Will “Affordable” E.Go Be Undercut By The Chinese?
“We don’t expect competition from Chinese anytime soon in that segment because cars like this won’t easily pass EU homogolation. The e.Go represents very solid German engineering.
As BMW unveils another unaffordable battery-powered behemoth, European car buyers on modest incomes may be wondering if there will ever be an electric car to match their wallets.
Introducing German start-up e.Go Mobile, which plans to launch a series of small electric vehicles that attack the budget end of the market. Its starting price of around €20,000 ($24,000 after tax) will catch the attention of average earners across Europe, and will stir German buyers’ pockets book as they deduct the massive subsidy the equivalent of almost $7,000.
Prices of the new all-electric BMW i4, unveiled Wednesday, are likely to start at $70,000 after tax.
Sales of its first vehicle, the 4-seater e.Go Life Next “limited edition”, will start in Germany in July.
Aachen, Germany-based E.Go has big global ambitions. It wants to produce 90,000 vehicles a year by 2026 in 4 or maybe 5 plants around the world – Germany, Greece, Mexico, Thailand – and maybe China. Sales in Europe in 2023 will be about 20,000, and in the U.S. via the Mexico plant will reach 20,000 in 2027, said Guenther Schuh, chairman of Next.e.GO Mobile SE in an interview.
All these plants will be designed with similar principles and use the same production methods, what the company calls its micro-factory concept.
“Our product structure allows profitable Micro-Factories with an annual production volume of only 20,000 cars. So, we go with this into relevant markets around the world. These Micro-factories are low CAPEX plants, the product principle of which can be copied and pasted into new locations, where you can do some localization,” he said.
Lasts for 50 years
“The aluminum space-frame design (of the e.Go) means we build a body that will last for 50 years, 4 times longer than any current comparable car. We need a special high-tech body-in-white shop, but we have no press shop, no expensive tools, no paint shop and an assembly where we can build the car very cost efficient from the inside to the outside. These factories are operated at 20,000 vehicles a year, with two 10,000 shifts. Profitability could be achieved a bit lower at 17,000 to 18,000,” Schuh said.
After the initial product, the company plans a family of cars using a base group of components and this will include the e.Go Life Sport and e.GO Life Cross. Media reports have suggested e.GO planned, like the Ford Motor Company, to use Volkswagen’s basic electric car engineering. Not so, said Schuh.
“None of these e.GO Mobile models are based on the VW MEB platform. It is our own platform. But VW renewed their willingness to give us access to components out of the MEB platform,” Schuh said.
The vehicles will be powered by either 24, 28, or 32 kWh batteries. This will allow a range of up to 200 kilometers or about 125 miles.
Will that range be enough?
“Yes, it is the concept of the car: a typical secondary car for the family, mainly in urban environment. That will be very sufficient in Europe and Asia,” Schuh said.
Electric cars are at their best in urban and rural conditions. As soon as they venture on to high-speed roads, even the most expensive electric vehicles like the Jaguar I-Pace, VW ID.3, and Polestar 2, shed available range at an alarming rate.
The market in Europe is ripe for an assault from cheaper models because currently, entry level electric small cars from mainstream manufacturers are often cost more than twice that of bottom of the range internal combustion engine (ICE), while offering less in terms of range. Probably the cheapest electric car on the market in Europe now is the Dacia Spring (€17,000/$20,300 after tax), a small SUV produced by this value subsidiary of Renault. Poised in the wings are much cheaper vehicles from China, like the big-selling Hong Guang MINI EV, priced around €10,000 ($12,000).
Aren’t e.Go prices a bit expensive compared with possible newcomers like the Hong Guang MINI EV?
“We don’t expect competition from the Chinese anytime soon in that segment because cars like this won’t easily pass EU homogolation. The e.Go represents very solid German engineering. We build a body that will last for 50 years, and is designed specifically for an electric car. We are very concerned about sustainability and this is helped by a small car with a small battery,” Schuh said.
The company has just completed a financing round but hasn’t disclosed the investors yet. It declined to reveal details of its investment plan, or of its target date for making profits. The company was in financial trouble last year, but was rescued by Dutch private equity company ND Industrial Investments, part of the ND Group. The company was rebranded as Next.e.Go Mobile.