Whenever you see someone saying they want to save the world by buying a massive electric SUV, doubt their true intentions. Energy efficiency depends on three main aspects: aerodynamics, powertrain efficiency, and mass. The heavier something is, the more energy it needs to move. Although that may seem obvious, many seem to fail to realize that. Perhaps the Dacia Spring can teach them a lesson.
The affordable EV now sold in Europe had its range tested by the French magazine L’Automobile against three other competitors: the Renault Twingo Electric, the Volkswagen e-Up!, and the Renault ZOE R110. L’Automobile measured their ranges in the urban, road, and mixed cycles.
If it ran only in city streets, the Dacia Spring would achieve an energy efficiency superior to that offered by the Lucid Air or the Mercedes-Benz EQS. The A-segment hatchback gets 5.3 mi/kWh, which translates to 11.8 kWh/100 km or 8.47 km/kWh. The luxury sedans get around 4.5 mi/kWh.
That happens because the Dacia Spring could run 227 km in L’Autmobile’s tests. Dacia claims it can run 305 km. For its 26.8 kWh battery pack, what helps is the low weight of only 960 kilograms (2,116 pounds) for an electric vehicle. All its competitors exceed a metric ton.
The Renault Twingo Electric weighs 1,518 kg (3,347 kg), even being shorter than the Spring. It is the heaviest car among the four EVs tested. Even so, it did relatively well in the city with an energy consumption of 4.52 mi/kWH (7.27 km/kWh or 13.75 kWh/100 km), running 160 km with its 22 kWh battery pack. That makes it even with the luxury sedans.
L’Automobile argues that the Twingo Electric has another handicap compared to the Dacia Spring: rear-wheel-drive. That would make it have less benefit from regenerative braking because that would interfere with stability in such a short car. Because of that, it would be much less aggressive than it is in the Dacia Spring.
The Volkswagen e-Up! did a better job keeping the mass low – 1,160 kg, or 2,557 lb – even with a larger, liquid-cooled battery pack: 32.3 kWh. Running 240 km in the urban cycle, it goes better than the Twingo Electric when it comes to energy consumption: 4.61 mi/kWh (13.46 kWh/100 km or 4.61 mi/kWh).
The worst of the group is the Renault Zoe R110. Curiously, it is the one with the larger battery pack (41 kWh), but it is only slightly better than the e-Up!. The Zoe can travel 266 km in the city, which leads its energy efficiency to 4.03 mi/kWh (6.48 km/kWh or 15.41 kWh/100 km). If you are wondering how much it weighs, it is quite heavy, at 1,468 kg (3,236 lb).
We’ll ignore the mixed cycle, but you can check it at L’Automobile’s website. It is the highway cycle that helps us to show how important aerodynamics also is.
At high speeds and having to beat air resistance, the Dacia Spring gets only 2.6 mi/kWh after traveling only 110 km. That’s the same number obtained by the VW e-Up!. The bigger battery pack takes it a little further: 133 km. The Twingo Electric goes a little better, at 2.8 mi/kWh, but drives for only 100 km. Again, the worst one is the Zoe R110, with an energy efficiency of 2 mi/kWh, running 135 km.
Although the French magazine tests reveal how disappointing the Dacia Spring performance is, it also demonstrates that it does a fantastic job at spending little energy and getting the most of what its battery pack can offer in the city. Hopefully, it will also teach the bigger guys what avoiding carbon emission really is about.