Electric powertrains can save small hatchbacks in Europe, hints Renault boss

  • Luca de Meo said the electrification is the future for survival of the supermini segment in the European market amidst its shrinking sales.
Renault Kwid is one of the most successful supermini model from the French car brand. The Kwid concept in picture.
Renault Kwid is one of the most successful supermini model from the French car brand. The Kwid concept in picture.

Small hatchbacks were once the most popular body style in the European market. In fact, not only in Europe but in the Asian market too small hatchbacks have earned a lot of popularity thanks to their practicality in city commuting, affordability compared to other body styles, and a wide range of options offered by the European, Japanese, and South Korean car brands. However, with the growing preference towards compact crossovers or compact SUVs, the hatchbacks are losing their market share.

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According to Renault Group CEO Luca de Meo, the small hatchbacks, or superminis as they are known in the European market are likely to see even more shrinking market share. According to him, the price of the superminis is about to grow double. However, he didn't mention that the superminis will completely be extinct in the European market.

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Talking about the small hatchbacks and the internal combustion engines' future, Meo said to Autocar in an interview that once the stringent Euro 7 emission standard kicks in the continent, the ICE-powered cars will see a massive price hike. The superminis will be the most impacted due to this.

In such a scenario, the electric-focused strategy could be a solution for the supermini segment. However, the prospect of the electric-powered superminis doesn't look right currently, but it can change for better in the future, for sure.

As Meo said, the cost of electric vehicle batteries is reducing by around 10% every year. With the smaller EVs need smaller batteries, they come cheaper in percentage terms as compared to the larger EVs. As internal combustion engine-powered small car prices increase, the equivalent EV falls. He said that the moment is approaching when the two cost curves will cross and at that point, electric cars will become more viable in Europe.

Last year, around 2.25 million superminis were sold in the European market. Despite the sales dropping, the automakers in the continent are still showing interest in the B-segment models or superminis. However, the shrinking sales will surely impact the model production strategy of the OEMs in the near future.

The Euro 7 emission regulation is expected to become effective from the end of 2025, which will make the cars across different body styles expensive, besides making them cleaner.

First Published Date: 03 May 2021, 14:48 PM IST
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