There used to be an iron rule for old used cars: TÜV 1,000 Deutschmarks per year. Simple and clear. But that was quite a few years ago. Such a calculation is unthinkable today. Imagine the face of the seller of an aging electric car when presented with this price proposal. The puzzled facial expression is followed by gasping and then most likely a fit of laughter.

No wonder, when it comes to entry-level electric cars, there is an ebb in low-priced regions. Here are a few examples: The Dacia Spring costs at least 22,550 euros (without taking into account any subsidies). And otherwise? It looks pretty dull. Real small e-cars like the Skoda Citigo i.V or the Seat Mii electric have long since been removed from the lists of offers.

But you also had to pay around 20,950 euros or around 20,200 euros at the time. VW has launched another edition of the e-Up. The price: from 29,995 euros. That should be much more realistic and show how profitable electric vehicles are. That means: As soon as the subsidy programs expire, the hard cost truth comes on the table.

The small Stromer were never cheap in the sense of real entry-level models. Even the Ur-Stadtfloh Smart Fortwo EQ couldn’t be had for less than 21,940 euros. It is doubtful whether Mercedes made any money with it. The nominal successor Smart

For comparison: the Dacia Sandero is not necessarily the pinnacle of Franco-Romanian engineering, but it is a rock-solid car with a combustion engine that can be had for as little as 10,750 euros. But this type of vehicle is also threatened with a violent end.

A good price and the Euro 7 emissions standard are almost mutually exclusive. While the EU Commission puts the additional costs for meeting the emission standard at 90 to 150 euros, BMW experts assume ten times as much. In the small car segment, this is equivalent to a financial blow.

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Manufacturers are already withdrawing from this segment. The Ford Ka or the Opel duo Karl and Adam are already history, the Ford Fiesta will follow next year. The fact is: there is little money to be made with this type of vehicle.

Manufacturers are fleeing to the margins, small and micro cars are being left behind. Whether electric or with a combustion engine, if you look at the product plans of car manufacturers, SUVs will continue to play the leading role in the next few years. The bigger, the better, because you can only make real money with large and, ideally, extensively equipped vehicles.

Electromobilists object that Renault with the R5 and VW with the ID.1/2 are expected to release small BEVs in 2024/25 that will cost less than 25,000 euros. It’s a big celebration, but if you take a closer look, it only illustrates the malaise that automakers are in when it comes to electromobility. It is generally assumed that battery cells will become more powerful and possibly also cheaper by the middle of the decade. This is the only way such prices can be realized. The production costs also have to fit.

The high-wage country Germany is out, so the VW ID.2 will roll off the assembly line in Spain and the even more compact ID.1 at Skoda. But if that is already the declaration of war on the competition, then the following scenario should set off the alarm bells for all electric car bargain hunters. The number of electrified vehicles will increase significantly in the coming years. The car manufacturers are already positioning themselves to secure the urgently needed batteries for the increase in unit numbers.

One of the oldest laws of economics is the relationship between supply and demand. So when more batteries are in demand than are on the market, the price goes up. Even with small cars. And in this segment you can feel almost every cent in the sales figures. The first trends are already visible: This year, lithium-ion batteries have become more expensive again for the first time since 2010. The global crises and smoldering conflicts are not helping to keep the supply chains and thus the price stable or even allow them to fall. Whichever way you look at it, the tough times ahead are coming at the expense of buyers of small and microcars. Regardless of the type of drive. In the case of electromobility, this trend has particularly fatal consequences. Because the mobility turnaround can only succeed with affordable electric vehicles.

This article was written by Wolfgang Gomoll

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