Manufactured in Trnava, Slovakia, the Citroen New e-C3 compact hatchback features an affordable LFP battery. Its introduction aligns with increasing European apprehensions regarding competitively priced Chinese electric cars.
Pricing Details: Affordable Options
Citroen has unveiled its New e-C3 electric hatchback, priced below 25,000 euros, as European automakers brace for the rise of affordable Chinese EVs. The New e-C3 will be manufactured at the Stellantis factory in Trnava, Slovakia. It boasts a cost-effective 44-kilowatt-hour lithium-iron-phosphate battery, providing a 320 km range, meticulously designed to meet the cost target, according to Citroen executives.
Prices will commence at 23,300 euros, with an urban-focused variant featuring a 200 km range set to debut in early 2025 at a price of 19,990 euros. Deliveries for the New e-C3 are slated for the beginning of Q2 2024, and production starts in the first quarter, with pre-orders commencing on Wednesday.
Platform Details: Smart Car Foundation
Citroen plans to offer internal combustion versions of the car, named the New C3, particularly in regions with low EV market adoption. The New C3 is pivotal to Citroen’s ambition of achieving a 5 percent market share in Europe and annual sales of 1 million units, as outlined by CEO Thierry Koskas. “The C3 is a very, very important car. It’s 40 percent of what we sell,” he emphasized, stating that refreshing it and introducing an EV version can potentially boost their market share.
As of September, Citroen held a 3.8 percent share in the European market, based on data from the ACEA lobby group.
The New e-C3 is constructed on the Smart Car platform originally developed for emerging markets, including India, partly engineered by Tata Consulting as a modification of the CMP platform, initially developed by PSA Group and Dongfeng in the mid-2010s. The Smart Car platform has been adapted to accommodate a flat battery and was originally designed as a fully electric platform. Koskas explained, “It’s not overly complex in terms of technology, but it provides all the essentials for the B segment (small cars).”
Global Variations: Distinguishing the European New C3
Although an Indian version of the New C3 was introduced in 2022 with a fully electric powertrain from early 2023, the European New C3 differs in several ways, as Thierry Blanchard, Citroen’s B Segment (small cars) product manager, pointed out.
While the fundamental “morphology” remains consistent, European models showcase all-new body panels. Notably, they feature distinct front and rear-end treatments, an interior makeover, and larger wheels. Moreover, the European version adheres to stringent European crash and safety standards and incorporates a larger battery and a different electric motor.
The European models come equipped with a 44-kilowatt-hour battery sourced from SVolt in China, along with an electric motor designed and manufactured through a partnership with Nidec in Tremery, France. Charging efficiency is impressive, with the ability to go from 20 to 80 percent charge in just 25 minutes.
Key Price Point:
The sub-25,000 euro price tag is a pivotal threshold for encouraging the widespread adoption of electric vehicles in Europe. This pricing is also essential for the feasibility of producing mass-market electric vehicles within the continent. The urgency is amplified by the 2035 EU regulation, which mandates the restriction of new car sales to zero-emission models.
Presently, electric vehicle penetration in Western Europe stands at approximately 15 percent, representing the lion’s share of the market, with some Eastern and Southern European countries lagging behind due to lower income levels, resulting in EV market shares in the low to mid-single digits.
The Dacia Spring minicar, Europe’s most budget-friendly electric vehicle, begins at 20,800 euros in France. Notably, it is imported from China.
Geopolitical Challenges: Chinese Automakers and European Competition
The capability of Chinese automakers to domestically manufacture vehicles, particularly electric ones, at a lower cost than in Europe has evolved into a politically charged matter. The European Union’s competition authorities have initiated an inquiry into state support provided to Chinese automakers. Furthermore, France has introduced a proposal linking electric vehicle incentives to carbon-neutral manufacturing, a move widely perceived as targeting cars produced in China, a nation heavily reliant on coal-fired power generation.
Citroen Strategic Vision: Countering the Chinese EV Onslaught
Thierry Koskas emphasized Citroen’s need to confront the surge of Chinese electric vehicles without depending on incentives. He anticipates that by 2030, most countries will have phased out such incentives. “We need to compete on equal footing, utilizing cost-efficiency and technological prowess,” he asserted.
Citroen New e-C3: A Unique Proposition
According to Blanchard, the New e-C3 sets itself apart with its combination of range, price, and an extensive array of standard features. These include a backup camera, Citroen’s hydraulic damper suspension, electric windows, and an induction charger for smartphones. “There are no other models in this price range offering this level of range,” he affirmed. Although specific sales targets were not disclosed, the existing C3 has been a top performer for Citroen since its 2016 debut, ranking sixth in the small car segment with over 88,000 sales through August, as reported by Dataforce.
Trim-Level Simplification: Enhancing Online Sales
Citroen has streamlined the New C3’s trim levels from five to three (You, Plus, and Max), partly to facilitate online sales. Each trim level will carry an additional cost of 1,100 euros, ensuring that even the most feature-rich New e-C3 remains below the 30,000 euro mark.
Internal Combustion Variants: Versatility in Powertrains
While prices for internal combustion engine versions were not disclosed, Blanchard revealed plans for both 48-volt mild hybrid and non-hybrid powertrains. Remarkably, these variants won’t compromise interior space in comparison to the electric models. The present C3, for reference, starts at approximately 16,500 euros.