If we focus on the price and reach, there’s a clear winner.
The Volkswagen ID.3 presentation made Herbert Diess, CEO of the Volkswagen Group, both proud and happy, as we could tell from watching him in the backstage of the Volkswagen Group Night. It intends to be the electric Beetle, an “electric for all,” as its motto said. But that implies a low price, which the car will not have right from the beginning. Coincidentally, Renault presented the prices for the City K-ZE in China. And it costs 62,800 RMB – or $8,740 at the current exchange rate. So which of them is really an “electric for all”?
It is important to say these cars do not compare actually compare apart from being EVs. While the K-ZE is based on the Renault Kwid, the ID.3 uses an entirely new platform. It is also a much larger car.
The Renault is 3.74 m (147.2 in) long, 1.58 m (62.2 in) wide, 1.48 m (58.3 in) tall, and has a 2.42 m (95.3 in) wheelbase. Its top version, sold by 71,800 RMB ($10,160), is slightly taller, at 1,52 m (59,8 in), probably due to roof rails. It also has a mid-spec option for 66,800 RMB ($9,450).
The ID.3 is 4.26 m long (167.7 in), 1.81 m (71.3 in) wide, 1.55 m (61 in) tall, and has a wheelbase of 2.77 m (109,1 in). It still did not have its prices disclosed, but they are said to start below €30,000 – a little more than $33,000.
Curiously, both have similar trunk spaces: 300 l (10.6 ft³) for the K-ZE and 385 l (13.6 ft³) for the ID.3. Besides pricing, what effectively sets them apart is the battery pack capacity.
While the Renault has a 26.8 kWh pack, good for 271 km of range under the NEDC cycle, the ID.3 offers three options: 45 kWh, 58 kWh, and 77 kWh. The offered ranges, under the WLTP cycle, go from 330 km up to 550 km.
Proportionally, the K-ZE does more with its kWh due to the low weight: 921 kg (2,031 lb) compared to 1,720 kg of the 45-kWh VW.
Conceived as a world EV by Carlos Ghosn, former Renault and Nissan CEO, the City K-ZE will be sold in many emerging markets apart from China. Brazil and India are almost sure to receive it. There are rumors it can even be sold in Europe in the next five years as a low-cost EV. Or, as Volkswagen would put it, an electric for all.
Will the electric Beetle be a China-produced French car? That is very likely, at least until 2023. That’s when VW intends to start to sell an affordable EV that does not make it lose money. It will cost less than $22,000. Or twice as much as the City K-ZE, which Renault claims that can make a profit.