and September for the first time this year, electric cars are posting record sales. In the face of diesel, it even took a symbolic step. By multiplying the launches of models converted to hybrids or purely electric, manufacturers have largely supported this change. The offer is plethoric. At the Paris Motor Show, which opens its doors on October 17, exhibitors, with Renault in the lead, will confirm this accelerated conversion of the fleet and, above all, the new codes that are shaking the market.

The appetite is there. Companies no longer represent the majority of customers

The tram shuffles the cards first in the buyers family. Companies no longer represent the majority of customers. Individuals are more numerous, but above all much younger than those of internal combustion vehicles. Opportunity plays a secondary role with limited transaction volumes. Innovation has caught up with funding methods. Finally, sales reflect a search for basic models at low prices. French manufacturers are taking advantage of this.

“The appetite is there, insists Fabrice Cambolive, director of operations at Renault. There were discrepancies in terms of cost and doubts about technologies, but the balance is being found. » The manufacturer now makes one in four sales of its plug-in vehicles and confirms a much larger share of individuals among its electromobility customers. Porte de Versailles, the brand will present two iconic models, which should bring it back to the top of the podium. The commercialization of the final version of the R5 exhibited at Mondial is scheduled for 2024. The following year, the 4L will arrive under concession. Its return is in the chassis of a small SUV, a format in which Renault was not present and which corresponds to a potential of 5 million units in Europe.

Like all its 100% electric vehicles, the R5 and 4L will be manufactured in French factories. A discussion in which Luca de Meo, head of the group, bets big. This is already the case with the e-Mégane, produced in Douai, which is starting to fly. Launched in June, it has already registered 35,000 orders and “its customer base” grows every month, guarantees the manufacturer.

Limit barriers to purchase

R5 is aiming for a career as convincing as that of the Stellantis group nugget. The e-Fiat 500 could see the price sensitivity of the market. Its sales really took off when the manufacturer decided to offer the vehicle with the smallest capacity, smaller battery and therefore cheaper. “When the selling price to the public went from 31,700 to 28,400 euros, the effect was immediate”, explains Sandrine Bouvier, responsible for electric mobility at Stellantis. For the specialist, the success of the 500, which offers less than 200 kilometers of autonomy, confirms another change: buyers no longer seem to fear the risk of electrical failure.

This purchase price sensitivity on the part of motorists is also behind another notable entry into plug-in cars: the Dacia Spring. The city car is boosting sales for the only growing brand in Europe in the first half (+6%), with a remarkable third place in the private market. Sold from 4 euros a day with four years of free maintenance, Dacia plays the agile financing card.

The rising cost of gasoline in the spring gave us a big boost

Because the manufacturers understood that the 6,000 euro bonus, the 2,500 euro conversion bonus and even the ZFE surcharge [zone à faibles émissions] of 1,000 euros would not be enough to drain a massive flow to the concessions. Financial mechanisms designed to guide drivers towards zero emissions compete on originality and hit the nail on the head. Almost 80% of vehicles sold in the private channel are sold thanks to an offer linked by the manufacturer’s banking organization. At Peugeot, where this rate rises to 90% on the e-208, we even imagined an offer per kilometer, inspired by the rental model: a rent of 150 euros per month based on 500 kilometers per month and 7 cents per kilometer. These extra-flexible financial offers with return commitments help limit barriers to purchase. The puzzle of the vehicle’s residual value, that is, how much its owner can get from it on resale, is passed on to the lender. This explains the sluggishness of the second-hand market, devoid of offers despite demand. On Spoticar, Peugeot’s second-hand website, only 4,000 rechargeable models are offered in a catalog of 40,000 vehicles.

a reasonable purchase

In concessions, sellers also had to review your software “. The electrified car is presented as a purchase of reason. The potential customer must be convinced by “total user cost”. As far as his usage habits are concerned, an algorithm is responsible for showing him that giving up a heat engine can save money. “The rising cost of gasoline in the spring gave us a big boost,” recognizes Sandrine Bouvier. The virtual absence of a maintenance budget or even extended battery life has also made it possible to eliminate reluctance. “The technologies are already mastered. They can still get better at recycling.”believes Fabrice Cambolive, who is sure of one thing: electricity is “the product of tomorrow”.

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