New electric Citroën C3 could cost as little as €25,000

Compact EV gets 320km range and goes on sale in Ireland late next year

The new, electric, Citroen e-C3 has arrived in Ireland

The new, electric, Citroën e-C3 has arrived in Ireland. Well, it would be more accurate to say that a, singular, new electric Citroën e-C3 has arrived in Ireland. This dark red hatchback, with its SUV styling overtones, is a prototype. The same car was shown off to the world’s media last week, and arrived in Ireland for a brief flying visit along with Citroën brand chief executive Thierry Koskas.

Clearly, then, this is an important car for Citroën, and although we’ll have to wait till almost this time next year before it actually goes on sale here, it’s already starting to make waves. That’s because Citroën is proclaiming a €25,000 price tag (specifically €23,300 in Europe) for a car with a 320km range. Until now, such relatively low prices for a reasonably-specified EV have been the preserve of Chinese car makers. So how is Citroën able to do it?

“There’s no secret, no magic” Koskas told The Irish Times. “It’s down to several things. First, it’s a new platform which has been designed from the ground up for electric power. Second, we’re introducing a new battery technology, which is a lithium-iron phosphate battery, and we are the first in the Stellantis Group to do so. And then we have optimised all of the technical elements of the car, we have reviewed everything that is in the car.”

Koskas highlighted the e-C3′s new ‘Citroën Heads-Up Display’ which, instead of projecting onto the windscreen, projects onto a slim panel mounted above the steering wheel but below the windscreen. By using a simple projector and mirror, it’s simpler and cheaper to make than a TFT digital screen, but gives the appearance of being high-tech.

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The new, electric, Citroen e-C3 has arrived in Ireland

Then there’s the fact that while the e-C3 will be — as Koskas proudly proclaims — built in Europe, it’s built in the cheaper end of Europe, in a factory in Slovakia. “That’s probably one of the most efficient factories we have in Europe” says Koskas. “This is the factory where we make the current C3 hatchback, and if you compare the new e-C3, then the time we need to make one is cut by 25 per cent, so we have simplified a lot of the manufacturing.”

Koskas points out that Citroën will also simplify the e-C3′s lineup. There will be just two trim levels, and a choice of two batteries — a 44kWh lithium-iron phosphate one with a range of 320km on a full charge, and a smaller version, with a 200km range and a potential €19,900 starting price, which will be even more affordable when it comes on stream.

The e-C3 won’t be alone either. Koskas showed us a glimpse of some images of a new seven-seat electric SUV model, based on the same platform. So, with a small, affordable electric hatchback and a matching seven-seat family-friendly version, is this Citroën pivoting to becoming a Dacia rival?

“I get this question quite often” Koskas responds with a broad grin. “But I don’t want to be compared with Dacia, even though I have a great deal of respect for what they do. But we, Citroën, we are a company with more than 100 years of history, and we have a lineup that covers a lot more customers, from this e-C3 to the C5 Aircross and the C5 X and then our light commercial vehicles. So we will not be in front of Dacia, but we will be up against them with some of our products.”

The e-C3 is a departure from the existing model of that name, being chunkier and taller, with an increase in ride height, although as Koskas points out it’s very definitely still a hatchback, and not an SUV. It gets a 113hp electric motor, driving the front wheels, and has a top speed limited to 135km/h. The 0-100km/h comes up in 11 seconds. The battery can be recharged at up to 100kW from a DC high-speed charger, which will top it up to 80 per cent in about 26mins.

The e-C3 won’t have the affordable electric car corner of the market all to itself when it arrives. Dacia is about to update its small, affordable Spring which will finally come in right-hand drive, while Volkswagen, along with Skoda, is also hard at work on a potential sub-€25,000 EV model. And that’s to say nothing of what the Chinese brands are going to bring to the party.

The e-C3 will certainly have a great deal of appeal, though. It’s handsome on the outside, and far-better appointed inside than you’d expect of a model with such a bargain price. the heads-up display works well; the 10.25-inch touchscreen is the same as you get in more expensive models; and the seats, fitted with Citroën’s ‘Advanced Comfort’ cushions feel much more comfortable than those of rival products. We haven’t been able to sample the ‘Advanced Comfort’ suspension, but it’s the same as fitted to the e-C4 and the C5 X, so that bodes well. Space in the back seats is adequate, rather than generous, and the 310-litre boot is on the small side, but when one remembers the price tag, all of that seems of lesser import.

Will it really be priced at €25,000 in Ireland, though? On that, Citroën Ireland’s senior staff aren’t prepared to quite bet the heating money, but assuming that the grants and VRT rebates don’t change between now and when it arrives, it’s certainly very likely.

Neil Briscoe

Neil Briscoe

Neil Briscoe, a contributor to The Irish Times, specialises in motoring