Why is it so expensive to buy an electric car?

With an equivalent finish and despite the deduction of the ecological bonus of € 5,000, a new electric car costs between 40 and 60% more than its petrol counterpart. An additional deterrent cost for many motorists, despite the considerable savings in use. But what are the origins of this price difference between an electric car and a thermal car?

Some electric cars at very low prices, such as the Dacia Spring and Renault Twingo ZE, have recently hit the market. Apart from these exceptions, the technology remains significantly more expensive than gasoline and diesel in most models. Between thermal and electrical, the additional cost is generally between € 8,000 and € 10,000. Yes the battery is the main culprit in this discrepancythis is not the only element to inflate prices.

Examples of price differences between thermal and electrical

Renault Clio

entry level

Renault Clio

finish equivalent to input electricity

Renault Zoe

entry level

Price catalog

(€ 5,000 bonus deducted for electricity)

€ 17,100

€ 19,900

€ 27,800

Price difference with respect to electricity

– 63%

– 40%

Peugeot 208

entry level

Peugeot 208

finish equivalent to input electricity

Peugeot e-208

entry level

Price catalog

(€ 5,000 bonus deducted for electricity)

€ 17,500

€ 19,200

€ 28,950

Price difference with respect to electricity

– 66%

– 56%

Hyundai Kona

equivalent initial level finish

to electric

Hyundai Kona electric 39 kWh

entry level

Hyundai Kona electric 64 kWh

entry level

Price catalog

(€ 5,000 bonus deducted for electricity)

€ 24,350

€ 36,400

€ 41,200

Price difference with respect to electricity

– 69% (64 kWh)

– 50% (39 kWh)

The absence of entrance finishes increases the price of the electric car

De many electric models are not offered in input finishes. So, the cheaper versions start with a mid-range finish that is already well-equipped, but more expensive. The additional cost amounts to a few hundred to a few thousand euros, for comfort equipment that is not essential. Aiming at an affluent clientele, some manufacturers consider it appropriate not to offer their electric models with an “economical” finish.

The battery, a significant cost in an electric car

That is the crux of the matter. Whether for a car, a stationary storage system, or an appliance, a the battery is expensive. Mainly imported from Asia and made up of a layer of materials at whimsical prices, manufacturers are struggling to control their cost. The evolution of the price of lithium carbonate is a clear example: it went from € 6,430 per tonne in January 2021 to more than € 45,000 in January 2022.

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This rise could put an end to the dramatic drop in battery prices according to AVERE, the national association for the development of electric mobility. From $ 684 in 2013, the average cost of a kilowatt-hour battery had crashed to $ 132 in 2021.

The production volume of electric cars is lower

Mankind rides far fewer electric cars than thermal models. In 2021, 1,016,990 new petrol and diesel vehicles were sold in France, compared to “only” 162,107 100% electric vehicles. A car made in very large quantities can be sold at a lower price than a model with a more confidential production. The Peugeot 208, for example, sold 88,013 thermal copies against 17,858 electric copies (Peugeot e-208) in France in 2021.

The diversity of the offer and the competition

If the offer has expanded in recent years, there are always blank pages in the catalog. The new models are generally large vehicles (SUVs, high-end sedans) and the economic segment of microurban cars is almost abandoned. Only three electric vehicles (except those without a license) now have a deductible bonus of less than € 20,000. These are the Dacia Spring (€ 14,290), the Renault Twingo ZE (€ 18,650) and the Volkswagen e-Up (€ 19,690). The Fiat 500 e will once again exceed the symbolic threshold when the ecological bonus (from 6,000 to 5,000 euros) planned for July 2022 is reduced. A low diversity that does not help to lower prices.

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Test Dacia Spring vs Renault Twingo ZE: what is the best electric city car?

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