On 17 October last year, Citroën kept its promise by unveiling the fourth generation of the C3, an electric car at an affordable price, without compromising on style, equipment, comfort or autonomy. Although it will also be sold with a combustion engine, the new C3 was designed from the outset as an electric car with the ambition of supporting the French energy transition.
The second phase of the energy transition
The European Commission has decided that from 2035, only cars with a 100% electric engine will be sold. This imposed technological change applies to all manufacturers and represents a total paradigm shift for the automotive industry, at an unprecedented speed. This decision, imposed by Europe, is part of the fight against CO2 emissions, of which the transport sector accounts for around 17%, in order to combat global warming and comply with the commitments made, in particular at the COP21 in Paris, to try to limit this warming to an acceptable level without suffering too many consequences. This decision is an inescapable fact that defines the framework for the future of the automotive industry and must therefore be implemented, whether it is accepted or not.
Electric cars now represent 20% of the market in Europe and are much more expensive than their thermal counterparts, which requires government support to encourage this transition and make electric cars more accessible. As the number of electric vehicles increases, the network of charging stations is being extended, particularly in France, where all motorway service stations will be equipped with fast-charging stations and, by 2025, there will be fast-charging stations every 60 km on the motorway network, in order to respond to the fear of limited autonomy on long journeys. However, since these large transhumance movements represent only 5% of the annual use of the car, terminals must also be developed in urban and suburban areas to enable owners of electric cars to recharge their vehicles, especially those who do not live in individual houses, i.e. just under 44%* of the population. This change in the automotive era must therefore be accompanied by a different charging network where consumers can, must, charge in their company car parks during working hours or while shopping.
The new Citroën C3 therefore fits into a context more favourable to electric vehicles, where consumers are more open, the grid is constantly developing and the price of oil tends to break records. While the recent COP28 for the first time signalled a transition away from fossil fuels, the price of oil is expected to rise regularly as Europe becomes less dependent on it and consumption falls. The conditions for wider acceptance of electric cars are now in place, so the time is ripe for manufacturers to offer electric cars that are affordable without compromising on autonomy. Citroën is taking up this challenge with this fourth generation C3, which, in addition to making electricity accessible, aims to enable the energy transition to enter a second phase of massive development, thanks in particular to more accessible prices.
Electricity made easy
Designed and developed from the outset as an electric car, the new Citroën C3 is the first car manufactured in Europe to democratise this new technology, just as the 2CV popularised the car in its day.
In order to achieve a price of €23,300, excluding state aid, Citroën has had to meet enormous challenges in terms of style, design and logistics, without compromising on design, comfort, equipment and, of course, autonomy. In addition, Citroën offers a 44 kWh battery based on LFP chemistry for this new C3, which allows a much more practical and comfortable electric "life" for its occupants by combining several advantages:
LFP batteries are more durable by accepting more recharge cycles, they maintain their capacity longer than NMC batteries.
LFP batteries are more consistent in charge cycles, with a much more consistent power output over the charge range.
LFP batteries are also safer and will not overheat like NMC batteries, resulting in a much lower risk of fire.
LFP batteries can be 100% recharged without fear of capacity loss, unlike NMC batteries. This is a huge advantage, as customers of the new C3 will be able to fully recharge their battery and therefore have a greater range (320 km), while those of the R5, for example, will have to limit themselves to 80% recharges under worth using up their battery more quickly.
LFP batteries are also much easier to recycle, an extremely important point.
Finally, LFP batteries are much cheaper than their NMC counterparts, making it possible to compensate for their lower energy density by using a larger battery for the same price.
In other words, with a range of 320 km, the new Citroën C3 electric meets the needs of users who will be able to recharge once a week, with an average daily distance of 50 km. It can therefore be easily recharged at home thanks to the free Wallbox and its charging capacity of up to 11 kW in three-phase or 100 kW in direct current allows it to be recharged very quickly in 26 minutes to 80% in direct current only.
A predominantly electric engine
Sales of electric cars will continue to grow now that conditions are more favourable and the price of electric vehicles is falling, thanks in particular to Citroën, which is the first to take the lead, but which will soon have serious competition from Renault and Volkswagen, which are announcing competitors to the C3 around €25,000 in the coming months.
All the signs are that the Citroën C3 will not be an additional engine allowing customers to choose between thermal and electric, but rather the main engine and therefore the one that will account for the majority of sales. Its highly accessible price, as well as its qualities of habitability, style, comfort and autonomy, allow it to play the role of the perfect second car in the home, which is indeed that of the versatile B-segment saloons in which this fourth generation of the C3 is registered. It is no coincidence in Citroën's presentation that this new C3, conceived and designed as a pure electric car, should represent the majority of sales and allow the population to make the leap to electric, especially since it is now more accessible to them. In fact, with a retail price of 18,300 euros, excluding the bonus, the new ë-C3 is less expensive than the current C3 1.2 Puretech 83 Plus version (2,000 euros less), with much more power and an equivalent or even superior level of equipment, since the new C3 has double suspension, which the current one does not have, adding the comfort and smoothness of electric driving, as well as the savings linked to recharging.
The new Citroën ë-C3 thus makes electric cars accessible, but also aims to make them the majority in terms of sales. This is indeed the objective of the brand, which also offers a Puretech 100 thermal version for those for whom electric is not really an option. The new C3 is, first and foremost, an electric car that aims to democratise electricity in Europe and make it even more widespread.
In conclusion, the new C3 is an important car for the brand because it is the successor to a successful third generation that Citroën intends to continue. But the new C3 is also important because it should make it possible to launch a second stage of the energy transition, with a massive uptake of electric cars, which should represent the majority of sales and convince as many people as possible to switch to electric power.