Not The Award For The Best Plug-In Vehicle Of The Show
The Bucharest Auto Show (SAB) is the biggest auto show in Romania, and has its doors open to the public between the 10th and 20th of October. The ticket price for entry is $6, and for that you can see both the classic cars part of the show and the new cars stands.
Editor's Note: We'd like to thank Andrei for covering this show for InsideEVs, and his insights into the electric vehicle scene in Romania for us!
An Opel Mokka Hits The Show Floor (aka Buick Encore, aka Chevrolet Trax, aka Holden Trax, aka Vauxhall Mokka, aka Chevrolet Tracker)
Because of the world wide financial crisis, the show is not even a shadow of its former glory days. With a surface area that is no bigger than the one of a flea market, the 3 small hangars that host the car representatives do not have anything important to show you. The only important cars that managed to find their way here from the Frankfurt auto show were the BMW 4 series and the jaguar F-type. I can defiantly say that the classic car part was much more interesting, then the new cars section of the show.
While the whole world is putting its accent on green cars, sustainable energy and lowering the cars CO2 emissions, at this show you cannot find an electric vehicle. Which is a shame, because only a couple of weeks ago, the world has seen the largest number of Eco friendly cars on display just some distance away in Germany.
People that came to this show were expecting to find new cars, world premiers, with low consumption, low maintenance costs, very economical, but the majority of them were just last year models. You can find all these cars in a Mall parking lot, so why come here? The only 2 hybrids present here were a Peugeot 508 and a Citroen DS5.
It is true that Romania is not a big Eco car market with only 31 EVs registered this year:
1-Prius Plug in, 1-Citroen C-Zero
28-Renault Fluence ZE (although the Fluence ZE and the Leaf are not yet for sale here)
- 20 misc (4-Porsche, 4-Ford, 4-BMW, 4-Audi, 1-Cadillac, 1-Kia, 1-GMC, 1-Mercury)
With 28 Registeres This Year, the Fluence ZE by Renault Is The "Runaway" Plug-In Leader In Romania
This result from a total of 207,150 cars registered. That is: 0.18% of the cars registered here this year until the 1st of October are hybrids. Do you want me to tell you the percentage for electric cars? It's a lot lower.
You can say that the Romanian EV car market is more like a two month pregnancy, you can't say that isn't there but you still cannot see anything! And yes we know, the EV market in Romania is hilarious, even Coda can do better in a month (if they wanedt to)...and they are bankrupt! You have more chances of being struck by lightning, then to see an EV, let alone be hit by one!
Anyway, getting back to the show, as if all of the above was not enough, the top dealers that were representing the car manufactures were very badly informed and did not have any significant knowledge about EVs.
The one from Citroen did not even know that an electric version of the i-MiEV, called C-Zero existed (although 2 are registered in Romania)
The one from Chevrolet told me that the Volt was not yet launched in Romania (no words about Spark EV)
The one from Opel told me that he had done his part in selling one Ampera (4 are registered)
The one from Honda blamed the infrastructure
The one from Ford told me that their sales margin from an EV is so small that they do not want to sell them, and prefer to sell other models instead
The one from BMW told me that “I would do well to” talk to them very nicely, because I have the “privilege” to see the new 4 series (no i models were presented); you have to keep in mind that BMW is one of the top selling brands here in Romania and a very appreciated one
Nissan Representatives At The Show Did Not Do A Very Good Job Representing The Zero Emission Philosophy
The icing on the cake was the stand from Nissan, who had representatives that did not know anything about their electric vehicles, and a team leader who got confused between electric vehicles hybrid vehicles in the first part of our conversation!
Further in the conversation, the Nissan representative told me that the cheapest new Leaf costs 20k euro/$27,200 USD (which is not the case even if the Leaf is produced in Europe at the UK plant - you can see the price in pounds displayed on their web site). You can acquire a Leaf that cheap here, but only if it is a second hand one. The rep also told me that the service centers have to invest some 40k euro ($54.6k USD) to accommodate the LEAF and the dealers do not want that because they would have to sell 1,000 LEAFs to recuperate the investment.
If you do still want a new LEAF, they will bring one for you on special order - but it will cost you a whole lot more then bringing the car yourself into the country; either way they (Nissan) will not offer you any kind of warranty on the car.
None of the major auto makers currently had plans to bring EVs to Romania in a big way.
Want a 2013 Mitsubishi i-MiEV In Blue? You Can Get One In Romania (but not in the US)
The only stand with a more serious approach was the Mitsubishi stand, and although NO i-MiEV was on display at least they told me I can see one in their showrooms- and I can drive it. Mitsubishi even have them on sales by 1,800 Euro ($2,500 USD) from their list price of 36,640 Euro ($49,747 USD.) . WOW!!! What a bargain!!!
Even more, if I give them my old car, they will increase the discount to an amazing grand total of 4,500 Euro, so I can end up with an i-MiEv that will only cost me 32140 Euro ($43,638 USD)!!! That explains why they sold only 5 in 2 years!!! (P.S. Mitsubishi does have plans to bring the Outlander PHEV into Romania, but who knows at what price!!!)
Tesla's No Dealer Model Might Be An Ideal Setup For Romania
It was odd that even Dacia (Renault's budget car brand) with its main factory present in this country was nowhere to be found. Other very important brands in Romania there were no-shows included: Alfa Romeo, Audi, Bentley, Cadillac, Ferrari, Fiat, Jeep, Lamborghini, Lexus, Porsche, Renault, Smart, Subaru, Volkswagen, and Volvo. Only 16 types of cars could be found at SAB through their main dealers.
For Romania, now I understand Tesla and their NO dealer approach. I am waiting for a Tesla showroom to show everybody that an EV can indeed sell here (in one of the EU capital with the largest concentration of over 100k Euro cars per person).