Why the R$143,000 electric Kwid is the “popular car”

Renault Kwid E-Tech: pre-sale for R$ 142,990.

Photo: Renault / Publicity

Renault delivered on what it promised five months ago, when it confirmed that it would sell the Kwid E-Tech in Brazil and that it would be the cheapest electric car on the market, just like in Europe with its Romanian brother Dacia Spring.

Last week, Renault started receiving bookings from Kwid E-Tech for R$ 143,000 – a pre-sale price guaranteed only until July, when the car imported from China only begins to be delivered here. With this, the manufacturer claims that it can now “democratize” Brazilian access to electromobility. It will be difficult, considering that cheaper is not necessarily something affordable.

In this sense, the Kwid E-Tech is what can be called a “popular car”, as it retains the poverty of an entry-level car, has a rustic finish and compact dimensions, but with the electric powertrain it costs more than twice the equivalent with 1.0 flex engine, whose price varies from R$ 60 thousand to R$ 68 thousand – which is also not cheap given the low purchasing power of most Brazilians.

Less tax but still more expensive
Like any other electric car imported into Brazil, the Kwid E-Tech is exempt from the 35% import tax levied on vehicles with a combustion engine.

As it weighs less than 1,400 kg (977 kg is the official weight) and has the lowest energy consumption of any other car in the country, at only 0.44 megajoule per kilometer (MJ/km), the electric Kwid is framed at the lowest rate. possible IPI tax, currently 5.7%, the same percentage applied to cars with a 1.0 engine.

Renault Kwid E-Tech: the cheapest electric car in Brazil.

Photo: Renault / Publicity

In other words, the imported Kwid E-Tech pays in Brazil the same taxes as national 1.0 cars. Even so, it is more expensive here than in Europe, because the weight of all Brazilian taxes on the price (IPI, ICMS and PIS/Cofins) reaches 25%, higher than the 16% to 18% in European countries, where cars electric utilities also receive tax incentives.

In Portugal, the basic Dacia Spring sells for €17,800 and the Confort Plus version, with a level of equipment equivalent to the Kwid E-Tech that arrives in Brazil, costs €19,300, or R$98, 4 thousand at the current exchange rate.

Whether there or here, anywhere in the world electric cars are more expensive than their combustion counterparts, but in Brazil, land of the worst most expensive cars in the world, prices are even higher, there is nothing “democratic”, even when they are at the cheapest level on the market.

insignificant market
Since 2013, Renault has been trying to include Brazil in its global bet on electrification, with timid sales of models such as the Twizzy quadricycle and the compact Zoe, which now join the Kwid E-Tech and the electric versions of the Master and Kangoo SUVs, which arrive on the second semester.

The country has so far made a negligible contribution compared to the 450,000 electric cars that Renault has sold worldwide in the last ten years – and has announced plans to launch ten new BEVs (Battery Electric Vehicles) by 2030.

New Renault Zoe E-Tech: the brand’s best-selling electric car.

photo: Renault

Renault’s commercial vice president in Brazil, Bruno Hohmann cites a survey indicating that 62% of Brazilians intend to buy an electric model and 90% believe that there are still few options in the domestic market.

The reality looks quite different. If it is true that 62% of Brazilians would like to buy an electric car, few in fact can satisfy that desire, no matter how many versions there are already here.

It is true that sales of electric vehicles more than tripled in Brazil between 2020 and 2021, but the volume of just 2,860 units represented an irrelevant 0.14% of the total light vehicle market last year.

This year, in the first quarter, 1,291 BEVs were already licensed – more than half of them costing over R$ 400 thousand -, increasing the participation to double, 0.34%, and the annual volume should be between 5 thousand and 6 thousand, the which remains insignificant in a projected market of 2 million cars and light commercial vehicles.

Hohmann recognizes the irrelevance of the Brazilian BEV market, but indicates that some projections indicate that this could change in the coming years, with estimated volumes of 80,000 to 200,000 electric vehicles sold in 2030 and a “turnover” to 50% of sales from 2030 onwards. 2035

The executive predicts that Kwid E-Tech will have three types of audience here: campaigners of environmentally friendly technologies, families with more than one car in the garage that want an agile urban model, and companies, especially those that have to comply socio-environmental commitments – Hohmann mentions that currently 45% of BEV sales in Brazil are for corporate use.

The Kwid E-Tech to be sold here underwent some adjustments applied by Renault’s Brazilian engineering, starting with an increase in the power of the electric motor, which reaches 65 hp (48 Kw), against 45 hp (33 Kw) of the European Dacia Spring .

By the standards used in Brazil, the electric Kwid achieved a range of 265 km in mixed cycle and 298 km in urban use. According to Renault, work has been done to increase the recharge through regenerative braking. About 70% of the battery charge can be recharged in nine hours on a 20 A/220 V household outlet, or 40 minutes on a fast charger.

For Renault, now “the account closes”
Presenting a series of calculations to justify the economic viability of the cheapest electric car in the country, Renault insists that now “the account is closed” to buy a BEV around here, bets that Kwid E-Tech will open access to electromobility for the middle class.

The strategy is to offset the much higher purchase price with a much lower cost of ownership, starting with fuel costs.

Taking into account gasoline at R$ 7.30 per liter and electricity at R$ 0.66 per Kwh, the Kwid E-Tech spends the equivalent of R$ 0.06 per kilometer in urban use, while its equivalent with a 1.0-liter flex engine consumes R$ 0.48/km.

Considering the total cost of ownership, which in addition to fuel also involves expenses with maintenance, taxes and insurance, Renault calculates that running 20,000 km per year, the Kwid E-Tech costs R$ 1.30/km, exactly the same value of a hatch flex 1.0.

Renault Kwid E-Tech: sales also by subscription.

Photo: Renault / Publicity

To make the purchase more palatable and reduce the fear of low resale value, the Kwid E-Tech has been included in the Renault On Demand long-term rental program. The model can be rented for up to four years, with a reserve amount of R$999, a down payment of R$9,990 and 48 installments of R$2,999, for a total value of R$154,941.

It is almost R$ 12 thousand more expensive than the spot price, but the subscription includes all expenses with maintenance, taxes, documentation, licensing and insurance.

It’s still expensive. As a comparison, in France the twin Dacia Spring is sold from €17,390, a value that becomes quite affordable with the government’s ecological bonus of €4,695, which reduces the entry to €2,500 on a lease of 48 monthly fees of €89.98.

Without expectations
No mention was made of sales expectations for Kwid E-Tech in Brazil, but one can imagine no more than two hundred looking at the performance of the most licensed BEVs in the first quarter of this year.

From January to March, 152 units of the Chinese JAC E-JS1 were sold, so far the cheapest electric car in Brazil, with two versions of R$165,000 and R$180,000.

The Fiat 500e, worth BRL 256,000, totaled 132 license plates in the quarter, against 62 for Renault’s other electric option, the Zoe, worth BRL 205,000, which will continue for sale.

Interesting to note that more expensive options perform better than Zoe. The R$287,000 Nissan Leaf sold 102 units in three months. In the same period, 69 Porsche Taycans worth R$ 615 thousand were sold.

Although it is the cheapest electric on the market, in its price range the Kwid E-Tech will face the challenge of competing for a level of buyer who can pay more to have something better.

• Renault and Oroch turbine

With a redesigned exterior, new interior and the option of a powerful 1.3-litre turboflex engine producing 170 hp (with ethanol), Renault hopes to put Oroch in a better position in the sub-segment it invented seven years ago, when it launched a compact double-cab pickup derived from car (in this case, the Duster) with more space than competitors like Fiat Strada and VW Saveiro.

Oroch was soon followed by the larger Fiat Toro, which has so far largely dominated the subsegment of compact-medium pickups, which is gaining more and more competitors, such as the future Chevrolet Montana and the Volkswagen Tarok project.

Last year, while the revamped Toro with a 1.3-liter turboflex engine with 185 hp was the second best-selling pickup in the country with almost 71,000 license plates, the aging Oroch sold six times less, 12,000, even behind the block of medium-sized diesel pickups. more expensive, such as Toyota Hilux and Chevrolet S10.

New Renault Oroch Outsider 2023.

Photo: Rodolfo Buhrer / La Imagem / Renault

So far, Renault has not been able to take advantage of the boom in pickup truck sales in the country, which already represents 18% of the light vehicle market. The idea is to change that with the new Oroch, positioned with its own cool Duster identity, as a mixed-use vehicle, for work and personal transport.

In terms of dimensions and prices, Oroch is in the middle between Fiat Strada and Toro. There are three versions, two with a 120 hp 1.6-liter naturally aspirated engine and a six-speed manual gearbox, Pro (R$ 105,800) and Intense (R$ 111,300); and the top-of-the-range Outsider (R$ 137.1 thousand) has a 170 hp 1.3-liter turboflex engine and an eight-speed CVT automatic transmission.

• Distorted market
In a market distorted by the lack of electronic components (semiconductors) that affect some more than others, the ranking of best-selling brands had drastic changes in the first quarter of 2022.

Volkswagen has so far been the worst hit, with sales down 56% from January to March compared to the same range in 2021, resulting in a loss of 7.3 percentage points of market share from 17.3%. to 10%. The brand dropped from the second to the fifth position in the ranking this year.

With that, GM/Chevrolet secured second place (13.4% share), behind the increasingly leading Fiat (21.1%). Toyota rose to third place (10.81%), by a tiny fraction ahead of Hyundai (10.78%), which achieved its highest quarterly share in the Brazilian market, even with a 14.3% drop in sales in the period.

Among many declines in performance, the highlight was the robust 122% growth of Peugeot, which with 9,800 cars sold entered the ranking of the ten best-selling brands, in tenth place in the quarter, with a share of 2.63%.

Close behind, in 11th position, Caoa Chery also continues to expand sales well above average. It sold 9,600 vehicles from January to March, an increase of 52.5% and a share of 2.56%, exactly double what it had a year earlier.

• Motorcycles have a fast pace
The motorcycle market is faster than the car market this year. Production at the Manaus Industrial Pole totaled 327,100 units in the first quarter, up 37.8% compared to the same period in 2021, according to data released by Abraciclo, the manufacturers’ association.

In the assessment of the entity, the demand for motorcycles remains heated in the country and the projection is to produce close to 1.3 million units this year, which represents an expansion of 8% over 2021.

• Mercedes and Comil export to Gambia
Mercedes-Benz and bodybuilder Comil will export buses to The Gambia for the first time. There are ten vehicles for urban transport in the African country, which should start operating in the first half of the year. The front-engine OF 1730 chassis are receiving Svelto bodies.