Carmakers serving Europe face a tricky problem. European Union legislation to force seriously improved fuel economy on the automotive industry is really just another way of ordering manufacturers to replace all their internal combustion engines (ICE) by 2030 with battery-only or fuel-cell vehicles.
EU rules say car and SUV makers must achieve a fleet average of CO2 the equivalent of 57.4 miles per U.S. gallon by 2021. This increases by a step through 2025 to 92 miles per U.S. gallon average by 2030.
European mass market leader Volkswagen has said it will no longer be able to make small ICE cars like the Up and Polo by 2030 because the technology required to meet the new rules is too expensive. So everybody, even at the lower end of the market, will have to buy electric. The problem is that currently even the smallest electric car, like the Renault Zoe, is about twice as expensive as the equivalent ICE version, with not really enough range to inspire confidence. And don’t even talk about ease of charging or residual values. So the race is on to find a cheap, electric city car which doesn’t aspire to be the equivalent of a traditional vehicle. Ideally it would be a two-seater, with up to 50 miles range and cost less than $10,000.
When Uniti first announced plans to make an electric car, the outline plan was expected to be a much less ambitious two-seater with a range of up to 50 miles. But when the company announced order books were open, earlier in October, the specification called for three-seats with normal car-type performance, costing close to £19,000 ($24,500) and with a range of 190 miles.
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