“Too expensive”, “too little autonomy”: why the French are not ready for the electric car

At the Lyon Motor Show, we got in touch with visitors. The opportunity to draw up a ranking of the main brakes when buying an electric vehicle – even though the IPCC report has just recommended the electric car as one of the most effective solutions for reducing CO2 emissions in the world. ‘atmosphere.

20 years ago we were pressured to buy diesel, now electric. And in 15 years, what are they going to tell us to make us buy new cars? it’s all artificial.” To listen to this retired couple, the subject is thorny. Autonomy, price of vehicles, battery pollution… The electric car, they are not in favor.

The Lyon Motor Show, from 7th to 11th April 2022, was a good environment to get in touch with people interested in cars and take the opportunity to get the pulse of a subject like electric vehicles.

On the curve of the event’s stands, and in front of 100% electric models, quite highlighted by the fair’s organization, we interviewed the visitors. Retired or working couples, single women, single men, small groups of friends, our goal was to collect your opinions about the electric car. This is an opportunity for us to list the main obstacles to buying, as stated by this panel of visitors.

Autonomy: the systematically cited blockade

Even though electric cars offer more and more autonomy, this characteristic remains the first limitation cited by respondents, who are generally reluctant to go electric: “I still don’t have confidence in autonomy. many restrictions we’ve heard it several times s. The only people who haven’t talked about the limit of autonomy are those who… have already given in to electric, whether they own Zoé or Tesla.

Two friends, both driving a Dacia (thermal), also stood out, when looking at Dacia Spring from all angles, one of them said, quite clairvoyant: “ You have to buy the vehicle that corresponds to 95% of your trips. “He would be ready to keep his current diesel Duster for the remaining 5% of trips, ie the few times a year the car is used for long distances.

Dacia Spring at the Lyon Motor Show // Source: Raphaelle Baut for Numerama

We tried to find out from what range mileage this brake could be raised. 300km? 500km? The famous 1,000 km of which even Elon Musk struggles to see the usefulness? Few visitors had thought about the issue in numbers, with the exception of this Renault Zoé owner, who kept a thermal vehicle in the foyer: “ Between 500 and 700 km of real autonomy, it would be nice to ditch the main diesel, but it could be with hydrogen instead of electric.”

A paradox, because talking to people close to the Citroën AMI, which has only 75 km of autonomy, most people think that this is enough performance for this little car without a license, for urban trips.

Behind the criticism of the lack of autonomy of electric cars, many other fears about the use of the vehicle are often hidden. In the second car, the debate is more open, but as the main vehicle, there are still roadblocks. People are generally afraid of the unknown.

In an apartment, charging a car remains the biggest concern

Whether they live in a single-family home or an apartment, the billing approach does not pose the same problems for everyone. The lack of access to an outlet or terminal, for apartment dwellers, is often a blocking point for switching to an electric vehicle, but also to a plug-in hybrid.

I can’t recharge at home. In the countryside, there is a lack of charging points outside the home “, confides this a craftsman, for whom having to go electric would be a big problem. He drives an SUV every day, lives at a resort in the Alps and cannot park at home because of the size of his vehicle. Even if there are utilities in electric, it’s not for him.

If some apartment dwellers have parking spaces where there would be a way to install an outlet, they fear the hassle of having to enforce the co-ownership outlet right. ” For now, the condo doesn’t want to, but eventually we’ll get there! then we’ll see », explained a retired couple quite favorable to electric vehicles, their granddaughter even having a Citroën AMI. But they do not consider the purchase as long as they cannot recharge at home.

For a woman found in front of an Opel Mokka-e, it’s even more complicated: There should be terminals at least at all gas stations, with short refills. Every day, she parks on the street. Your city is still poorly equipped with terminals and they are far from home. No solution also in your workplace; it is therefore, at the moment, an order of inadmissibility for the electric.

In many cases, it is hybrid (non-rechargeable) vehicles that win the approval of these buyers. Some are also looking forward to the development of hydrogen as an alternative.

To finish the recharge chapter, a general fear is the exhaustion of the terminals available for long journeys, namely off highways: “ I don’t have the impression that things are going for the installation of terminals, neither on motorways nor on national roads.“. It’s also the holiday wait that particularly worries those who haven’t switched to electric yet. None, on the other hand, highlighted the cost of recharging as a potential obstacle.

battery pollution

Spontaneously, the issue of battery recycling, its composition, its origin (China) and pollution throughout the life cycle of electric vehicles was mentioned by many people we know.

Batteries that are not designed to be recycled are fine, but we don’t know what to do with them afterwards. Do we bury them too? » reacted the wife of a retired couple, before specifying: “ I’m all for ecology, but not anyway, it all seems so illogical. »

Nissan Leaf and its battery // Source: Raphaelle Baut for Numerama
Nissan Leaf and its battery // Source: Raphaelle Baut for Numerama

Some go much further, to the point of seeing this as political manipulation: We want at all costs to force ourselves to switch to electric as we were pushed to diesel “, reacted a commercial.

The issue of battery pollution remains, even today, one of the areas for improvement for all players in the sector, since it is spontaneously cited as a major obstacle for drivers. However, it is wrong to say that electric cars are just as polluting as thermal ones: their impact on reducing CO2 emissions into the atmosphere is very significant and is not questioned. On the other hand, the issue of battery recycling is important, and the industry has not yet found a sustainable solution.

“An electric vehicle cost at least 100 euros more per month. I can’t. »

The high price of electric vehicles is the last barrier that was mentioned by our interlocutors – even the owners of Zoé trams! “I’m on my second-hand Zoé, but for long-distance travel we’d love to be able to swap the other vehicle’s diesel for a Tesla, but it’s really not in our budgets.. »

Only Citroën’s atypical AMI is considered affordable, priced below €7,000. The display of vehicle prices on display in the reception hall dedicated to electric vehicles, conversely, causes some visitors to choke. “It’s too expensive even for rent another retiree told us. “I asked when choosing my last vehicle, but an electric one cost at least €100 more per month. I can’t.»

Renault Megane e-tech at the Lyon motor show // Source: Raphaelle Baut for Numerama
Renault Megane e-tech at the Lyon motor show // Source: Raphaelle Baut for Numerama

When electric car prices are the same as diesel prices, we can discuss again“, we also heard. But also : “Between €15,000 (for Dacia Spring) and €35,000, there are[quasiment pas de modèles de voitures électriques]“. The second statement is not entirely correct, as there are electric vehicles in this price range, but they are in fact rare. Manufacturers’ ranges have developed mainly in high-end models, not always within the reach of all buyers. not agree with the people we know.

Pedagogical efforts to make

For the past two years, auto shows have been paralyzed by the coronavirus pandemic. This issue will be a good barometer of buying trends. This return from the Lyon Motor Show, just a few months away from the Paris Motor Show, was an opportunity for manufacturers to show off new electrified products and even previews. In addition to the showcase offered by the fair, this car fair in Lyon particularly attracts potential buyers.

VW ID 5 previewed at the Lyon motor show // Source: Raphaelle Baut for Numerama
VW ID 5 previewed at the Lyon motor show // Source: Raphaelle Baut for Numerama

In less than two hours, some manufacturers had already signed some electric car order forms. Tesla’s booth is not empty, a sign that mindsets are slowly starting to change. If it is not always easy to find your way around the current offer, those who are undecided can take advantage of it to have a good overview of the vehicles available. Coming to the fair to buy a hybrid vehicle, a wheelchair visitor told us: “I’ll be electric when they dismantle the gas station pumps.»

If the hybrid seems to be the big winner in our panel discussions, the electric still seems to be making progress. That doesn’t stop us from always hearing some negative remarks:I don’t like the tram, it doesn’t make any noise”, “The full tram grills are weird”, “I don’t like their design”Where the classic: “Cars were better before. »

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