Renault and Dana executives shared different views on how long government subsidies will be needed to drive demand for electric vehicles during the latest Automotive News Europe Congress Conversations.
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Jean-Paul Drai, Renault Group's product development director for EVs, told the panel that the automaker has two affordable models coming that he believes customers will be able to purchase without government subsidies. They are the Renault Twingo Z.E. full-electric minicar due later this year and the first battery-driven model from budget brand Dacia, the Spring small crossover, that is scheduled to arrive next year.
"With these affordable vehicles we believe we will support a growing market of EVs," Drai said.
Seth Metzger, senior vice president of electrification at Dana, said that the total cost of ownership of a EV would continue to be higher than a comparable model with an internal combustion engine for some time. Therefore, he believes incentives will be needed to help promote the sale of EVs until beyond 2030.
Michael Hajesch, CEO of EV charging infrastructure provider Ionity, said that while total cost of ownership (TCO) is a key factor when deciding whether to purchase an EV, it's not the only factor.
"Customers get a full packages of services such as home charging and vehicle-to-grind functionality, which can provide them with an additional revenue opportunity," Hajesch said.
Automakers and utility providers are working to allow a customer's EV to provide electricity back to the grid during peak usage times from the car's battery while on a home charger. The car's battery would be replenished during low usage times when the cost of energy is less expensive, meaning the car owner has the potential to make money.
The panelists also had differing views on what body style was best suited for an EV.
Drai said Renault's vision is a crossover with a reduced height, which the automaker showcased earlier this year with the Morphoz concept. The car is underpinned by the Renault-Nissan alliance’s CMF-EV electric vehicle platform, which Drai said was versatile enough to be used for a bigger, higher-riding SUV.
Dana's Metzger said the best body types for battery-driven models are city cars and light commercial vans. Although he understands why automakers would be eyeing SUVs and crossovers for the powertrain.
"I’m sure the large manufacturers are looking at them because of their higher acquisition prices and the high level of interest [they generate] from consumers," he said. "Unfortunately, I don’t see those as being the optimum type of architecture for electrification."