French car firm Citroen is launching a new ‘highly affordable’ electric car to be a European alternative to the wave of budget Chinese EVs arriving in the UK market.
The chunky and boxy new e-C3 unveiled in Paris today is expected to be priced from under £23,000 from launch, making it one of the least expensive EVs on sale – but an ever cheaper version could follow.
It promised a more affordable e-C3 by 2025 with a range of just 125 miles (200km), which it says will be priced from under €19,990 – or just over £17,000. However, it is subject to confirmation for the UK market.
Citroen’s new EV: The French car firm has unveiled its e-C3, which is due in UK showrooms in 2024 with a starting price of £23,000, pinning it head-to-head with Chinese rivals
The new zero-emissions e-C3 – the first to have a pure electric powertrain – spearheads the fourth generation of the taller, bolder and more SUV-like C3 super-mini hatchback family which has sold more than 5.6 million vehicles since the launch of the first generation in 2002.
Petrol versions will follow, though there’s still no decision yet on diesel options.
Powered by a 44kW battery and 113 horsepower (83kW) electric motor, the new five-seater e-C3 accelerates from 0 to 62mph in around 11 seconds up to a top speed of about 84mph.
Range is 199 miles, which Citroen said is more than enough for a car that will be used primarily as an urban or commuter runaround.
However, a variant with a smaller batter could be on sale by 2025 with 74 less miles of range but a starting price around £5,000 cheaper than the e-C3 available at launch next year.
That could make it cheaper than Dacia’s Spring EV supermini, which is also due to arrive on UK roads next year with a starting price around £18,000 and a range of 143 miles.
At its global unveiling, Citroen bosses repeatedly stresses its ‘European’ credentials, heritage and provenance.
The brand says it is ‘reinventing itself to aggressively meet head-on the challenges of making all-electric mobility accessible to all with the first European-designed and Europe-built all-electric B-hatchback for customers wanting the benefits of zero-emission mobility without having to pay a premium price’.
Designed at Citroen’s studio in the parent Stellantis Automotive Design Network facility Velizy-Villacoublay near Paris and built in the Stellantis group’s factory in Trnava, Slovakia, the new e-C3 builds on legacy of the Citroen Ami electric quadricycle and Oli concept SUV, it said.
It comes as a host of new and cheaper Chinese-owned car-brands – including MG and BYD – are arriving on UK and mainland European shores offering affordable electric cars against which some indigenous manufacturers are struggling to compete on price.
The chunky and boxy new e-C3 unveiled in Paris today is expected to be priced from under £23,000 from launch and offers a range of up to 199 miles
Citroen bosses hinted a version with a smaller battery and range of just 125 miles could be available from 2025. It will be priced from around £17k, making it one of the cheapest EVs on the market
Petrol versions of the new Citroen C3 will follow, though there’s still no decision yet on diesel options
A 100kW DC fast charging capability allows recharging from 20 to 80% capacity in 26 minutes
It also comes after the UK Government pushed back its original 2030 ban on pure petrol and diesel cars to 2035, following concern that cash strapped families and motorists hit by the cost-of living crisis could not afford to make the switch to EVs, plus the failure to roll out public charging points fast enough.
Will it fit in my garage?Citroen e-C3
On sale UK: August 2024
First deliveries UK: late autumn 2024
Built: Trnava, Slovakia
Price: from under £23,000 (an even more affordable 125-mile e-C3 starting from under Euros 19,990 – just over £17,000 – is set to follow by 2025)
Length: 4.01 metres
Width: 1.76 metres
Height: 1.57 metres
Ground clearance: 163mm (197mm for the C3 – compared to 135mm in previous model)
Powertrain: Pure electric
Electric motor: 113 horsepower (83kW)
Acceleration (0-62mph): circa 11 secs
Top speed: circa 84mph
Range: 199 miles
Wheels: 16-inch steel and 17-inch alloy
At 1.57 metres high (excluding roof bars), the new generation C3 is 100mm taller than its predecessor with ‘crossover-style’ ground clearance and special comfort suspension to help deal with speed bumps, kerbs, and potholes which drivers increasingly encounter in urban and suburban driving but has the same ‘footprint’ in terms of length and width.
For the all-electric e-C3 that ground clearance is 163mm, increasing to and 197mm for the petrol C3, compared to 135mm in the outgoing generation model.
It’s the first production car to feature Citroen’s new oval-shaped chevron badge on the grille.
A 100kW DC fast charging capability allows recharging from 20 to 80 per cent capacity in 26 minutes.
Standard AC recharging to 80 per cent takes around 4 hours 10 minutes using a domestic 7kW charger, or 2 hours and 50 minutes if an 11kW charger is available.
Larger 16- steel and 17-inch steel and diamond-cut alloy wheels (standard on ‘Max versions) are pushed out to the corners to signal stability and solidity, yet the car retains a compact footprint at 4.01m long, and 1.76m wide.
It is packed with safety and driving assistance features including active safety braking, lane departure warning, speed limit recognition, and measures to alert drowsy drivers.
This two-step alert first detects vehicle swaying and alerts the driver with a sound and message to ‘drive carefully’, then sounds an additional alert and message advising ‘dangerous driving’ once four sways are detected.
‘Coffee break alert advises the driver to take a break after 2 hours of continuous driving at more than 65km/h and is repeated every hour after that if no break is taken,’ the French company adds.
Claiming a ‘world first’ Citroen highlighted a ‘fun opportunity ‘for owners to personalise their car by changing four horizontal ‘colour clip’ inserts positioned around the vehicle in eye-catching locations.
Three colours – infrared, lemon yellow and polar white – are available at launch.
Citroen says standard AC recharging to 80% takes around 4 hours 10 minutes using a domestic 7kW charger, or 2 hours and 50 minutes if an 11kW charger is available
The car’ fascia – with a 10.25-inch infotainment centre at its heart – is split into two distinct levels, with the technical elements above, and a cosy fabric-wrapped ‘Sofa Design style’ section below
For the first time on a C3 hatchback, the all-electric e-C3 is fitted with Citroen’s advanced comfort suspension system as standard
A cushioned ride: Citroen e-C3 gets ‘magic carpet ride’ and ‘cosy’ fabrics inside
Inside Citroen promises a ‘homelike interior’ aided by the car’s advanced comfort suspension. The extra exterior height means 30mm more headroom for front occupants.
It adds: ‘The all-new C3 is roomier inside in almost every dimension than its predecessor, despite being only 19mm longer and 6mm wider.
‘Rear passenger elbowroom is superior by 19mm, and front by 21mm to the average market, while rear seat knee clearance is best in class, at least 20mm greater than average.’
For the first time on a C3 hatchback, the all-electric e-C3 is fitted with Citroen’s advanced comfort suspension system as standard.
Its progressive hydraulic cushions aim to ensure that everyone on-board enjoys a ‘magic carpet ride’ feeling of comfort on the road.
The car’ fascia – with a 10.25-inch infotainment centre at its heart – is split into two distinct levels, with the technical elements above, and a cosy fabric-wrapped ‘sofa design style’ section below.
The compact new multi-function steering wheel is smaller and designed to be easier to handle. It is also reach and rake-adjustable to helps to ensure that the new head-up display remains unobstructed.
Citroen says the 310 litres of luggage space behind the rear seats should be ample for most shopping trips.
First deliveries of the new Citroen e-C3 are due in Britain around autumn 2024, the brand says
The launch model coming next year is powered by a 44kW battery and 113 horsepower (83kW) electric motor
The battery-powered five-seater e-C3 accelerates from 0 to 62mph in around 11 seconds up to a top speed of about 84mph, Citroen claims
Can it take on the might of China? The e-C3 will have its work cut out as more vehicles from the east arrive in Europe between now and next autumn
Setting out its aims, Citroen said: ‘The all-new e-C3 delivers more than enough power and performance to deal with everyday driving and traffic, particularly in urban and suburban environments.’
It noted that the C3 family was ‘a firm favourite with customer’ and Citroen’s most popular model and representing 29 per cent of Citroen’s European sales volume.
In 2022, the C3 captured 11 per cent overall of the European B-segment market.
Citroen chief executive Thierry Koskas said his company aimed to grow to at least 5 per cent share of the European market noting: ‘Offering affordable vehicles has always been a major part of Citroen’s DNA.
‘But customer expectations for vehicles in the B-segment have changed, notably with the rise in popularity of SUVs and the increasing desire to drive electric in and around our cities, and it has become more challenging for European vehicle makers to meet those expectations.
‘Uniquely, Citroen is daring to do exactly that with the all-new, all-electric ë-C3 for European buyers.
‘It’s a fresh, sharp and comfortable B-hatch that is fully-equipped, specifically designed for and made in Europe, and extremely affordable with on-the-road prices starting at less than 25,000 Euros.’
Some links in this article may be affiliate links. If you click on them we may earn a small commission. That helps us fund This Is Money, and keep it free to use. We do not write articles to promote products. We do not allow any commercial relationship to affect our editorial independence.