The electric car is completely changing the industry. In recent days we have seen how France takes protectionist positions to try to make things difficult for China or, at least, attract these manufacturers to its soil. The United States has long since implemented its Inflation Reduction Act, with the same objective.
But the changes in the market go much further. The electric car has also raised market prices and has challenged manufacturers to continue manufacturing vehicles with a minimum margin of profitability that, at the same time, make their vehicles attractive to potential buyers.
It has also altered our way of understand a trip. With vehicles that mostly stay below 400 actual kilometers of autonomy, a minimum of planning is necessary before leaving on a trip. Especially if we don’t want to run the risk of everything going wrong along the way.
And among these pillars that the electric car has directly affected, small vehicles are in the spotlight. Right now it is positioned as a species that is at risk of disappearing. And it would be a shame, because there is someone who has a lot to say: the electric GTI.
The difficulties of the small electric car
At the moment, the number of small electric cars that have been put on the market is almost testimonial. Manufacturers have, for the moment, two premises to meet in their launches: a price and attractive autonomy. And the one and the other seem to be antagonistic.
We have the best example in the Volkswagen ID2.all and the messages that the manufacturer is launching. The car has been sold will cost less than 25.000 euros but it will be necessary to see if, at its launch, this figure is maintained. And if so, it is likely that it will simply become a hook to sell its more affordable versions. Below 6% profit margin, Volkswagen is not even interested in selling an electric car.
It is what they have claimed to question the future of the combustion Volkswagen Polo. Nor will Ford renew the Fiesta or the Focus. The anti-pollution measures of the European Union are putting smaller vehicles that need to be electrified quickly and abundantly against the ropes.
And while the chances of selling a small electric car for less than €25,000 seem limited to Chinese manufacturers, with Europeans signaling that they are willing to shed volume in favor of selling higher-priced vehicles, it’s hard to believe that With increased production (and lower production costs), traditional manufacturers let escape the small electric vehicle market.
It is likely, however, that this type of car is reserved for the urban environment and becomes the second car in a home. In markets such as Spain, with lower salaries than in northern Europe, the Netherlands, Germany or France, this market distribution is less common, which is why “cars for everything” have always been well received, those vehicles that For little money they could take us anywhere (with more or less discomfort). It is not surprising that cars like the Seat Ibiza, the Citroën C3 or the Opel Corsa succeeded. Or the Seat León, the Renault Mégane and the Volkswagen Polo, stretching the budget.
But what in Spain? not usual It does not mean that it does not exist in other markets. It is precisely the fit that the Mazda MX-30 has had, whose 200 kilometers of autonomy were clearly insufficient for how the Spanish market understands the automobile, where we want any car, no matter how small, to be able to perform the functions of a utility vehicle for us. bigger size.
A high priced floor
That the electric car raises the price floor to which we were accustomed is a possibility that must be kept in mind. In fact, at Xataka we have analyzed the price of “cheap” electric cars that are sold in our country.
Of the 22 cars that are sold below 40,000 euros, only eight are positioned below 34.691 euros What do these two dozen cars cost on average?
With these prices, justifying small electric cars but on a whim is easier. It’s where the electric GTI stands a chance. A small electric car designed as fun, that sells for a higher price than its brothers and that, at the same time, delivers a large profit margin can be easier if the minimum price to pay is already high. .
It is difficult to think that manufacturers completely abandon the most performance (and profitable) versions of their range
These fancy cars they have always worked well. We have the best example in Luca de Meo, CEO of Renault who has followed the strategy of creating sports and aspirational firms wherever he has gone. And, so far, it has worked for him.
In the absence of knowing how Alpine will behave, Abarth has always thrown good numbers at Fiat, since the investment was small and the economic return was very high. The enormous growth of Cupra and the commitment against Seat by the Volkswagen Group is the clearest case. It’s not just that Cupra is selling cars at a high price, it’s also selling a very significant volume and at the moment it doesn’t seem to have a ceiling.
Now it will be Alpine that will offer this alternative at Renault. The first step was to rescue the Alpine A110, to attract the most enthusiastic. The following has been a controversial move among the most purist fans, with the name change from Renault Sports Cars to adopt the name of Alpine. However, the brand’s own managers assured us that walking its name with each Formula 1 Grand Prix is a very profitable investment to publicize the firm.
And in this move, Alpine has decided to unceremoniously embrace the electric car. Assuring Renault that it will only produce electric cars from 2030, the brand has turned its plans around to become the most fun and passionate alternative to the diamond firm. Its latest prototype, the Alpine A290_β, is an electric and hyper-vitaminated Renault 5 that has raised a lot of expectations.
The future on your part
Personally, I have a soft spot for small sports cars. I have rarely enjoyed it as much as when I have been able to hold an Abarth 595 Competizione in my hands. But, in addition, I have no doubt that it is the market where the electric sports car has the most to gain.
If something surprises a person when they get into an electric car for the first time, it is the immediate response to hitting the accelerator and how fast the odometer can go up with your foot fully depressed. Until now, yes, the vehicles with the highest performance are also usually very heavy cars, whose sensations when cornering are usually weighed down by being overweight.
Anyone who has taken an electric Smart will be able to confirm that the sensations are similar to those of a kart. A small, electric sports car can convince many who today consider themselves completely reluctant to give it a chance to see its immediate reactions, instant turns and the speed with which it can move the masses from one place to another.
No, it will not have the sound on its part but, in exchange, the driver will gain a fast cornering, the possibility of linking turns at a dizzying pace and some manufacturers already promise that it will be possible to play even with manual gearboxes. Whether or not this idea comes to fruition, the truth is that regenerative braking is already beginning to become a perfect alternative for those who want to feel the retention in the seat and speed up the braking to the maximum.
To all of the above we must add that what is currently on the market still has much room for improvement. It is to be expected that the batteries will continue to increase their energy densities, which will not only allow greater autonomy, but also the possibility of assuming greater stress from the accelerator pedal.
Furthermore, if all goes according to plan, the charging infrastructure should also increase significantly in the coming years. This will make it possible to have a useful car on a day-to-day basis and enjoy climbs and curved sections that should have a plug nearby to get the batteries ready and start the return home or reconnaissance of a new section.
Yes, the small electric car is in trouble but it is highly probable that the brands will not leave aside the most performance versions, especially if the economic investment is small and the economic return is great. It is something on which the market is basing itself and, perhaps, the only way to sustain a segment where every day fewer potential customers will have access and where those who understand vehicles of this size as purely urban or fancy cars remain, but useful on a day to day basis.
In Xataka | The success of the electric car today is due to something counterintuitive: batteries with less autonomy
Foto | Alpine