The stock price of Tesla continues to surge, and the company has obtained profit for 4 consecutive quarters, which is attributed to the global popularity of Model 3, the best-selling vehicle of the manufacturer. However, the throne of best-selling electric vehicle in Europe may be stripped away by French automotive manufacturer Renault, who was globally regarded as the underdog.
It is not surprising that Europeans love their European vehicles, though when it comes to electric vehicles, Tesla Model 3 has been raging in the European automotive market over the past two years. However, the sales of Model 3 have finally been surpassed by a European electric vehicle in 2020, not by the vehicles of the Volkswagen Group, but rather the small electric vehicle Zoe from French brand Renault that was once on the verge of collapsing.
Zoe had been catching up closely behind Model 3 since 2019 when the latter enjoyed its popularity in Europe. Tesla managed to sell approximately 32,300 units of Model 3 in Europe amidst the deteriorated global automotive market under the impact from the COVID-19 pandemic during 2020, and Renault’s Zoe has sold 37,540 units surprisingly, which surpassed that of Tesla, even if the latter incorporates the sales of Model S/X that are a little more than 4,000 units.
Zoe is priced at roughly EU€32,000 (approx. TWD$1.1 million), which has a maximum subsidy of EU€7,000 in France, and EU€9,000 in Germany, making it a rather affordable vehicle, and the price difference is the main differentiation between Zoe and the Model 3’s price at EU€49,000 in France.
Numerous car owners hoped for a model that is “cheaper, somewhat identical in driving range, and adequate in performance”, which is exactly how Zoe is positioned. A battery electric hatchback costing a little more than TWD$1 million that has nearly 400km of driving range, with 10 seconds acceleration time from 0 to 100km/h, and measures at merely 4m in length, along with a trunk space that is almost 350L, will probably be a nice alternative to Tesla.
▲ The internal compartment of Zoe is adopted with a traditional configuration, where the 10 inch touch display with physical buttons facilitates easy operation for the driver.
However, looking at the past experience of Leaf for instance, the prices for electric vehicles after they were imported to Taiwan had all been exorbitant; additionally, the charging equipment that is yet to be popularized in Taiwan will result in Zoe being a convenient “second car”, which will not create enough attraction for both the high-end and middle-class consumers.
The success of Zoe in 2020 may be the peak of its lifespan. As the ID.3 of Volkswagen is on the verge of launching in Europe, the latter’s price tag of less than EU€40,000 comprises similar performance level as Model 3, and will be suppressing the market of Zoe, whereas the electric version of Peugeot 208 with French ancestry will also snatch away the nimbus of Renault’s lineage. With the imminent production of Gigafactory Berlin-Brandenburg, the prices for Tesla vehicles in Europe may also reduce further.
In addition to external factors, Renault is also prone to serious internal problems. Zoe was the only highlight of the brand over the past year, though the vehicle had been planned as a concept car by former CEO Carlos Ghosn, who went on a great escape in Japan, way back in 2009, and while the entire Renault-Nissan Alliance struggles to think of the next step, competitors have been closing in. Aside from everything else, the arrangement problem of Renault is evidently seen from the fact that its best-selling model Zoe in Europe is completely vanished in other markets.
(Photo source: Renault)