the right time to switch to the electric car?

The private vehicle market is changing. At a time of fuel shortages and rising gasoline prices, is the electric vehicle a good option for drivers? An economist sheds light on the matter.

The Auto Show is currently being held in Paris. It honors vehicles considered cleaner, such as hybrid or electric cars. With fuel shortages and rising gasoline prices, more and more drivers are wondering about investing in an electric vehicle. Flavien Neuvy, economist, director of the Cetelem Automobile Observatory, noted: “ Generally speaking, when we see a rise in fuel prices, which has been going on for several months, people wonder how they can do otherwise. Inevitably, this arouses curiosity about the electric car. Then there is an element that counterbalances this, which is the increase in the price of electricity. At the same time, electricity prices tend to rise. People thinking about buying an electric car are afraid of rising electricity prices and wonder if it’s really a good deal. In this current energy crisis, everyone is affected “.

In 2035, it will be banned to sell new thermal cars in Europe. For now, sales of electric vehicles are still weak in the Old Continent, with the exception of Norway. It seems difficult to convince drivers to go all-electric when prices are still high. Flavien Neuvy explains: “ Today, the first models cost around 22,000 euros. The average price is between 35 and 40,000 euros. The electric car is much more expensive than its thermal equivalent, despite public aid. There are also still many doubts about autonomy and charging stations. Sales are increasing as manufacturers offer new models. Those who bought an electric car are quite happy. There is good word of mouth. But there is still a glass ceiling. We will have to wait a few more years before we see electric car sales representing a majority share of the market. “. Interviewed on franceinfo on Tuesday, October 18, Carlos Tavarez, CEO of Stellantis, predicted that electric cars would be cheaper than thermal cars in 2026. Flavien Neuvy reacts: “ I don’t know what it’s based on. There is a question about the price of electric vehicles because, as global demand for lithium, cobalt and nickel will explode, we don’t know what the price of these ores will be in a few years. Price predictions are difficult. There is a risk that they are high and therefore inaccessible to many “.

The President of the Republic announced the reinforcement of the ecological bonus for electric cars, with a purchase bonus of 7,000 euros for the most modest families. For the director of the Cetelem Automobile Observatory, it is not this device that will accelerate: “ This bonus already existed. It was at 6,000 euros and it was already at 7,000 euros a year ago. Increases for part of the population. But that is not what will fundamentally change the situation. It’s better than nothing “. Flavien Neuvy details what tomorrow’s mobility can look like: “ We will witness a France at two speeds. There will be the mobility of the metropolises and the mobility of peri-urban and rural areas. In metropolitan areas, car share will decline in favor of public transport, active mobility such as bicycles. There is a population density that makes this possible. In peri-urban and rural areas, the private car will remain the preferred mode of transport for the French for a long time to come. 40% of them live in cities with less than 20,000 inhabitants. For everyone who lives in these cities, it is the car that allows them to go shopping, go to work, take their children to school. “.

The density of charging points for electric vehicles is still a problem in France.

Flavien Neuvy highlights: “ The issue of charging stations is still an issue. But it is slowly being resolved. There are 75,000 terminals in the public space. This is an increasing number. It’s more of a psychological issue than anything else, because refills are done at home or at work. Peri-urban areas will be less affected by the charging point problem. They have a parking lot or a garage. They get there more easily than those who live in large centers, who usually park on the street. They don’t have a charging station next door. When you have a garage or a dedicated parking space, you can easily place a terminal “. The economist paints a typical picture of the French purchaser of an electric vehicle: “ Anyone who buys an electric vehicle today is someone who has money, he is among the 10% of French people who have the most money. He is quite old, he is over 55 years old. Instead, he lives in a suburban area, a place where he can easily park his car. But the electric car is often the second vehicle in the house. “.

Another obstacle to purchasing electric vehicles for many: the weakness of the second-hand market. Flavien Neuvy explains: “ The second-hand electrical market is in its infancy because the new market is just getting started. Stay low. We have to wait a few more years to have a well-structured market “. The car fleet in France is estimated at 40 million vehicles, including 620,000 electric vehicles, or just 1.5% of the vehicle fleet. A report by the ADEME (ecological transition agency) published in October 2022, makes a balance of the massive electrification of vehicles.”About 174,000 100% electric light vehicles were sold in 2021 against 28,300 in 2016, that is, a multiplication of sales in more than 6 in 5 years, representing today a market share of almost 12%“, says this report.

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