Electric Car Prices Drop In Europe, Will U.S. Follow?

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Peugeot iON Electric

Peugeot iON Electric

When Renault launched its Zoe electric car at the 2012 Geneva Motor Show with a starting price of little over $21,000 (after the U.K's plug-in car grant), more than a few jaws hit the floor.

After all, that's easily the cheapest proper electric car on sale in Europe, and even looks good in the U.S. where prices are typically lower.

Now, French duo Peugeot and Citroen have announced (via TheChargingPoint) they're slashing the prices of the Mitsubishi i-based iOn and C-Zero electric cars. With European EV prices falling, will the U.S. follow?

Price is still one of the dividing factors concerning the popularity of electric cars. For some the vehicles are investments that allow them to save money in the longer term and cut down on pollution in the meantime, but other consumers are put off by the high prices of cars like the Nissan Leaf and Chevrolet Volt, even after government and state incentives are taken into account.

With combined sales of only 171 units in 2011, Peugeot and Citroen have reduced prices of the iOn and C-Zero by a significant $11,000 in the U.K. With buyers also able to make use of the country's near-$8,000 plug-in car grant, each car now costs around $33,661 at current exchange rates.

That's still more than the $29,125 the larger, better-equipped U.S. version of the 2012 Mitsubishi i costs, before you even take federal and state incentives into account - but hugely less than it was, and cheaper than the Leaf sells for in the U.K.

So is this what Nissan, Chevy and Mitsubishi need to do to increase demand of the Leaf, Volt and Mitsubishi i in the States?

A similar $11,000 discount would certainly make a few more buyers sit up and take notice, and in many cases would make the cars cheaper than the equivalent hybrid or diesel car in the class. That's quite some incentive.

However, electric car sales in Europe are relatively slow, even compared to the U.S. Those price drops should help stimulate demand, which is less of an issue in the States.

If the price drop works though, it'll certainly give credence to the theory that price is one of the deciding factors in electric car sales.

Peugeot and Citroen had just better hope it sells enough cars before Renault's cheaper, higher-quality and better equipped Zoe hits the European market...

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