Friday, October 25, 2013

EV Business Case Q3 - 2013

Tesla is banking on european waiting lists

Waiting Lists Edition

With several waiting lists around the world, mounting to several thousand reservations, Tesla has its hands full to satisfy all of them, right now Europe's waiting lists are being delivered, to be followed early next year by Asia and left-hand drive countries, so only in the next Spring on we'll see if Tesla sales isn't just a early adopter thing and can keep growing without the need of reservation lists.

Volvo also had a unexpected success with the Volvo V60 Plug-In, especially in the Netherlands, where in a certain moment it had a thousands waiting list, now being delivered, and now responsible for a surprising #1 spot there. A promising start for the swedish automaker.

Speaking of Netherlands, Mitsubishi has allegedly a 8.000 waiting list in the Low Countries and more than 10.000 reservations of the Outlander Plug-In in Europe, an already enormous number that still has the thousands of japanese reservations left out. Mitsu will need several months to satisfy all these reservations, so it's no surprise that  the US landing of the japanese SUV was postponed several months, they just don't produce enough cars to satisfy all this demand.

BMW i3 "Angry Puppy" look

BMW - When the bavarian automaker announced the "i" sub-brand, with the advanced carbon fibre platform and two dedicated plug-ins, i feared they would be sold with speculative prices to a selected few, but to my surprise, the prices aren't that high (For a premium plug-in, at least), with the i3 starting at some 40.000$ and the i8 at 135.000$. Too bad that the i3 side profile was ruined...But still, BMW conservative sales goals should be surpassed and next year some 15.000 "i's" might be zooming down the streets, so their profitability should be a slam dunk.

Ford - After the first baby steps (Focus Electric), then came the Energi brothers to put the american learning to walk and now, with the first steps in Europe, it's preparing itself to run along Renault, Toyota or Mitsubishi. Battery costs must be down and it won't be long for an extensive price cut (2014 models?). As for the second generation of batteries, a tip: Make them smaller, so it won't ruin trunk space...

Renault - Two Words for their bad sales moment: Batteries and Rentals. The first bad option was delivering cars without the battery ownership option, cutting off sales, aggravated by the high rental/low mileage ratio. The second bad option has to do with the fact that the french manufacturer concentrated its focus just in Europe, almost completely ignoring the rest of the world, where 3 (USA, Japan and China) out the 4 largest EV markets are...And Renault's presence in ev-friendly scandinavian countries can only be classified as Marginal...


  1. Regarding Renault, I think that it would be a bad idea to expand into the already busy American EV market as Renault does not currently have any presence in the country or produce vehicles that would be appealing to that market. I also think that while releasing EVs in the Chinese and Japanese markets may produce some good results, it would be difficult and unlikely. Rebadging the Twizy as a Nissan in Japan, for example, is a much better option I believe. One example of Renault planning on releasing EVs outside of Europe was Australia, which was aborted due to poor market response and the failure of Better Place, which in itself was a bad decision. Finally, Renault does have some EV success in Hong Kong, and has plans to release EVs in South Korea under the Renault Samsung brand.

  2. I agree on Renault, they should have used the EV opportunity to re-launch in the US as a pure EV player, starting with California, and thus erase the memory there of their failed LeCar. It's just incomprehensible that they try to sell electric cars in crisis-hit Italy and Spain (and organised a launch in poor Portugal!) but are nowhere to be seen in Norway, Australia, China, Japan...

    The Renault Zoe is a better car than the Nissan Leaf in every possible way (autonomy, style, price) and yet the Leaf sells more almost everywhere: get the hint, Renault Makerting people! The rental system should only be an option, and should be priced below the average amount of filling a car tank with petrol, 50-60 euros a month, not 80 euros, to really look attractive. And for god's sake, just release this classic plug EVSE cable already, why does it take so long!

  3. It looks like Renault's EV strategy is a controversial matter, i think that the french manufacturer should have copied the Nissan Leaf roadbook instead of going on a different strategy, it should have gone with global distribution and giving the consumers option between battery rental or ownership, not forgetting the EVSE cable, a real no brainer.

    If sales in Japan as Renault would be hard to get, the NMC re-badging of the Renault Twizy should have happened months ago and without any hesitations.

    EV's in China are still in their infancy, but the growth potential is enormous and the dodgy Fluence ZE is already leader in Hong Kong, so...Renault should question itself if it wants to lead the foreign EV wave coming next year (Tesla, rebadged Leaf, BMW i3, Hyundai, etc), or just stay on the sidewalk while others get the best seats for the show.

    As for the US, there's a niche for small, quirky, euro-centric cars (Stand up, MINI and FIAT!) there, so it wouldn't be that much difficult to market Renault as a 100% EV euro-flavored brand in some markets (California comes to mind), the lovely Zoe would be an ideal car for that, but even the Twizy and the Kangoo ZE could work, if correctly marketed, just look at some of Scion products.

    The major fails in Renault's EV strategy has to do more with Product Marketing and Placement/Distribution than has to do with Engineering, as it's the case with the Renault Zoe, a gem to drive with good looks as a bonus, but in September it was only #5 in Europe and #10 worldwide.

    Something that Carlos Ghosn should reflect and think about.