Renault delivered quite the shock in its sales figures this week to anyone who had only paid attention to Tesla's stock chart.
The French automaker’s all-electric Zoe out-muscled the Model 3 as Europe’s best-selling full-electric vehicle in the first half.
The subcompact hatchback, which starts at 32,000 euros ($37,000), has come a long way from a day in 2009 when Carlos Ghosn, then the head of Renault, first unveiled a concept version at the Frankfurt auto show. It was touted as the ideal second car for families and the dawn of the automaker's shift toward clean cars that would not add to climate change.
The Zoe started plodding along three years later. A couple of reboots and redesigns slowly raised its profile with consumers. Then, within the past year, something clicked.
The Zoe's first-half sales growth was close to 50 percent to 37,540 units during the first six month, making it Europe's best-selling EV, Renault said in a news release on Monday. The EV reached a record level of orders in June with nearly 11,000 orders.
The four-door hatchback bested Tesla’s Model 3, Volkswagen’s electric version of the Golf and the Nissan Leaf.
“It’s basically the same car that’s been around for a long time,” albeit with some improvements in range, technology and design, said Felipe Munoz, an analyst at auto industry research firm Jato Dynamics. “So the latest success is a bit surprising.”
It’s not quite as astonishing when considering the incentives now available to car buyers who are willing to go electric in France and Germany. The French government is offering as much as 7,000 euros toward the purchase of an electric car, and a cash-for-clunkers program can add another 5,000 euros in subsidies. Germany is offering incentives of as much as 9,000 euros per vehicle.