This year is a critical year for EVs in Europe, where automakers are struggling to meet more onerous CO2 regulations. So we’re keeping an eye open for electric-car introductions at the 2020 Geneva Motor Show, which opens for media on March 3.
The EVs at Geneva give a sneak preview of what’s coming to European roadways. However, so far, we’re only seeing four noteworthy pure-EV introductions – including the return of the Fiat 500e and Europe’s first Chinese EV on the market.
Next-gen Fiat 500e
The new Fiat 500e debuts at this year’s Geneva Motor Show. The new electric 500 is expected to sit on a new, bespoke electric-car platform, which could be shared with other small Fiat EVs. Specifications will be revealed at the show, but reports indicate that it will have a range of about 125 miles.
There are spy shots on the web showing a re-worked dashboard with a larger infotainment screen and rotary gear selector.
While most Americans aren’t fans of small urban runabouts, Europeans will need them to meet regulations. The new Fiat 500e will compete with the likes of the Honda E, which debuted last year in Geneva.
We won’t get these cute, low-range EVs in the US. But, as we argued a few weeks ago, the 500e signals the beginning of new FCA EV efforts. In 2019, Fiat said it would invest nearly $800 million on the new 500e, including a new production line in Mirafiori, Italy. Fiat will make 80,000 units a year of the 500e, starting in the second quarter of 2020.
Fiat chief Olivier Francois, who admitted that the new 500e was partly motivated by CO2 regulations, told Autocar:
“It is a big statement, starting our electric path with the 500. We are doing it with that car for reasons of pricing. It is clear that we cannot sell an electric 500 for the same entry price of today’s 500, but what’s clear is that more than half of our 500 customers today do not buy entry-level models. In fact, for them, a 24,000 euro price is normal today.”
“If you look at our electric competition, they are priced around 32,000 euros. The leap then from 24,000 to 32,000 is not so much, especially if you factor in government grants for electric vehicles.”
In Geneva, FCA is also expected to show an all-electric version of the Maserati Alfieri. That model was first teased in 2014.
Aiways, the Chinese automaker, will show what could be the first made-in-China EV in Europe. The company will reveal the production version of its U5 SUV, which is expected to go on sale in April. It’s only available in a lease, at 400 euros ($433) a month. That could equate to a purchase price in the low $30,000s.
Alexander Klose, Aiways’s overseas director, told Autocar that the U5 will compete with EVs from Audi and Mercedes, but at half the price. The U5 is about the size of an Audi Q5.
The U5 will use a 65-kWh battery pack to deliver 313 miles of range, according to the NEDC cycle. Its powertrain is a modest 190 horsepower. Production volume will be low at first – about 2,000 examples – but executives said they would ramp up to 50,000 units in 2021.
Aiways will also show a concept version of its next EV, the U6 ion.
Renault Twingo ZE
The 52-kWh Renault Zoe is one of Europe’s most popular EVs. In Geneva, Renault will show its new electric stablemate, the downsized and short-range Twingo city car. The A-segment car was not expected until 2022, but Renault reportedly moved up its introduction to this year.
The combustion Twingo was first introduced in 1992. Look for the ZE (or Zero Emissions) on the badge to denote the electric version. Media sources indicate that it will share the same platform as the 17.6-kWh Smart EQ ForFour. The range could be around 90 miles – which is not much, but still consistent with Europe’s class of electric city cars. Power is tepid at about 80 horsepower.
The specs are not impressive, but hopefully, the Twingo ZE will be priced to sell.
Production version of Skoda Enyaq
As we posted yesterday, Skoda, the Czech subsidiary owned by Volkswagen, dubbed its first new purpose-built EV as “Enyaq.” It will use the Volkswagen Group’s MEB platform, which also underpins the ID Crozz electric SUV that goes on sale in the US later this year.
Skoda previewed the Enyaq with the Vision iV concept unveiled at last year’s Geneva show. Now it returns in production form.
It’s powered by twin electric motors outputting 302 horsepower with a WLTP-estimated range of 310 miles from an 83-kWh battery pack. Those specs match the VW ID Crozz.
Skoda is expected to offer the Enyaq with three battery-pack sizes. And there will be two body styles, starting with a relatively boxy and practical SUV. That variant goes on sale in Europe later this year, followed by the coupe in 2021.
When the Enyaq arrives, it will compete in Europe with its MEB-platform sibling, the Volkswagen ID 3 hatchback. Skoda plans to produce five electric models across different segments by 2025, starting with the Enyaq.
In addition to the four models described in this post, there will be new plug-in hybrids, notably from Mercedes-Benz, and a smattering of exotic electric supercars and mobility concepts.
Perhaps the full list of EVs at the 2020 Geneva show has not yet been revealed. But so far, it looks like last year’s show – with debuts of the Audi Q4 E-tron, Honda E, and Kia Imagine – had a slightly more impressive electric lineup.
That said, news that FCA (now set to merge with PSA) is introducing a new electric platform is a positive sign. And the arrival of the first Chinese EV to Europe is a bellwether for their appearance in the US.
Still, the Geneva previews look disappointing, considering the urgent need for zero-emission cars in the EU.
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