Renault CEO Luca de Meo has doubts about future EV price parity, Stellantis considers moving manufacturing out of China, Honda kills the base trim of the Civic. All this and more in today’s issue of The Morning Dump.
Welcome to The Morning Dump, bite-sized stories corralled into a single article for your morning perusal. If your morning coffee’s working a little too well, pull up a throne and have a gander at the best of the rest of yesterday.
Renault Skeptical Of EV Price Parity
While some auto analysts have been predicting EV price parity with combustion-powered cars, Automotive News Europe reports that Renault CEO Luca de Meo doesn’t see parity happening soon.
“I do not see this parity getting close,” he told reporters on the sideline of the Paris auto show.
De Meo said that eight years ago the industry was expecting the cost per kilowatt-hour of battery power to fall by $100 within five years, but prices are not there yet.
The CEO said only so much fat can be trimmed from EV pricing when such a large percentage of a car’s cost depends on the battery. From Automotive News Europe:
While he mentioned that it’s possible that electric vehicles may become cheaper as charging networks improve and battery sizes can come down, EVs remain expensive propositions due to heavy reliance on pricey materials — this isn’t particularly surprising. We’ve heard similar sentiments for years. [Editor’s Note: Automotive News Europe also mentions Luca de Meo’s quote: “From an environmental point of view, having vehicles with batteries of 150 kWh to 200 kWh is simply environmental nonsense.” I actually agree with him here. I think cars are too big, and I think hundreds of thousands of EVs carrying around an extra 1,000 pounds of battery that they rarely use is silly. -DT]. Of course, supply chain issues stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic have also played a part in messing with EV price parity predictions, so component costs in the next few years could be anyone’s guess.
Stellantis Considers Moving Manufacturing Out Of China
Bloomberg reports that Stellantis is thinking of pulling out of Chinese manufacturing altogether. It’s not a surprising move considering the failure of Stellantis’ Jeep joint venture earlier this year, and there is some sound reasoning behind it.
“If we push ahead with this strategy — which is our strategy right now — then we don’t need plants in China,” Tavares told reporters at the Paris auto show, adding that the company could instead import vehicles made in Europe or the US. “I am not sure they are indispensable.”
Stellantis is mulling the potential exit as more established foreign auto brands have struggled to maintain their position in China’s market, raising questions about their long-term future in the country.
An asset-light approach in China sounds like a good plan given how Chinese automakers are really dominating the local market. For instance, look at Buick. It was kept by GM in the great bankruptcy cull due to strong sales in China, yet Chinese-market Buick sales have now been in a death spiral for years. Add in talk of protectionist EV credit policies in Western countries, and the advantage of Chinese manufacturing seems to be vanishing.
Honda Culls The Base-Model Civic
Hey, remember when the Honda Civic was considered a cheap car? Yeah, not anymore. As reported by Motor 1, Honda’s killing the base LX trim of the Civic sedan for 2023, meaning the entry point to the Civic range is the Sport trim costing $25,745 including a $1,095 freight charge. Ouch.
For those keeping track, that’s $2,100 more than the 2022 LX trim cost, and equipment upgrades aren’t exactly grand. While 18-inch wheels, smart key entry, and an eight-speaker stereo are big highlights, that’s about it aside from paddle shifters, sport mode, and some cosmetic bits. While the new Civic is brilliant, it’s just not great value compared to the rest of the compact car field.
This culling of the LX trim fits with Honda’s recent strategy. The CR-V crossover now starts with the Sport trim and costs a bundle more than the old model, while the HR-V subcompact crossover also moved further upmarket with its recent redesign. When production is limited, it makes sense to crank out higher-margin cars for the sake of profit. While it’s theoretically possible that some sort of entry-level Civic below the Sport trim will surface as industry shortages ease, don’t hold your breath.
The 2023 Corolla Hybrid Gets A Price Cut
You know what compact car is really great value? The 2023 Toyota Corolla Hybrid. The basic LE Hybrid trim has an MSRP $1,250 cheaper than last year’s model, now costing $23,895 including a $1,095 freight charge. A big price reduction normally indicates decontenting, but the 2023 Corolla LE Hybrid actually offers more equipment than the 2022 model.
For starters, there’s a new eight-inch infotainment system with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, handy for navigating from your smartphone. What’s more, occupants front and rear can charge devices through any of four USB-C ports. Bigger 16-inch wheels replace the 15-inch wheels on the old car, and owners will get a ten-year free trial of basic telematics. Oh, and output is up 13 horsepower and 10 lb.-ft. to 134 horsepower and 156 lb.-ft. of torque.
However, things get really interesting if you’re willing to spend an extra $1,400, because then the Corolla LE Hybrid gets all-wheel-drive by virtue of a second motor on the rear axle. Power output stays the same, but this clever reactive electric all-wheel-drive system does more than just help you set off in snow. Toyota claims that it can kick in to power the rear wheels while cornering, reducing understeer. However, it does come with a fuel economy hit. While front-wheel-drive hybrid models are rated at 47 mpg combined, all-wheel-drive models are only good for 44 mpg combined. That’s still excellent, but the front-wheel-drive model’s 47 mpg combined for $23,895 is phenomenal. Either way, kudos to Toyota for keeping things cheap and cheerful.
Whelp, time to drop the lid on today’s edition of The Morning Dump. Happy Tuesday, everyone. While automakers seem reluctant to come up with good, logical naming schemes for their EVs, a vichyssoise of alphanumerics isn’t the only way forward. Think of all the dead brands scattered about the corridors of automotive history, wouldn’t some of them make great EV sub-brands? I’m wondering which dead brand you’d bring back for EVs and why.
Lead photo credit: Renault