it’s going really fast!

With a market share of 16% in September, sales of electric cars surpassed those of diesel for the first time in France. Should we rejoice? I don’t believe.

First, this sales boom comes at a time when the European industry is not ready to feed it. Not a single one of the promised gigafactories, these giant battery-making factories, has yet emerged from the ground, and all European manufacturers still source almost exclusively from Asian batteries for what still weighs in between half and a third of the cost of their production.

Next up, the only affordable new electric car (or nearly: €13,800 to €15,300 bonus deducted) for the average Frenchman – and one of the best sellers – is the Dacia Spring…made in China. A small car made to sleep at work and even to drop the kids off at school and do the night shopping, but nothing more and that at the price of a pre-Covid thermal compact. All the others are still at stratospheric prices considering the average salary which is €1,940 and even the average salary: €2,424.

The popular electric wagon doesn’t exist yet and I don’t see it coming. Anyway, not from France, Germany or Italy, but I’ll get to that…

Wealthy shoppers drive little

From a social point of view, the result is disastrous: from what I see, hear and read, it is the urban rich who, because they have the means, are converting to “power”. There is little to no crowd of those who have a real economic need: rural and peri-urban people who are ruined by their high daily mileage, and all the more so because they have been massively encouraged to switch from diesel to gasoline.

They are not resistant to electricity, their prices simply do not match the maximum €5,000 to €10,000 they dedicate to the purchase of a used car.

A pity because its conversion would not cost much for the community, they have an outlet at home to recharge while there will never be enough terminals and never enough powerful in the streets and parking lots for the residents of the city.

Electric Car: It's Going Too Fast!

Ecologically speaking, the same picture: you have to drive a lot to offset the high CO2 impact of battery manufacturing. What the vast majority of today’s buyers don’t: The average annual mileage of a driver in metropolitan areas is two to three times less than that of a rural or suburban resident.

Those who doubt that can search the classifieds for the ridiculously low annual miles of the vast majority of second-hand trams.

Every month, a Chinese news

Electric Car: It's Going Too Fast!

Very fast too, because in the absence of an affordable offer and forcing the buyer’s hand with ZFE and subsidizing the purchase up to €11,000 (bonus + conversion premium) the red carpet is rolled out for Chinese industry.

As a result, not a month goes by without the announcement of the arrival in Europe of a new model or a new car brand from China, all with prices much lower than those of continental brands. An MG4 costs €8,000 less than a directly comparable electric Mégane. Furthermore, European sales of this former British brand are no longer anecdotal.

Nothing surprising. Faced with a consumer who looks at his bank account before his passport, frenetic prices and a shortage that puts delivery times from six months to a year, any manufacturer, even unknown and without a network of resellers, enters the old continent like butter.

No more 2000s tin cars

Electric Car: It's Going Too Fast!

And when I write “any manufacturer” I don’t see anything derogatory: Chinese manufacturers have made a half-century leap in 10 years.

All you have to do is hop aboard an Aiways or MG to see – and feel – that the build quality is now up to our standards. Even the design now rivals that of the Europeans.

As for safety, we should forget about the hilarious crash tests of the tinplate Chinese of the 2000s: they now boast 5 stars in the EuroNcap and offer the full range of driving aids.

Add to this that their expertise in electrification is superior to that of Europeans and that their batteries are sometimes technically ahead and the reality seems quite raw: our auto industry had only one small advantage in one area: overall engine heat and diesel in particular. The stigmatized diesel that now sells less than the electric one.

I absolutely don’t see how the European auto industry could resist this increase because Germany, for whom China is a vital outlet for its industry, will never accept increased quotas or tariffs for fear of retaliation.

On customs, in August, they announced that the French trade deficit reached, over the course of a year, 139 billion euros, against 85 billion a year earlier. For those who don’t see it, I put the zeros: 139,000,000,000€.

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