It's a ray of sunshine in Renault's rather dark sky these days: its 100% electric city car, the ZOE, has been a hit since the start of the year. According to our information, it sold 48,000 units in the first seven months of the year, 65% more than in the same period of the previous year.
This performance places the firm at the Losange on the first place of the podium for electric models in Europe between January and July 2020, far ahead of number two Tesla, and its 33,000 Model 3 sold over the period. As for the great rival PSA, it has sold nearly 16,000 electric versions of its 208, marketed since the end of 2019. "This represents 14%", of sales of 208, we say at Peugeot.
The progression of the ZOE, sold for 32,000 euros with battery and before subsidies, is all the more remarkable since the coronavirus crisis, which caused the closure of factories and concessions for long weeks in Europe, led to a drop in Renault sales of 42% in the first half of the year on the Old Continent. "ZOE's sales fell between March and May compared to 2019, but they have rebounded since deconfinement, with growth rates above 100% in June and July", explains Yongho Shin, deputy commercial range manager at Renault.
A boom linked to a post-containment catching-up phenomenon, but also to the generous subsidies granted in certain European countries for the purchase of electric vehicles, in order to support the markets during the crisis. The bonus now reaches 7,000 euros in France for the purchase of a 100% electric car, and the aid can go up to 9,500 euros in Germany. “Under these conditions, it is cheaper to buy an electric car than a thermal car. However, the question of price is a real trigger for the purchase ”, Yongho Shin advances.
In fact, new orders for ZOE were multiplied by 9 in August in Germany. “Renault even offered additional reductions of 1,000 euros in the country, which allowed it to sell there over seven months almost as many ZOEs as the national manufacturer Volkswagen sold e-Golf”, notes Berlin analyst Matthias Schmidt. A small feat.
“National subsidies have benefited the smaller car segment, to which the”, notes, for his part, José Baghdad, associate consultant at PwC. In France, for example, the purchase bonus is halved for cars sold over 45,000 euros. This is the case of the Tesla Model 3, for example, rather sold from 49,000 euros in France.
Several months of waiting
All manufacturers have successfully pushed their battery-powered models since the start of the year, in order to meet European CO2 emissions targets, subject to fines for the first time this year. Gold "Renault has only one model to push for the moment, unlike its competitors", emphasizes Matthias Schmidt.
The Losange firm also benefits from its precedence in the battery market. Launched in 2012, the ZOE has long been alone in this niche. "Now, it has proven itself, which reassures customers", José Baghdad advances. "In addition, salespeople, long used to selling the ZOE, are better equipped than those of the competition to remove any apprehensions from potential prospects", he adds.
Renault also has the production capacities and stocks necessary to meet demand almost in real time. "For some competitors, however, you have to wait several months",continues the consultant.
Some experts feared the ZOE would get a little old with the launch of more modern competitors, like the e-208 launched in late 2019 or Volkswagen's ID3, expected to hit the roads this fall. Its interior was completely renewed in the fall of 2019, but its exterior “look” has hardly changed.
An unfounded fear for the moment. And Yongho Shin is confident for the rest of the year, given the new orders. “The market is showing strong growth. There will be some for everyone ", he assures. At the beginning of March, Renault's director of electric mobility, Gilles Normand, was counting on 100,000 ZOE sales in 2020.