“Renault is taking over as the manufacturer of cars for the people”

Mike Rutherford thinks Renault is doing more than any other manufacturer when it comes to making affordable electric cars

Opinion - Renault Twingo

Tuesday 7 November, 2023: the Government barks up the wrong tree by trying to answer the question that desperately few real-world motorists are asking. You know, the one about when inevitably expensive driverless cars we don’t want or need will be legal and insurable on UK roads, thereby putting countless hard-working, tax-paying professional drivers out of work and on the dole. Not clever.   

A week later: the more clued-up, non-political ‘establishment’ did the opposite by asking – and to some extent answering – several of the more immediate concerns we have about the prices of, and future for, vehicles that run solely on electricity.

“EV demand in Europe to slow as customers await affordable electric cars,” warned the highly respected Reuters news agency. On the front page of the always- reliable Financial Times was the headline, “Electric car prices slashed after sales run out of juice.”

Even HSBC got in on the act by showing graphics clearly illustrating the current dramatic decline in the rates of EV sales growth across Europe and the United States. Of more immediate interest to buyers in Britain, the bank reckoned that average discounts on new electric cars in UK showrooms jumped from 6.5 per cent in August to 11.1 per cent last month.

The response from the Renault Group was instant and impeccably timed – or purely but deliciously coincidental. The Paris-based empire – led by Italian-born CEO Luca De Meo, ably assisted by his highly cost-effective factories in Eastern Europe, China and beyond – is well aware that the global EV industry’s business model (comprising generally excessive official retail prices resulting in sharply decelerating demand) ain’t working. Now there’s a surprise.

So the Group is now doing and saying more than any other large car maker about what’s broken. It already produces the least expensive pure EV in mainland Europe – the Dacia Spring. When it arrives in the UK in 2024, this urban runabout could start at under £20k.

And the good news continues after De Meo said last week that by 2026 he’ll bring back the Twingo – in pure-electric guise – below the psychologically important 20,000-Euro (£17,000) barrier. For those unable or unwilling to buy outright, the word is that this proper, small, pure-electric car will be available from as little as 100 Euros (£87) a month in some markets with incentives for EVs. By comparison, Citroen UK currently markets the Ami quadricycle from £99 a month (after a deposit of £1,337). Incidentally, Renault’s monthly figure of 100 Euros/£87 for the 2026 Twingo translates into precisely £20 a week.

Pay a bit more and you’ll get more from other imminent, temptingly priced, all-new Renaults, including the intriguing 4 and 5. Maybe a small Alpine or Dacia, or a product from the lesser-known Mobilize brand will be more up your street.

Regardless, at a time when Volkswagen has depressingly decided to ditch its entire entry-level up! range, Luca De Meo’s Renault Group is perfectly positioning itself to take over as the manufacturer of the car – or cars – for the people.

Do you agree with Mike? Let us know in the comments section below...

Chief columnist

Mike was one of the founding fathers of Auto Express in 1988. He's been motoring editor on four tabloid newspapers - London Evening News, The Sun, News of the World & Daily Mirror. He was also a weekly columnist on the Daily Telegraph, The Independent and The Sunday Times. 

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