Renault Austral E-Tech Hybrid, a promise of escape

TEST – Finalist for the “car of the year” award, this new SUV bears witness to the return to the forefront of the diamond firm.

Renault is on the road to rebirth. It is an intuition on the faith of the discovery of the range which will be in the showrooms of its distributors in 2025. A privilege reserved for the members of the jury of the “car of the year”. The proof that the Diamond is regaining color: for the second consecutive year, a Renault is in the running for this coveted prize. After the Mégane E-Tech Electric arrived vice-champion this year, all hopes are allowed for the Austral to become the elected 2023. This SUV will make people forget the Kadjar which has not been unworthy since its launch in 2015 but which seemed too tender in the face of fierce competition in the forefront of which is the Peugeot 3008 but now also the 408.


Starting from the third generation of the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance’s CMF-CD platform, which the French brand is using for the first time, the designers have designed a silhouette that does not have to be ashamed of its rivals in terms of of proportions and elegance. After a grille monopolized by a hypertrophied diamond treated in brushed satin chrome, the change is based on taut lines, a sculpted bonnet and curved shoulders. The Austral now fully assumes its SUV status with underbody protections, front and rear skids on certain versions as well as highlighted wheel arches that can accommodate 17 to 20 inch and 720 tires. mm in diameter. Around a wheelbase of 2.67 m, the Renault gains a few centimeters compared to the Kadjar and the 3008. It measures 60 mm more, or 4.51 meters. This is enough to make the difference in terms of habitability and trunk volume.

A handful of airplane gas

The revolution continues as the doors open. To the quality of presentation is added the modernism of a dashboard borrowed from the new electric Mégane. The largely customizable instrumentation is fully digital. It rests on a 12.3-inch screen that merges into a lying L-shaped assembly with the central 12-inch panel facing the driver (from level 2). Traffic is much more intuitive than with the old system and Renault had the good idea to keep the air conditioning settings in direct access. In addition to the quality of the graphics and the resolution of the multimedia screen, the user will rent the Google interface giving access to the services and applications of the search engine. Renault has even thought of simplifying navigation through the system menus by installing a hand rest in the shape of an airplane gas handle on the central tunnel. It is an integral part of the sliding curtain which acts as a smartphone holder and provides access to storage spaces.


Decidedly concerned with taking care of the occupants, this SUV adds a 9.3-inch head-up display and, depending on the version, a rear seat that folds down into two parts (2/3-1/3) and each part of which can slide independently on 160 mm. The seat backs have three levels of recline. Depending on the needs, we can therefore focus on legroom or cargo volume. In the best case, the latter stands at 575 litres, 20 liters better than with the 200 hp hybrid version. Finally, it’s a first: Alpine is no longer just a brand but represents Renault’s top-of-the-range finish. It has a particularly opulent atmosphere based on a technical fabric enhanced with gray suedette elements perfectly coordinated with the satin gunmetal gray bodywork color, reserving an almost matte finish. Still in terms of equipment, the Austral incorporates the latest in driving assistance and in particular Active Driver Assist, which allows the vehicle to adapt to the profile of the road and which provides level 2 autonomous driving.


This will not surprise anyone, in the context of the ecological transition, the Austral ignores diesel and only offers electrified gasoline engines. Unlike the Peugeot 3008 and 408 in particular, Renault has not retained the rechargeable hybrid, favoring light hybridization 12 or 48 V and full hybrid with its E-Tech technology (from 40,700 €). The most powerful inaugurates a 3-cylinder 1.2 liter turbo of 130 hp coupled to two electric machines, the first of 68 hp provides electric propulsion, the other acts as a generator and controls the automatic dog gearbox offering 15 combinations of functioning. A 2 kWh (400 V) battery completes the system, dispensing, this is one of its advantages, from connecting to the mains.

The batteries recharge very quickly while driving. In town, thanks to the many phases of deceleration and braking which punctuate the journeys and which make it possible to recover electricity, we travel almost 80% of the time in electric mode (less than 50 km/h). This contributes to displaying reduced CO2 emissions (104 g/km). Thanks to a more contained mass than with a plug-in hybrid, the Austral pulls out of the game in terms of sobriety with consumption that does not exceed 6.2 l/100 km in intensive use. With 200 hp, the driver thus has a good level of performance and times – 5.6 seconds to go from 80 to 120 km / h – and a high level of approval. One downside, however: cold, racing for a few seconds of the 3-cylinder to charge the battery is a bit caricatural.


At the wheel of the Austral, we will appreciate being able to manage the level of recovery using the paddles on the steering wheel and to have with the Sport mode a superior reactivity of the box. Finally, this makes all the salt of this SUV: the presence of rear steering wheels. We can only congratulate Renault for having brought out of its boxes this equipment that the Austral is the only vehicle in its category to offer. It gives it above-average agility on winding roads and facilitates maneuvering in town due to a tight turning radius. The Austral ticks all the boxes for a great career.

Technical sheet

Engines: 3-cyl. 1199 cc turbo petrol + 2 electric motors

Power: 130 hp (cumulative: 200 hp)

Torque: 205 Nm at 1,750 rpm

Transmission: Traction, Automatic dog gearbox

Dimensions (L/W/H): 4510 x 1843 x 1618mm

Trunk: 430 liters

Weight: 1,517 kg

Performance (0-100 km/h): 8.4 seconds

Speed: 175 km/h

Consumption (Mixed EU): 4.6 l/100 km

CO2 emissions: 104g/km

Price: from €40,700



Peugeot 408, when the sedan reinvents itself

TEST – With its new family, the Sochaux manufacturer tries the ideal synthesis between the sedan and the SUV.

Post-SUV: all manufacturers are thinking about it. Sometimes for a long time. At Peugeot, the first projects date back to 2014, when the current 3008 did not yet exist. The research of the French manufacturer has just given birth to the 408, a model halfway between a sedan and an SUV. From the EMP2 platform of the 308 stretched by 110 mm, the designers have given birth to a silhouette that could confuse the followers of the Sochaux brand. Taking the risk of doing a little too much, the new model stands out in the landscape. We will have to get used to this new aesthetic expression that we will undoubtedly find with other manufacturers.

Tibo//The Good Click

It is based on a particular balance of shape, reflecting a plunging 308 bonnet associated with swollen rear fenders, endless side glazing that follows an elongated fastback-like profile – to the detriment of rearward visibility – and an imposing bumper. black plastic back. In the end, the 408 turns out to be barely 60 mm shorter than the top-of-the-range 508 and 240 mm longer than the 3008. You can see the full benefit of this by sitting in the really spacious rear seats, except for the middle one, which is hardly welcoming. Camped on 720 mm diameter wheels, the new model evolves 70 mm higher than the 508 but 145 mm lower than the Franc-Comtois SUV.


After the surprise effect of a line that does not lack audacity, we find ourselves on familiar ground by settling on board. The presentation and the opulent atmosphere come from the 308. We thus find the latest evolution of the Peugeot i-Cockpit, with the small double-flat steering wheel and the elaborate dashboard in two parts. Once again, this arrangement does not lend itself to all sizes and, to perceive the information from the instrumentation screen, some will have to drive with the steering wheel on their knees. Compared to that of the Renault Austral, the graphics of the screens seem dated. The slowness of access to the functions of the multimedia system confirms our belief that the Stellantis group took too long in developing a new interface. The configuration of its shortcuts on the touch bar located under the central screen somewhat compensates for this inconvenience and above all allows you to select a function without taking your eyes off the road.

A great sobriety


Following a trend that is set to develop, Peugeot has simplified the range which consists of three engines including two plug-in hybrids and three trim levels. An electric version is planned for 2024. To access the top of the range, the Hybrid 225 hp GT version, you will still have to pay 51,400 euros. This model inherits the electrified technology already widely deployed on the French brands of the Stellantis group, namely the 4-cylinder 1.6 liter turbo 180 hp associated with a 110 hp electric machine and a 12.4 kWh battery. The set displays a cumulative power of 225 hp and a torque of 360 Nm. Peugeot announces an electric range of 63 km, which gives it CO2 emissions of 26 g/km (1.2 l/100 km). In reality, we are closer to 40 km. As always with a plug-in hybrid vehicle, the actual consumption depends on use and the frequency of recharging. Count 1 hour 40 on a wallbox with the optional 7.4 kW charger.

Following on from the latest Peugeots, the 408 has extremely rigorous road handling. The performances are there and the times are superior to the Austral (4.5 seconds to go from 80 to 120 km/h). If the approval is high, offering a good compromise between comfort and dynamism, the management of the eight-speed automatic transmission deserves more response and fluidity. We cannot too strongly suggest favoring the 19-inch wheels rather than the optional 20-inch mounts, which are less comfortable on low-speed bleeding and degraded roads. With the plug-in hybrid engine, it will also be necessary to accept a reduced trunk volume of 65 liters (471 liters) and even 82 liters with the Focal hi-fi system.

If the silhouette is brought to school, we regret that Peugeot did not go to the end of the idea of ​​a dynamic sedan by giving up offering the 300 hp plug-in hybrid version. It’s not too late to change your mind.




Mazda CX-60, watts and space

TEST – The new flagship of the Japanese brand becomes the most powerful model in its history thanks to its rechargeable hybrid engine.

Lilliputian on the scale of the sector – its production is below 2 million vehicles per year -, Mazda has a singular way of designing the automobile which is not to displease us. This vision nourished by the pre-eminence of the engineers has just given birth to the CX-60, a large SUV of 4.75 m available in plug-in hybrid and 6-cylinder in-line diesel of 3.3 liters. The latter, launched in the first quarter of 2023, imposed a long bonnet architecture, in line with the house design, which contributes to the dynamism of the silhouette. As for the battery version, it is part of the brand’s strategy of only marketing electrified models by 2030.

The engine manufacturers did not skimp: the CX-60 becomes the most powerful model in the history of the brand with 327 hp and 500 Nm of torque. It combines the 191 hp of the 2.5-litre 4-cylinder petrol engine with the 171 hp of the electric motor powered by a 17.8 kWh battery. We noted an electric range of 53 km and a consumption of 7.1 l/100 km over a varied route of 500 km.

A clean presentation


If regenerative braking dispenses with having to use the brakes on the secondary network, driving pleasure will have to be satisfied with a lack of fluidity during energy exchanges (thermal and electrical) and hectic suspensions on bad surfaces and under-damped. , especially at the rear axle. Too bad because the CX-60 takes care of the reception. The peaceful atmosphere is based, in the case of the top-of-the-range Takumi version, on white leather upholstery coordinated with light maple wood and stitched fabric. Thanks to facial recognition, we find its seat, air conditioning and audio system settings. The car can store up to six configurations.


Technical sheet

Engines: 4 cyl., 2,488 cc, 191 hp + 1 electric motor (total: 327 hp)

Transmission: Integral, auto. 8 gears

Dimensions: L. 4.74, w. 1.89 a.m. 1.68m

Consumption: 1.5 l/100 km

CO emissions2: 33g/km

Speed: 200km/h

Price: from €54,650



Abarth goes electric

NEW – The Fiat 500e is now available in the Abarth range.

The European Commission’s decision to impose the sale of electric vehicles in Europe from January 1, 2035 obliges all manufacturers to convert to this technology. This is how the Stellantis group is gradually electrifying all its brands. Today, it’s the turn to announce its first battery-powered vehicle. Unsurprisingly, it was developed from the Fiat 500e launched at the end of 2020. Like all the other models in the Abarth range, this new version of the 500 inherits the stylistic attributes of the scorpion-based brand. rocker panels, wide fenders, large wheels and specific bumpers.

Marco De Ponti

Known, the electric technology is borrowed from the Fiat 500e but here the 42 kWh battery powers an electric motor increased to 155 horsepower, instead of 118 hp with the Italian generalist manufacturer. Result: the electric bombinette from Abarth is capable of passing the 100 km/h mark in 7 seconds. The manufacturer even announces performance superior to that of an Abarth 695. It would thus pass 50% faster from 20 to 40 km/h than its counterpart with a petrol engine. The latter takes a second than the electric model to reach 60 km/h. And to continue by assuring that on “the Misto Alfa Handling Track in Balocco, the new Abarth 500e thus beats the 695 by more than a second. But performance is not everything and Abarth has been careful not to reveal autonomy. We know, however, that in terms of charging performance, the on-board charger does not exceed 85 kW. This would be enough to recover around 40 km of range in less than 5 minutes and 35 minutes to recover 80% of the battery. To preserve the accumulators, the driver can play with the driving modes. With Turismo mode, power is limited to 100 kW (136 hp), torque to 220 Nm, instead of 235 Nm. Scorpion Street mode offers peak performance while maximizing regenerative braking. The last mode, Scorpion Track, is intended to maximize performance.

Marco De Ponti

Another specificity of the Abarth, the sound signature has been the subject of particular care. If each power-up of the electric machine is accompanied by the sound of a guitar and exceeding 20 km/h is marked by the scratching of a guitar, the engineers have equipped the 500e with a sound generator reproducing the typical sound of an Abarth.

On the occasion of its launch in the course of 2023, the Abarth 500e benefits from a special edition called Scorpionissima. Available in coupé or convertible version, this edition is limited to just 1,949 units, in reference to the brand’s birth year.



Rimac Nevera, already a world record

NEWS – While the first deliveries are starting in dribs and drabs, the Nevera has just set a world speed record at 412 km/h.

Almost as fast as a Bugatti Chiron. The Croatian brand Rimac, which took control of Bugatti as part of a joint venture with Porsche, has just caused a sensation by setting a world speed record with its Nevera electric supercar. Thanks to its four motors, one per wheel, this berlinetta claims the phenomenal power of 1,914 horsepower. It is thus capable of passing the 100 km/h mark in 1.97 seconds and reaching 300 km/h in 9.3 seconds.

The show of force does not stop there. For a few days now, we have known that it is not only able to pin down anything that rolls. The Nevera also rivals the best sports cars on the market when it comes to performance. On the Papenburg test track in Germany, the Croatian manufacturer’s electric berlinetta thus exceeded 400 km / h, reaching the miraculous speed of 412 km / h, relying on the two straight lines of 4 km of the circuit.

To achieve this performance, Miro Zrnčević, the test pilot responsible for the development of the Rimac models, activated the mode which reduces aerodynamic drag without degrading downforce in order to ensure perfect stability at high speed. The vehicle was fitted with Michelin Cup 2R tires specifically developed for the Nevera.

As with Bugatti, the top speed of the Nevera requires special preparation. As standard, the electric berlinetta can reach a speed of 352 km/h.




Thermal-electric match: economic advantage to the battery car

STUDY – Thanks to advantageous taxation and the competitiveness of the price per kilowatt, carbon-free vehicles have lower running costs than combustion engines. Only recharging still raises questions for companies.

Appearances can be deceiving. If the electric vehicle seems prohibitive at first glance, a more in-depth analysis shows the opposite. A think tank of the BNP Paribas group, the Arval Mobility Observatory publishes an annual study on the evolution of costs. These specialists embrace all of the budget lines necessary for the operation of a company vehicle: depreciation, financial costs, maintenance, tires, insurance, energy and tax and social charges. With all these parameters, the match between electric and thermal each time turns to the advantage of the first even if the latter displays much higher list prices.

In the city car segment, the electric Renault Twingo is sold for 22,100 euros, from which the 4,000 euro bonus must be withdrawn when its petrol counterpart is displayed at 14,300 euros. Taking into account the total cost of use and with a driving rule of 48 months and 80,000 kilometres, electric costs 18,104 euros compared to 23,332 for petrol, i.e. a difference of 5,228 euros to the benefit of the electric. Whatever the mileage, the electric version wins, despite a higher purchase price of 3,800 euros including bonus. Taxation works in favor of the carbon-free version, as does the cost of energy, the amount of which is almost half as much. The electric Twingo escapes annual taxes on passenger vehicles, new versions of the Company Vehicle Tax (TVS) and is not subject to non-deductible depreciation. The electric Twingo pays 1,343 euros in tax and social charges when gasoline must pay 3,543 euros, including 1,030 in annual taxes on passenger vehicles. And the greater the mileage, the greater the differential.

An advantageous tax

The think tank’s study extends to other segments of the automotive market with the same conclusion. Despite a higher price of 8,260 euros (bonus included), the electric Fiat 500 also comes out on top against the micro-hybrid version and this, at all the mileages studied with the exception of 60,000 kilometers. Here again, taxation leans in favor of the greenest version, as does the energy budget, the amount of which varies from 2,900 to 4,200 euros from 60,000 to 120,000 kilometres. The tax and social charges of the electric Fiat 500 amount to 1,853 euros against 3,267 for the micro-hybrid version.

The Peugeot 208 Allure is sold at a price of 30,700 euros (bonus included) in its electric version, 22,350 in its petrol version and 23,850 in diesel. From 60,000 to 120,000 kilometres, the connected version proves to be more economical when taking into account all the running costs. Same result for the Peugeot 2008, the Citroën C4, the Renault Mégane or the ID.3 confronted with Golf plug-in hybrids, petrol and diesel. For the Peugeot SUV and depending on the mileage, the cost of energy varies from 2,930 to 4,180 euros for electric, from 5,522 to 11,044 for gasoline and from 4,418 to 8,836 for diesel. The petrol version has fuel consumption of 5.9 l/100 km and the diesel 4.8 l/100 km.

For the Citroën C4, electric, petrol and diesel must pay 1,309, 9,110 and 9,632 euros in social security and tax charges respectively. Exemption from annual taxes on passenger vehicles does indeed play a decisive role.

A more difficult valuation on the used-vehicle market

If taxation and energy plead in favor of the electric, the depreciation of the vehicle remains the first expense item of a vehicle. Still according to the Arval Mobility Observatory, it represented 39.12% of the total cost of using a company vehicle in 2021, i.e. 15,481 euros over 48 months. This amount takes into account the list price with discount less the foreseeable resale value on the second-hand market at the end of the holding period.

For electric vehicles, the calculation of the residual value takes into account the ecological bonus of 4,000 euros. Displayed at 45,000 euros, a carbon-free vehicle will be estimated at 41,000 euros by funding bodies. The difference with the resale price on the second-hand market decreases, the residual value decreases and rents go up.

Another element to take into account, expensive to buy, technologies are poorly valued on the second-hand market. “The additional cost of electrical technologies reaches 8 to 10,000 euros on the price displayed in the catalog, explains Yoann Taitz, regional estimate and data manager for Autovista for France and Benelux. However, the higher this amount, the greater the depreciation will be and the lower the residual value will be. Here again, the depreciation runs counter to the economic competitiveness of electricity.

The environment also impacts residual values. The establishment of Low Emission Zones stimulates demand when the difficulties encountered for recharging act in the opposite direction. “On the other hand, recovering 80% of the autonomy in 15 to 20 minutes, as is the case with Porsche and the Korean manufacturers, raises the prices on the VO market”, specifies Yoann Taitz.

A difference of 20% on residual values

Faced with the shortage of electronic components, longer delivery times on the new market and rising fuel prices, second-hand electric vehicles are enjoying growing interest. “Since January, the residual values ​​of electric vehicles have increased sharply and continuously while remaining lower than those of thermal models, specifies Yoann Taitz. Over 36 months and 45,000 kilometers and with a comparable vehicle, the difference is 20%.

According to Autovista, on the criterion of total cost of use, electric is more attractive than thermal. Over 36 months, the automotive data specialist estimates the difference at 1,500 or 2,000 euros with diesel and 1,000 euros with gasoline.

Long-term rental company of the BMW group, Alphabet sees its orders for electric vehicles explode. With this technology, contract durations and mileage are shortened to 12,000 kilometers per year. At the head of 100,000 vehicles in France, Alphabet points out the economic advantages of electric. “The financial rents associated with services represent half of the TCO on average, calculates Julien Chabbal, director of sales and marketing. Maintenance and tires favor electric over thermal. But it is above all energy and tax incentives that tip the balance in favor of electricity.

Reduced maintenance

Another criterion of appreciation, an electric motor integrates fewer parts than a thermal block, the points of friction are fewer and its reliability is higher. Under these conditions, there are fewer breakdowns and maintenance requires fewer interventions. Another advantage, the electric implies a calmer driving which allows to preserve the brakes and the tires.

A specialist in fleet management on behalf of companies, Direct Fleet takes into account all costs and considers the energy item to be particularly differentiating. With a full tank of cheaper kilowatts, gasoline and diesel are disqualified and the difference widens when the use is more intensive. For Direct Fleet, internal combustion is more competitive at less than 1,000 kilometers per month, the costs balance out at 2,000 kilometers and electric takes over from 3,000 kilometers.

When battery life meets user needs, companies have no economic reason to reject electric. The only downside, but a major one, is the question of charging, which still dampens enthusiasm with a network of public terminals that is still too fragmented.



Toyota Prius, the maturity of the first rope

NEW – Unveiled at the Los Angeles show, the fifth generation of the mother of all hybrids is even more efficient.

The Toyota Prius is unrecognizable. In twenty-five years, the mother of all hybrid models has gone from a somewhat off-puttingly styled 4.31m saloon to a desirable wagon. Technology has also evolved considerably. In a quarter of a century, power has almost doubled, rising from 117 horsepower by combining a 72 hp 1.5-litre 16-valve VVT-i 4-cylinder engine with a 45 hp electric motor powered by a nickel metal hydride battery, 223 horsepower thanks to plug-in hybrid technology, the only one offered on the fifth generation launched in the spring of 2023.


Compared to the fourth opus, the next Prius is already distinguished by much more attractive lines. The silhouette retains the one-box spirit of its predecessor, but the shapes are more modern and the bodywork gains in fluidity. Based on the second-generation GA-C platform of the TNGA architecture, the fifth Prius has kept its roof which seems to be drawn with a line in the shape of an arc of a circle, but the roof is lowered by 50 mm, in particular to the benefit of the center of gravity. At the same time, the wheelbase has been lengthened by 50 mm and the length reduced by nearly the same amount (46 mm) in favor of a better balance of forms. The posture of the Prius is also based on a body widened by 22 mm.


The interior presentation is inspired by the latest achievements of the brand and in particular the bZ4X electric SUV with a steering wheel that seems to form a single block with the digital instrument cluster located at a good distance. We experienced this with the SUV: this layout, which dispenses with the use of the head-up display, determines a perfectible driving position.

Plug-in hybrid technology

Under the hood, the Prius 4’s 1.8-litre petrol gives way to a 148-hp 2-litre. It is associated with a 120 kW (160 hp) electric motor, which increases the power to 223 horsepower. The Japanese manufacturer assures that performance has improved significantly. Consumption is also reduced and electric range increases by 50% thanks to the adoption of a 13.6 kWh battery installed under the rear seat. Already available from the Prius 3, the solar roof is renewed on certain finishes.



Are plug-in hybrids doomed?

Fabian Kirchbauer

Presented as an alternative to 100% electric for companies, plug-in hybrid vehicles are starting to make some fleet managers cringe. The reason? Too big a difference between theoretical and actual cost.

Last January, the canton of Valais, Switzerland, decided to remove subsidies for plug-in hybrid vehicles (PHEV). This measure was taken following a report published by Impact Living, a Swiss company specializing in particular in electric mobility. “Real fuel consumption measurements show that these models fall far short of their promises and offer only very slight (if any) advantages over a conventional internal combustion engine car”could we read.

A pithy decision? Yes and no. Because this technology is in itself a paradox. Explanations. PHEVs have two motors, one thermal and one electric. To operate the latter and have 50 km to 80 km of autonomy in 100% electric mode, depending on the model, the car carries batteries, i.e. 200 kg to 300 kg additional. But when unloaded, they become dead weight, leading to overconsumption.

Despite this overweight, they display approved consumption of barely 1 l/100 km, synonymous with CO emissions.2 very low (less than 20 g/km). With such characteristics, despite a higher price, PHEVs quickly entered car policies. Reduced taxation and a transition to seamless electrification for the employee, so many arguments in their favor to meet the mobility orientation law (LOM).

Declining sales

Today, they represent 11% of the B to B sales mix, a market share that has climbed to 20% with certain rental companies such as Alphabet. Stéphane Crasnier, its president, regrets that this technology has “Sold very badly, seeing here a dichotomy between the use of the vehicle and taxation. Before equipping his fleet with PHEV, the manager must ask himself the right questions: what use will the employee make of it? His mileage? Will he be able to recharge it or not? The PHEV is perfectly suited for drivers who drive daily in urban areas and who can plug in daily. This will not be the case for the big rollers. The PHEV, a casting error? Many manufacturers, Stellantis the first, have sold it as an alternative to diesel, which, incidentally, with a market share of 23.8%, is still the second best-selling energy on the BtoB market. “To optimize the TCO of a PHEV, you have to recharge as often as possible, recalls Stéphane Crasnier. Otherwise, beware of unpleasant surprises. It is therefore essential to train employees in good practices.”

Because, depending on usage, the differences between theoretical consumption and actual consumption can be multiplied by three, or even by ten on the motorway! However, interest in PHEV seems to be slowing down. In Europe, for the first time, sales fell 6% in the third quarter. In France, since January, they have fallen by 12.1% while non-rechargeable hybrids have increased by 5.2% in an overall market down by 10.3%. Is the fate of PHEVs sealed then? It is very likely. France will join the decision of the canton of Valais. From 1er January 2023, the €1,000 bonus for a PHEV – provided it costs less than €50,000 and has a range of more than 50 km – will be removed.



LeasePlan on the way to electric


TESTIMONY – On French territory, the long-term rental company is electrifying its entire fleet, acquiring specific expertise and thus setting an example for its customers.

A specialist in the financing and management of company vehicles, LeasePlan took an interest in its own fleet to make it a model to follow with its customers. The French subsidiary of this international player has decided to electrify its entire fleet. Today, more than 100 vehicles out of the 150 in the fleet have switched to this technology, presented as being less harmful to the environment.

Among the manufacturers selected, Hyundai rubs shoulders with Mini and Volkswagen. The vehicle allocation grid is spread over five levels and has four different models for each of them. Each employee eligible for a company car has the possibility of ordering an electric city car, regardless of the category to which he belongs.

To carry out this project, 15 people were mobilized internally. They were particularly interested in the total cost of using the different vehicles. According to their observations, renewing the fleet with thermal models would have weighed more heavily on finances. Even with the integration of charging stations, the calculation remains favorable. Electricity owes its competitiveness to privileged taxation and less expensive energy.

Electric vehicle deployment projects often come up against the problem of charging. LeasePlan has been particularly vigilant on this point. The first infrastructure was installed in its car park in 2011. Today, its parking spaces have 62 terminals. The homes of employees have not been forgotten with the installation of 75 charging points. Today, 90% of refueling is done at the office or at home.

Europe embraces watts

Every year, LeasePlan carries out a study on the maturity of 22 European countries in terms of electromobility. The index created on this occasion takes into account the registrations of electric vehicles, the geographical coverage of charging infrastructures and government incentives.

Main observation: the electric vehicle is progressing in almost all the countries studied. In France, the increase in the number of electric models in circulation has increased the maturity index by one point (10 in 2022 against 9 in 2021).

Another conclusion: charging infrastructure is lacking and refueling possibilities are proving insufficient at a time when registrations of electric vehicles are increasing rapidly. LeasePlan observes a decline in France on this subject with a score of 4 in 2022 against 5 in 2021.

On the economic level, LeasePlan observes a growing competitiveness of electric vehicles. More specifically, the cost of electricity is disproportionate to that of gasoline and diesel. Taxation also leans in favor of plug-in vehicles. On this single criterion of the fiscal framework, France is in a good position with an index that goes from 12 in 2021 to 13 in 2022.

The long-term rental company’s survey places Norway at the top of the countries most favorable to electric vehicles. The Czech Republic and Poland are in last place. Greece recorded the strongest progress while France showed a slight improvement. Placed in the middle of the ranking, France suffers from the inadequacy of its charging network.



Battery-powered company vehicle: who pays for the electricity?


With the development of electric cars in companies, who should pay for charging electricity as the cost of energy soars becomes a critical issue.

In the “before” world, employees who had a company car were reimbursed for their fuel by the company. But with the development of the electrification of car parks within the framework of the mobility orientation law (LOM), the question of who pays for the electricity becomes central. While oil companies already offer fuel cards that now include recharging at public terminals, recharging operators have rolled out a range of services to meet the expectations of fleet managers. This is the case for example of the French Zeplug. “Charging the electric car at the employee’s home makes it possible to take advantage of off-peak hours and therefore reduce the cost of energy for the company, recalls Émilie Méranger-Gay, marketing and B to B director at Zeplug. In a period when energy prices are soaring, it is even more relevant because society will benefit from the tax shield put in place by the government for individuals, pending concrete measures for companies.

The company therefore has every interest in financing a charging station at the home of its employee. In the case of an installation in a single-family home, the terminal is equipped with a meter and software that makes it possible to differentiate between the electricity consumed by the car and that for domestic use. “In most cases, the employee is reimbursed for his electricity by the company via our intermediary, explains Émilie Méranger-Gay. In a condominium, it’s much simpler. We invoice the company directly because the recharging point is not linked to the employee’s domestic consumption, which therefore has no costs to pay.”

Tax problem

In both situations, the installation costs of the terminal are borne by the companies, in the form of monthly payments. Zeplug invoices from €59/month, a cost that includes the terminal, its installation, support in the event of the employee’s move and a taxi service if the terminal malfunctions. Beyond 48 months, “the monthly payment is degressive”, specifies the operator which includes in its offers, the option of redemption of the terminal by the user or its dismantling to allocate it to another employee.

There remains the thorny tax issue. Since May 2019, the government has introduced a 50% reduction on benefits in kind, capped at €1,800/year, for employees who have an electric car. “This decree ends in December, but the government has announced that it wishes to extend it, although for the moment we have no visibility on the subject yet.”, says Émilie Méranger-Gay. For electricity, it is much more vague. “To encourage their employees to drive electric, many companies want to install a charging station in their homes”, indicates Clément Molizon, general delegate of Avere, who has just published an electrification guide for businesses and communities. “But fiscally, nothing is precise. The administration considers that the benefit in kind is zero if the recharge is done at the workplace, but has not yet decided on that at home. A shame when you know that 90% of charging is done either at work or at home.