In Europe’s race to compete with cheaper Chinese electric vehicles, Stellantis NV is making a move.
(Bloomberg) — In Europe’s race to compete with cheaper Chinese electric vehicles, Stellantis NV is making a move.
The carmaker’s Citroën brand will start taking reservations this week for its new electric ë-C3 starting at €23,300 ($24,549) — the least expensive EV produced in Europe. The first deliveries are expected in the second quarter of next year.
“It’s an answer to the Chinese offensive,” said Citroën Chief Executive Officer Thierry Koskas. “We have to be able to fight on their same battleground, in particular on the costs front.”
Europe’s biggest mass-market carmakers have struggled to produce more affordable EVs, leaving an opening for Chinese brands such as BYD, Nio and MG to gain customers on the continent, where inflation has been eating into spending. The threat of Chinese competition has prompted the European Commission to launch a probe into Beijing’s subsidies for its EV makers, a move that could have serious repurcussions for the industry if tariffs between the two markets escalate.
In addition to competing with the Chinese brands, the ë-C3 could help Stellantis take on other European mass-market EV producers such as Volkswagen AG and Renault SA. Volkswagen, which said last week that third-quarter EV orders fell short of its targets, has been forced to lay off temporary workers and cut shifts at its German factories in recent weeks.
Meanwhile, French rival Renault has aimed to list its EV business, Ampere, as a way to reduce costs by as much as 40% in its next generation of vehicles, though it has delayed the plan until next year amid lagging demand for its Megane E-Tech crossover, Tesla Inc. price cuts and unfavorable market conditions. Renault has for years marketed its Dacia Spring as Europe’s most affordable EV, which starts at €20,800 in France.
While Renault’s Dacia Spring is built in China’s Hubei province, Citroën’s ë-C3 is manufactured in the Stellantis plant in Trnava, Slovakia — making it the least expensive EV produced in the region. To keep costs low, there was “no miracle recipe,” Koskas said. The ë-C3 is built on a Smart-car platform, which was designed to be electric from the start.
The vehicle, which has a range of 320 kilometers (199 miles), will also be eligible for the €100-a-month EV leasing plan promised by French President Emmanuel Macron, Koskas said.
“There’s no way to widen the number of clients interested in EVs if we don’t make them affordable,” Koskas said. The brand aims to introduce cheaper version of the ë-C3 priced at €19,990 starting in 2025, he added.
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