Renault is promising a sub-$22K electric car ­– can it deliver? 

Cheap, small, and made in Europe ­– Renault has hit the sweet spot with the latest announcement of its new electric city car, set to replace the popular yet quirky little Twingo e-Tech. Today the French automaker’s subsidiary Ampere released a few more details about its third upcoming affordable electric car, the Legend, which will be priced under €20,000, or less than $22,000. That is, if market realities don’t spoil all the fun.

A small electric city car from a brand that knows this genre well is great news, and it’s a quick response Citroën’s under €20,000 ë-C3. Ampere has three EVs coming out that should be under €30,000 ($32,550), including the Renault 4 and 5. The new Legacy is expected to come out in 2025, and takes the brand’s goal of making “electric cars accessible to all” even further. At under €20,000 before subsidies, this could be a game changer.

While we still don’t have details on size, it’ll be a wee thing. It’ll likely be smaller than the Renault 5, which is 3.92 meters (154.3 inches) long, and will probably be a slight upgrade in luxury terms from the Dacia Spring, the brand’s best-selling and cheapest EV.

Ampere is promising “best-in-class efficiency” with an energy consumption of 10 kilowatt-hours per 100 km, which is on par with small, light, efficient EVs. The Legend, according to a press release, will have 75% lower CO₂ emissions than the average European ICE car sold this year over its lifecycle, zero tailpipe CO₂ emissions, and lower raw materials consumption due to its compact size.

As we reported yesterday, the car will be built at the Revoz plant in Novo Mesto, Slovenia, where the Twingo is made, according to the sources who talked to Reuters. This fact alone separates it from the group’s Chinese-made Dacia Spring (and gives it an advantage in applying to strict EU incentive programs). 

Now for the buzzkill part. Of course it’s easy to get excited when automakers target low price points, but we’ve been disappointed before. Volkswagen, Renault, and Stellantis have all presented EVs at €20,000 in the past – but after a few years of development, reality sets in, bumping that price up to €25,000. The Renault 5 was originally pitched as starting as low as €20,000 – now it’s starting at €25,000. Still, the fact that Renault hasn’t abandoned this crucial market – the low-budget EV buyer – is a great sign, and hopefully Ampere will have more surprises in store.

Ampere will offer a total of seven models by 2031: the electric Mégane E-Tech, Scenic, R5 and R4, the Legend, and two other models to be announced. Of course, Ampere is hoping to gain some equal ground to Telsa and BYD, but this won’t be easy by any means. Today’s investor day event will hopefully drum up some funding, and its CEO Luca de Meo, the former head of the Renault Group, has valued the new EV business unit at up to €10 billion ($10.47 billion). The company is planning an IPO next year, and Nissan and Mitsubishi are both investing €600 and €200 million respectively. 

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