The European Union has voted: from 2035, the sale of thermal cars (total or hybrid) will be prohibited in Europe. A 100% electric future is therefore looming, unless the review clause planned for 2026 changes the situation.
Even if I admit that the electric car is not the magic solution, I was still considering at the beginning of the year to change my thermal vehicle for an electric model, my rental contract with option to buy ending in December 2022 .
So I had started to take an interest in the different models. From Tesla to Peugeot via Hyundai. My job allowed me to test a few models for several days, in real conditions. Ultimately, I will not change my thermal vehicle for an electric one. I’ll tell you why.
Electric car prices have skyrocketed
Already when buying my previous vehicle (in 2019), I was tempted by an electric model. At the time, the prices were already higher than those of a thermal model, but the fuel economy made it possible to navigate in the long term. And that’s not to mention the greatly reduced maintenance costs. Unfortunately my finances did not allow me to pay more than 30,000 euros for the model that suited me at the time (Tesla Model 3).
As the years go by, my frustration grows. While my personal finances would have allowed me to buy this Model 3 today, its price has increased considerably. So much so that the maximum ecological bonus (for vehicles under 45,000 euros) is no longer taken into account. A Model 3, without option, now costs more than 50,000 euros against less than 40,000 last year!
So I looked at other manufacturers. Very quickly the Hyundai Ioniq 5 (voted best vehicle of the year) pulled out of the game. Its price: more than 45,000 euros in the basic offer. No ecological bonus of 6,000 euros (apart from the basic model which does not suit me) and therefore out of budget.
I proceeded in this way with dozens of models, always with the same conclusion: the prices have inflated so much that it was impossible for me to consider a purchase when my finances would have allowed me to do so with the prices. from last year.
The only models that fall within my budget (yet already comfortable for a vehicle), are city cars like the Peugeot e208, the best-selling model in France this year. Problem: its low autonomy and its size do not allow me to make it my main vehicle. I have a toddler, so I need room in the back and also in the trunk (parents know).
I therefore considered keeping my current thermal vehicle (for long journeys) and making the Peugeot e208 the second vehicle in my household, for short journeys. But the price of an electric city car intended to serve as a second vehicle is, in all transparency, prohibitive.
For the time being, it therefore seems that the electric car is not within reach of a couple with the correct salaries (two executives with 15 years of experience) living in the Province (campaign of Amiens) with a young child. And this, even if we take into account the savings made on fuel, which represents a monthly budget that is nonetheless significant.
Let’s talk numbers: my current thermal vehicle costs me 250 euros per month (in LOA). My partner’s business trips and our personal trips (rather rare) cost us 400 euros each month (the budget exploded to 600 euros when petrol was 2 euros per litre).
Even taking into account the current price of fuel, we therefore end up with a budget of 650 euros per month. Taking the example of the Ioniq 5 (model comparable in size and range to my current vehicle), the amount of the long-term rental would amount to 540 euros per month with a starting contribution of 6,000 euros. If we smooth these 6,000 euros over the 60 months of the rental (chosen during configuration), we reach 640 euros per month. And we do not count here the cost of energy.
So yes, the choice of electric is also an ecological approach, at least as far as I’m concerned. Nevertheless, my commitment is intended to be pragmatic: I cannot risk the financial balance of my household (even more so with a young child) for a car.
This is all the more true since electricity is not free from all reproach in terms of ecology: the extraction of rare metals for the manufacture of batteries is a disaster, production in Chinese factories running on coal is also harmful, and the electric is viable only if the electricity is produced in a clean way. But that’s a whole other topic.
Autonomy and recharging: two problems to solve (and quickly)
Let’s assume that the prices of electric vehicles drop in the coming months (which seems impossible, let’s be honest). Even if that were the case, two other problems are holding me back in my transition: autonomy and charging.
I had the opportunity to try several electric vehicles for the Auto section of Presse-citron. For all, the conclusion was the same: autonomy and recharging pose big problems for long journeys. For everyday life, and under certain conditions, the electric can be relevant. But it is important to understand that several criteria must be met.
Let’s talk about autonomy first. If you use your car for commuting, then range is not an issue. On average, a Frenchman travels 54 km per day for his home-work journeys according to a Tesla representative. Knowing that a vehicle connected to a conventional mains socket gains 100 to 150 km between 7 p.m. and 7 a.m., you are guaranteed to always have a full battery, and at a lower cost.
First problem: not everyone can plug in their car every night. If you live in an apartment in the city center (even in the Province), it may be complicated. If in Paris the old Autolib charging stations can be used, this is not the case everywhere. So, unless you rent an underground parking space with a charging station, it’s shredded. You will have to find a public terminal as close as possible to your home, which can quickly become a hassle.
In contrast, if you have a detached house with a garage, that’s a big yes. You come home from work, park your car, plug it in, and off you go for 12 hours of charging. You can even have an individual station installed with fast charging. The great luxury.
The hassle of long journeys
For long journeys, it’s a whole different matter. The network of charging stations is still sparse. Outside the main highways, it is difficult to find terminals. Moreover, as I explained in my test of the latest Renault Mégane E-Tech, the charging station market is a real wild west.
To recharge your car on a long trip, you will need several payment cards, several mobile applications, and even if there are universal cards, they are not always compatible.
Above all, you will quickly discover that the cost of recharging on the highway is more expensive than a full tank of gas. For example, at Ionity, it is not uncommon to pay around forty euros to recharge a Mégane-type vehicle. But to travel 250 to 300 kilometers at most.
You will also discover that at certain times (especially holidays), the charging stations are taken by storm. And since a charge takes an average of 20 minutes, you’re not done falling behind on your journey if your station is crowded. As a symbol, Renault offers owners of electric Méganes the option of renting a thermal model at a preferential price when they wish to make long journeys.
Apart from the price, all these brakes led me to tell myself that the infrastructures were not yet ready to allow me to use an electric car on a daily basis. And this, even if I will live in a few months in a detached house with a garage. My main problem being that my household only has one vehicle and that I consider myself entitled to fully enjoy it (that is to say also when I want to make long journeys) in view of the price of said vehicle .
Why not the rechargeable hybrid?
In my reflection on the purchase (or rather the rental) of an electric car, I realized that this transition was not for now. In any case, democratization will not take place before 2035, unless plans change.
Because the challenges to be met are immense. First, we will have to find a way to sell cheaper electric vehicles, find out how to supply the charging stations with electricity. According to Thierry Breton, European Commissioner, charging stations will require 15% more electricity compared to our current consumption. However, the energy crisis shows us that we must transform our consumption models. And these are just a few examples in the ocean of trials to overcome.
In the meantime, since I cannot afford an electric car and the infrastructure is not yet viable for my use, which vehicle will I buy?
My ecological commitment (I am not a committed activist but I try to do my best) pushes me to replace my petrol vehicle with a more virtuous model. And while I had resigned myself to keeping my petrol car for a few more years, I was led to write an article on the drop in sales of plug-in hybrids.
According to experts, if these vehicles are no longer sold, it is because they are neither ecological nor economical. In reality, these vehicles are sold mainly to businesses. However, users of company vehicles often have a petrol card (the famous GR card) enabling them to refuel at the company’s expense. As a result, they almost never recharge their plug-in hybrid. As a result, as the vehicle is heavier (because of the battery), consumption is higher.
In studying this file, I realized that the plug-in hybrid was perhaps the right solution for a smooth and pragmatic transition. By exploiting the concept well, the hybrid currently combines the best of both worlds.
With the electric motor (which we mainly use in urban areas), we pollute less and we save money. With the combustion engine, you can travel long distances without fear of running out of fuel, the high cost of refills or long waiting hours in motorway service areas.
So yes, plug-in hybrids are more expensive than thermal models, but the savings in fuel consumption also make it possible to compensate. Some of our readers explain that they consume less than 2 liters per 100 kilometers with their plug-in hybrid vehicle.
If this solution is not perfect, it has at least the merit of polluting less while saving money. For the next three to five years, the rechargeable hybrid may still have interest. In any case, as far as I’m concerned, it seems to be a good compromise, while waiting for better. But that’s just my opinion.