Home » Tesla, Volvo EX30 Show There’s A Future For Affordable Electric Cars

Tesla, Volvo EX30 Show There’s A Future For Affordable Electric Cars

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Good morning to all, except for the wildfire smog currently blanketing the great state of New York. Yes, it’s as bad as you’ve heard. If I wanted to get this level of exposure to toxic particulate matter, I would borrow one of David’s cars. (Okay, maybe not the i3.)

Since today’s a good day to stay inside, keep your windows closed and read The Autopian, our morning news roundup will cover the new Volvo EX30‘s important business proposition; the latest with the Detroit Auto Show; and yet more news in and out of China’s auto industry. Strap on your respirators and let’s go for a ride.

Vidframe Min Top
Vidframe Min Bottom

Volvo Gets It: The New EVs Are Too Damn Expensive

Upsized Ex
Photo: Volvo

I may need to apologize in advance for how hyped up we all are for the new Volvo EX30, which made its global debut at an event in Milan this morning. It’s small! It looks great! It seems like it’ll have good electric range! It comes in yellow! And Volvo pulled the rare move of announcing its $34,950 (before destination and such) price tag right out of the gate. We’re still waiting on a price for the Volkswagen ID.Buzz and that thing feels old enough to buy its own cigarettes.

Make sure to read Thomas’ deeper dive into the EX30 and its specs. But you should know there’s an important business case Volvo is trying to pull off here: making EVs that are aimed at younger buyers, first-time buyers and those who aren’t the mega-rich.

Price creep is a trend we cover all the time here. Thanks to pandemic-related supply chain issues, our collective desire for bigger cars, the need to juice profits to fund the electric transition and just outright greed, the average new car price is almost $50,000 these days and electric vehicles go even higher. The EX30 is meant to be an antidote to that, reports the Wall Street Journal:

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Volvo hopes that the bigger [EX90], starting at more than $109,000, will compete with vehicles from Tesla and German premium brands Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Audi for well-heeled suburbanite buyers.

The smaller EX30, meanwhile, is aimed at more cost-conscious consumers, such as college grads shopping for their first new car. Volvo hasn’t yet revealed the price tag for the smaller vehicle, but Chief Executive Jim Rowan said during an earnings call in April that the model would take Volvo “into a lower price point than we’ve ever been” for SUVs.

The company hopes the new SUV can help it address one of the biggest challenges conventional carmakers face in their electric shift: To meet ambitious EV goals over the next few years, they have to offer more affordable cars. 

Emphasis mine there, because thank you. More affordable cars! Imagine that. The plan isn’t without its risks, of course; Volvo’s Rowan is worried about a price war spurred by Tesla or EV sales taking off so fast they cut into already-low profit margins for these things. (I think that last fear is a bit unfounded; the charging network still has a ways to go here for these things to reach scale.)

But I am hoping more automakers join Volvo in offering compelling cars that don’t have to be $65,000. They’re going to have to if they want these EVs, in particular, to catch on. [Editor’s Note: I’m particularly excited about the ~$30,000 Chevy Equinox EV. -DT]

The Tesla Model 3 Is Also Now Dirt-Cheap

The Tesla Model 3 Performance, not a Level 3 autonomous vehicle
Photo: Tesla

You know what is incredibly cheap these days? The Tesla Model 3. As of this week, it finally qualifies for all, and not just half, of the $7,500 EV tax credits. And if you live in California, with that state’s discounts you could get a Model 3 in the mid-$20,000 range, reports Reuters:

New battery rules went into effect in April that lowered the credit of the Model 3 Standard Range Rear Wheel Drive and Long Range All-Wheel Drive to $3,750. Tesla last week on its website said that all versions of the Model 3 again qualify for the full credit. The government confirmed the change on its fueleconomy.gov website.

A Model 3 starts at $40,240 and the price may fall to $25,240 when the $7,500 federal tax credit and another $7,500 from the California tax rebate kick in, depending on income and other requirements. Toyota’s Camry is listed at $26,320 and higher.

The subsidy change, along with aggressive discounts, should help Tesla prop up sales of its mainstay Model 3, whose demand has been weighed down by a major revamp this year, economic uncertainty and increasing competition.

Good Lord, that’s tempting, isn’t it? The Model 3’s been around a while but it’s still a great drive with the best charging network there is. I still think Tesla’s vulnerable by having such an aging lineup, but for now, consumers are the winners with these aggressive price cuts.

The Detroit Auto Show Attempts A Comeback, Again

Img 2267
Photo: Newspress

Auto shows were struggling even before COVID-19 hit with automakers focusing their energies on standalone events and online debuts so they didn’t have to literally share a stage with the competition. But that struggle was especially acute for the poor North American International Auto Show, once the biggest news event of the year for folks like your hardworking Autopian staff. (We used to wear suits and ties to the thing! Unfathomable today.)

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The Detroit show in recent years had suffered from a loss of attendance from European and luxury automakers, and post-pandemic, it moved around the calendar quite a bit from its former commanding perch right at the beginning of the year. Granted, nobody loved being in Detroit in January anyway, but the show did lose some impact by switching to a warmer month.

It’s still on for September this year. And while 2023 has already meant something of a comeback for live events in general, this Detroit show also means more auto brands are coming. From Automotive News:

The Detroit Auto Dealers Association, which runs the show, said Wednesday that it expects more than double the 13 brands that participated in last year’s show. General Motors, Ford Motor Co. and Stellantis were the primary automakers featuring brands in the show, with many European and Asian brands absent.

This year’s show schedule includes media days on Sept. 13-14, the charity preview Sept. 15 and public event Sept. 16-24.

Other additions this year will in include an indoor EV test track for attendees and a global mobility forum for executives, which will run concurrently with media days.

Ford, GM and Stellantis will feature their full brand portfolios this year, organizers said. The show expects “multiple” vehicle debuts, but did not give a figure for how many had committed to the show so far.

[…] “This year’s show represents the next step in its evolution and in the evolution of the industry itself,” said Detroit Auto Show Chairman Thad Szott. “Automotive technology is changing so rapidly; how do we make people comfortable with it? We’re planning for a show that not only embraces and educates about this new technology but offers an immersion into it. And with twice the number of brands participating, there’ll be no shortage of engaging with it.”

If there’s news to be had, you know we’ll be on it. I do miss this event kicking off the new year like it used to, but I do not miss chiseling snow and ice off my car’s door handles to get around.

BYD Has Everything It Wants, Except America

Byd Han Ev
Photo: BYD

It’s no secret that China’s BYD is starting to take over the world—except here in America, where 27.5% tariffs on Chinese-made cars and general political tensions keep it at bay. For now. But the company’s growth trajectory in 2023 is really stunning, Bloomberg reports in a new deep-dive that I recommend reading in full. That story says BYD cars are taking over “from Sydney to Delhi and even Montevideo, Uruguay.”

The Shenzhen-based company has been on a tear in China, dethroning Volkswagen AG as the nation’s biggest-selling car brand during this year’s first quarter—a remarkable disruption of Volkswagen’s dominance there since at least 2008, when data from the China Automotive Technology and Research Center became available. One reason for the turnabout: In that quarter, BYD accounted for 39% of the sales of new-energy vehicles (electrics or hybrids)—or 12% of all passenger-car sales—in China, the world’s largest auto market, based on data from the China Passenger Car Association.

BYD continues to expand internationally at a blistering pace. Although the US remains off-limits for political reasons, the Chinese company recently entered Mexico, Spain and the UK. This month it plans to try its luck in Italy, kicking off with a launch party in Turin, the birthplace of Fiat. After first exporting new-energy vehicles to Norway in 2021, the company is now selling such cars from Singapore to Sweden—a real feat for a Chinese consumer brand.

Now, three-quarters of BYD’s revenue still comes from its own home market, which is very high. And growth in China is starting to slow a bit. But it’s moving overseas quickly and not just with sales but with potential factories as well in places like Thailand, France and Vietnam.

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But as much as BYD’s blowing up, I have been wondering: are the cars any good? According to Western market owners getting into them for the first time, the answer seems to be… yeah, actually.

Michael Barnden, a retired teacher living in Adelaide, Australia, made the switch in November to a BYD Atto 3, a five-seat family-friendly electric SUV. The 74-year-old is no stranger to cleaner cars, having bought a Hyundai Ioniq plug-in hybrid about four years ago. When he read the features of the Atto 3, including heated seats and a 480km driving range, he snapped one up. “It feels so welcoming to drive,” he says. “I actually look for excuses to get in the car.”

In New Zealand, the Atto 3 was named the Motoring Writers’ Guild’s Car of the Year in 2022. This was the first time a Chinese brand won, according to guild President Richard Bosselman. BYD’s car beat 11 finalists, including Tesla’s Model Y, Kia’s EV6 and the Polestar 2.

“BYD was probably the last to release into the market, but it made quite a strong, immediate impact,” Bosselman says.

We need to test some of these cars here, and soon. It just won’t be on U.S. roads.

Your Turn

What’s the most and/or least you’ve ever paid for a car? For me, the most was either my last Mini Cooper S or my Mazda 3 hatch, both of which I got for under $25,000. As for the least, $3,000 is my Craigslist sweet spot. Or at least it was before all the car prices got silly.
 
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Scott
Scott
11 months ago

Not everyone has $7,500. in tax liability each year, and is thus able to avail themselves of the federal tax credit on an EV. Some might argue that it’s precisely these not-1% folks who ought to be incentivized to purchase EVs, rather than dual-six-figure-income DINKs bopping around in their Model Ys and Xs all over LA.

But that’s JMHO, as a single/non-DINK fellow.

Which prompts me to ask: did I read somewhere that next year EV buyers would be getting a $7,500. discount on a qualifying EV at the point of purchase instead of having to be wealthy enough to later use a $7,500. tax credit? I gather this is how it works in (most of?) Europe, though I don’t recall hearing anything to this effect when the infrastructure bill was passed.

Or is this simply more internet hogwash?

I ask for obvious reasons, and because if it’s true and you CAN get $7,500. off of a (pre-Highland) Model 3 if any are still left at the start of ’24, I might manage to squelch my gag reflex re: Mr. Musk and opt for a Model 3 if they really can be had for mid-20s.

Last edited 11 months ago by Scott
JJT554
JJT554
1 year ago

’73 Olds Cutlass Supreme $300 (in ’86 from my sister and brother-in-law)
’23 VW Golf R DSG $48,435 (MSRP + 299 Doc)

Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
1 year ago

China, phase 3 sounds a lot like malaise era GM.

Stef Schrader
Stef Schrader
1 year ago

Least: My parents gave me the Lancer and the 411 was a “please take this, we’re done” situation from another team who was VERY not into aircooleds.
Most: $1000? I think? for the OG Porschelump.

I swear to parsh, I’m probably going to impulse-buy a damn Cayenne as soon as I get another job, ugh. My cars are fine. They still work. Two of them are race cars, though, and I want a parsh to tow my parsh. I’ve only been talking about that for what, at least a decade now? It’s past parsh time.

Lightning
Lightning
1 year ago

Most: $10K for a 1996 Subaru Legacy in Jan. 2000. Inflation corrected, that’s $18K. Least: 2003 Subaru Legacy $2100 in 2019. In between in price were a Prius ($7.2K) and Subaru Loyale ($4K). I still have both Legacys and intend to keep them forever.

Last edited 1 year ago by Lightning
changedmynameasIworkinadealershipandsomeofourbrandsarentgreat
changedmynameasIworkinadealershipandsomeofourbrandsarentgreat
1 year ago

34k USD is still very expensive for a first car. Unless you are earning 100k or so. I only make about 53k a year and financing a 20k KIA that 90 bucks a week or so after my 5k deposit (over 4 years) doesn’t seem like much but I paid it out early and that extra 90 bucks in my bank each week is noticeable. Hate to be an old fart but seriously buy an interesting car for like 5k and put the rest into saving for a house, I wish I had started doing that 15 years ago.

ScottyB
ScottyB
1 year ago

Volvo ex30 – Impressed. If the dealer experience is good (as in they don’t try to MSRP++ everyone $10-$20K for the honor of buying a Volvo, killing off all interest in this, Volvo might find itself in a strange new position as a volume-production brand in the US.

Tesla Model 3 – Would not drive one if someone gave it to me free because

  1. It’s so generic looking it hurts.
  2. I don’t want people assuming an asshole.

BYD – Good looking car with a very K-pop name.

Chevy Equinox – I’d need time on the couch of a good shrink to know why, but seeing any Chevy crossover makes me irrationally angry. Maybe it’s because I’m old enough to remember when Chevy make good looking cars instead regurgitating a hodge-podge of what everyone else is doing.

Chris D
Chris D
1 year ago

The back-massaging seats have a real live masseuse inside them. They get paid as much as the people that make the parts and assemble them in the car factory.

Jalop Gold
Jalop Gold
1 year ago

TL:DR – Free (in 2019) for a 1998 Isuzu Hombre with 140,000 that needed a clutch. $26,000 (in 2017) for a 2016 Sienna with 23,000.

Like others, I’ll include the list.

1995 Saturn SL2 ($500 in 2004). 100,000 miles, needed brakes and tires, sweetheart deal from my aunt who was upgrading and didn’t want to deal with it so I drove 8 hours to get it and learned stick much better on the drive back. Amazing car, kept it until I got married and wife hated it at 240,000 miles. Sold it for $800 to a neighbor, it went to 270,000 before it hit a bus and got totaled.

2000 Ford Ranger extended cab RWD ($3,000 in 2010). I don’t remember mileage, maybe 120,000? 3.0 V6, stick, crank everything yet somehow XLT? Meh. Sold for $3400.

2003 Subaru Outback ($8,000 in 2012). For the wife, 120,000 miles. First time buying from a dealer, traded in her V6 Solara. Dealer said he had replaced head gaskets; he had not. It was fine. Sold as part of a deal paying for home renovations, first time selling for less.

2002 Subaru Outback ($5,000 in 2013). This was purchased from the mechanic who actually did head gaskets. 1??,000 miles. Wife wanted a 2nd car that was auto, this was the only one I ever bought for me. Cloth seats killed my back (her leather ones were fine!), but it was much better for baby(ies) than the Ranger.

2002 BMW 325ci ($3200 in 2017). Needed a stick to stay awake in traffic, and front seats that felt good. Man did it deliver! Bought from a sketchy dude on Craigslist I kept finding more issues. Made me fall in love with BMW, but that was unrequited. Sent away with blown engine after 3 years and 35,000 unfaithful miles. Still have the title and haven’t been paid as buyer went to prison…

2016 Toyota Sienna XLE Premium ($26,000 in 2017). Cashed out stocks, made the wife and kids happy. Still going strong 90,000 later, with almost no issues. 10/10 for minivan life!

1998 Isuzu Hombre (nothing, in 2019). Loving called “Death-mobile.” 5-speed, 2.2L, RWD. The cheapest S-10 interior possible. Needed a clutch and tires, then a wheel, then a heater core, and so, so much more. Got it from a sick friend who had 4 cars and I help a lot; his apartment complex was going to tow it since it couldn’t drive. He gave it to me but would borrow it often, offered it to him for free once I needed it gone. Sold for $1,800 right before Covid shot up prices.

2006 BMW 330i ($4,500 in 2020). 161,000 Got it February 26, 2020. Wasn’t even a month before my business went remote, then moved, and I no longer got to hear the wonderful exhaust inside the parking garage. E90 much easier to live with the E46, 6-speed < than 5, engine is best BWM ever made (come on Thomas!), in the best version 3-series ever. Too bad only 1 year in USA. I searched for months to find this one. Currently at 197,000. I need to replace valve cover gasket and shocks.

Debating plunking down $38,000 for a Model 3. Would be my first car payment ever. Any thoughts on the cheap Tesla interior?

MATTinMKE
MATTinMKE
1 year ago

The bit about Tesla pricing is spot on. I was close to buying a 3 a couple months ago, but couldn’t get past the shady price representation on their website.

If you can’t afford it without the rebate, you shouldn’t buy it. You might not get the rebate.

Myk El
Myk El
1 year ago

Least I paid for a vehicle was $1200 for my ’66 Plymouth Sport Fury (in 1995). That’d be just shy of $2400 now. Most I paid was $25,500 for my 2015 Nissan Frontier (SV, 4×4 V6). That was purchased new.

Boulevard_Yachtsman
Boulevard_Yachtsman
1 year ago

The most was the $11,500 I had to plunk down in 2016 for my 2012 Volt with 40K on it. Still going strong!

Leaving out a couple of junkers i got for free, the least I actually paid was $70.00 at a farm auction for a half-way decent 1980 Ford LTD sedan in 1993. The wind chill was -30F that day and there was just a handful of people left in attendance. When the car wouldn’t start, no one would even bid the $100 opening. The auctioneer finally quit doing his thing and asked if anyone would give 50 bucks for it. Someone did, then I bid $60, then they bid $65, then I bid $68.50, at which point the auctioneer just flatly said “No, we’re not slicing a car that thin”. So, I said “Alright, $70”, and he immediately said “Sold, now let’s get out of here”. It was the last item of the sale. Started right up the next day when the temperature was warmer. I drove it for about a year and sold it for $600.

Chris D
Chris D
1 year ago

I bought a ’77 Honda Civic for $1.00, replaced the engine (260.00 used from Japan) and clutch, smogged and registered it and ended up just shy of 500.00 in all, including the gas to tow it back to my house. What a great college student that car was… the most was my current ’07 Lexus SC430, which I bought for $13,700 from a private party, with just 52,000 miles on it.
Every car has a story or two, or three…

Thevenin
Thevenin
1 year ago

The EX30 is going to be a Big Deal. Maybe not as big a seller as the Equinox EV (thanks to tax credits), but still. For the $35k model we get in the US, it’s ~275 miles EPA, 26.5 min 10-80%, 4030 lbs, 0-60 in 5.3s, RWD, and hatchback dimensions.

I’ve been saying for years that the US market needs a Kona EV (~34k) with double the charging speed and a little more pep in its step. Here it is.

Dave Garland
Dave Garland
1 year ago

Most: Somewhere around $8K for a new late ’80s Mazda B2200 (last year before fuel iinjection). Least: $100 for a thoroughly used Eddie Bauer ed. Ford Aerostar.

Last edited 1 year ago by Dave Garland
Dinklesmith
Dinklesmith
1 year ago

The most I ever paid for a car was a 2018 Chevy Colorado for $22k. The least was a shitbox 1998 Pontiac Grand Am with 250k miles. I paid $250 and it lasted 6 months

Ben
Ben
1 year ago

Most: ~$48500 for my custom-ordered truck.
Least: $5300 for my 15-year-old Prius.

Polar opposites in so many ways, but that’s why they complement each other so well.

Cerberus
Cerberus
1 year ago

Least: $500 (’84 Subaru GL wagon) or under $1050 in today’s money. Most: just under $30k including delivery (’22 GR86).

Stig's Cousin
Stig's Cousin
1 year ago

Is Volvo going to actually make money on the ex30? I like the idea of affordable EVs, but I don’t want to see another unsustainable loss leader like the Bolt.

Dinklesmith
Dinklesmith
1 year ago
Reply to  Stig's Cousin

Mark Ruess said it cost GM about $25k to make the Bolt and that was at a UAW factory in Michigan. This is Bolt EUV sized and manufactured in China with Chinese batteries so I imagine they’ll squeak at least a little profit out of it

Chris D
Chris D
1 year ago
Reply to  Stig's Cousin

Yup, made in China. It will be, apparently, about the size of the China-market Smart #1.

From Wikipedia: “An infrared sensor on the steering column tracks the driver’s eye and head movements, including how fast or slow they blink and how often. A front-facing camera watches the road to detect erratic driving. Another sensor monitors the steering wheel.”

Another sensor detects pedestrians, so you won’t hit one when opening the door. I guess the PRC has gotten pretty good at making sensors that monitor people.

Stig's Cousin
Stig's Cousin
1 year ago

Least I ever paid for a vehicle was $0.75. It was a ’93 Suburban that hadn’t moved in a few years. It needed a battery, battery cables, and radiator hoses, but it drove well once those things were fixed. It was beat up (rust holes, torn upholstery, no AC or heater), but functional. I drove it for around a year before the engine blew, at which point I sold it to a scrapyard for $500.

Framed
Framed
1 year ago
Reply to  Stig's Cousin

Did you negotiate the Suburban down from $1?

Ranwhenparked
Ranwhenparked
1 year ago

Lowest – $2200, 1984 Lincoln Town Car
Highest – $31,000, 2016 Dodge Challenger (SXT Plus, obviously, you weren’t getting an R/T for that).

I have a personal hang-up over the $30,000 figure, call it a phobia or whatever, just have a hard time mentally crossing that, the Dodge stickered over $35k and it took several hours of back and forth to get it to where I was more comfortable (which was still $2k over what the dealer had advertised it at, and also quoted it at over the phone).

Going to need to get over it at some point though, my employer just raised the minimum MSRP for their mileage reimbursement program to $29,950, my current daily was purchased for $27,500 last year, when the rule was $24,000, and they’ve sort of grandfathered it for now so I don’t have to buy two new cars in back to back years.

Fuzz
Fuzz
1 year ago

Low – $800 CAD 1991 Chevy Corsica 3.2l. Kept it until the fuel lines rusted out.

Lowest – $1 CAD 1989 Mazda MPV, but I don’t really count this as I bought it from my dad when I was unemployed, more of a gift. Drove it until rust won the battle.

High – $4600 2002 Chevy S-10 4.3l. Current, rust has not won yet, but is putting up a good fight.

That’s basically the extent of my vehicle purchases. I’m a cheap bastard.

Eddie Wuncler
Eddie Wuncler
1 year ago

My brother sold me his 2000 Camry back in 2018 for $440. It’s green, got a CAI, a red TEQ logo and green Japanese rising sun flag on it. It was the perfect first car for me and I still love it

Taargus Taargus
Taargus Taargus
1 year ago

Might as well enter the whole history (mine and wife’s included)

1989 Geo Prism LSi – $750 (LOW) (used)
1996 Saab 900 Turbo – $3200 (used)
1999 Toyota Camry – $2300 (used)
2011 Hyundai Accent – $13,400 (new)
2012 Suzuki SX4 – $19,700 (new)
2012 Toyota Corolla – $20,000 (new)
2018 Subaru Forester – $24,300 (HIGH) (new)
2012 Hyundai Elantra Touring – $5300 (used)
2020 Chrysler Voyager – $21,000 (used)

The Forester is the high, but was arguably a screaming deal as a brand new car with 0% financing. The Geo Prism LSi is the low, because it was a Geo Prism that had nearly dissolved entirely by my ownership in 2005.

Last edited 1 year ago by Taargus Taargus
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