At the end of 2013, the Renault Morocco group was betting on 100% electric by marketing a whole range of “zero emission” models, ranging from the Twizzy quadricycle to the Zoé city car, via the electric variants of the Kangoo and the Fluence. The ace. Attempted too soon, the first attempt proved inconclusive, resulting in a handful of sales.
Hardly scalded, the French manufacturer returns to the charge almost a decade later. It is that in the meantime, the data of the equation have changed. In Europe, the electric car has entered the buying habits and its sales are experiencing a real explosion, to represent in 2021 more than 11% of the entire market.
Far from being so successful, the “battery-powered” automobile is certainly only in its infancy in Morocco, with registrations amounting to a trickle. And even, they only concern the high-end segment, where the offer begins to bud (Audi e-Tron, e-Tron Sportback, BMW i4 and iX, Porsche Taycan…), boosted by the exemption from the proportional stamp duty or “Tax on luxury cars”. However, it is at the other end of the spectrum that the Renault Morocco Group intends to attack the BEV (Battery Electric Vehicles) market.
Small size, big ambitions
Thus, from next November, Moroccan roads will see the Spring, Dacia’s first 100% electric model, with which the “cost-breaking” brand wants to give a new kick in the automotive anthill, this time in terms of electric cars. “Dacia has revolutionized the automobile with its offer at the best price-performance ratio. The Spring marks a new revolution : a car that combines the codes of Dacia with the advantages of a 100% electric engine”, enthuses Fabrice Crevola, Managing Director of the brand in Morocco.
The weapon of disruption is therefore this small city car 3.73 m long, or ten centimeters more than a Kia Picanto, but 30 less than a Renault Clio.
History of surfing the canons of the moment, this reduced size dresses in a panoply of SUVs with a high silhouette, significant ground clearance, muscular lines and wheel arches adorned with black plastic. The set, rather pleasant (especially with the optional colored inserts), will arrive in Moroccan dealerships adorned with the brand’s new logo.
Inside, on the other hand, we find the universe of the “old generation” Dacias. Understand: a presentation without much fantasy, solid plastics but reminiscent of “design to cost”, and imperfect ergonomics, as is the case with the window controls placed on the central console.
Tribute paid to its size XS, the Spring does not perform miracles on the habitability side, comparable to that of a mini-city car. The narrow interior (1.50 m wide) can only accommodate four passengers, and those occupying the rear seats will have to deal with limited knee space. They will still be able to slide their feet into deep cellars placed on the front seats. No surprise either on the trunk side, which cubes a modest 270 liters of spare wheel in place. The small electric makes up for it with very decent equipment. Depending on the finish, the equipment includes four electric windows, six airbags, autonomous emergency braking, manual air conditioning and a 7-inch touchscreen infotainment system, compatible with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.
The main course is nestled under the hood, which houses a 45 hp and 125 Nm of torque electric motor. It is powered by a lithium-ion battery pack, placed under the rear seat, with a capacity of 26.8 kWh.
The manufacturer promises a maximum autonomy of 305 km in urban cycle WLTP, and 130 km in the combined cycle, still according to the WLTP standard. As for the times of recharge, they naturally vary according to the types of chargers. To go from 0 to 100%, it is thus necessary to count more than 13 hours on a classic domestic socket, 8h30 on a reinforced socket, a little less than 5 hours on the Wallbox (whose installation could be supported by the brand ), and about one hour on fast public chargers CCS, still rare in our regions.
“Given its essentially urban vocation, the Spring will suffer less than other electric cars from the lack of a charging infrastructure. We still hope that the network will develop quickly, in order to allow a real take-off of the zero-emission car”, specifies Fabrice Crevola. The Renault Morocco group will also contribute its stone to the building: a partnership will soon be born with a specialized operator to install a certain number of electric charging stations.
(Relatively) compressed prices
“In Europe, the Spring is the cheapest electric city car on the market. It will occupy the same position in Morocco, with the aim of giving real impetus to the electrification of the Moroccan car fleet,” says Fabrice Crevola.
Admittedly, faithful to its pedigree, the Spring places its relatively compressed prices as its first argument. However, the latter are less spectacular than those of its congeners: they vary from 190,400 DH for the “Cargo” finish, intended for utility use and without a rear seat, to 238,500 DH for the “Expression” version, with equipment the most complete. Between the two is the intermediate “Essential” finish, which should make up the bulk of sales.
These prices, close to those of the top category with internal combustion engines, are justified by the high cost of electric technology, combined with the absence of any government incentive measure, contrary to the practice in many countries. “Electrical technology is an expensive technology, and its rapid development and accessible to all can only be achieved with a strong commitment from the government with concrete measures, such as subsidies for the purchase of electric vehicles”, argues Fabrice Crevola.
“The car tax exemptioncurrently the only incentive, it’s not enough to encourage the transition to green mobility”. And in any case, the invoice requested by Spring remains, by far, the most competitive on the market: the least expensive 100% electric car marketed here is the Chinese compact SUV Seres 3, which is displayed at a little less than 400,000 dirhams.
While waiting for a possible boost from the state, Spring will only be able to count on its own qualities to convince its future customers, whom Dacia Maroc will recruit among professionals and individuals alike. Targets designated within the fleets: large “eco-conscious” companies, ministries and public companies, as well as the liberal professions. On the private side, the idea is to attract households that are already “multi-motorised”, but also technophiles who are sensitive to environmental issues.
The city as a favorite terrain
We slipped into the shoes of these “early adopters” to take the wheel of the electric Dacia for a few days as a preview. A little adaptation time is necessary to find its marks, between the elevated driving position and the steering wheel without height adjustment. Next steps: turning the ignition key starts the electric motor, which is signaled by a simple “OK” light on the dashboard, and place the rotary dial of the transmission on D. And off you go!
From the first tens of meters, the Spring surprises with its liveliness. The energetic starts and the tonic accelerations (thanks to the instantaneous torque and the featherweight), combined with a soft direction and a reduced turning circle, make it a formidable tool for sneaking into the Casablanca jungle. All without sacrificing comfort, served by the flexible damping and the softness of the suspensions which cash without complaining the bleedings of the roadway and other speed bumps. And although disturbed by rolling noises, the silence of the electric motor changes the heady purrs of a Diesel.
By branching off towards the urban freeway, the results are more mixed. Limited power, direction a bit fuzzy, generous cash movements… As its radius of action suggests, the Dacia watt is not made for long journeys, nor for active driving. At the wheel, we enjoy more of a zen driving, watching out of the corner of the eye the remaining autonomy and the energy recovery indicator on the dashboard.
And if the “Range Anxiety” is watching you, engage the “Eco” mode which reduces the power to 30 horsepower and the maximum speed from 125 to 90 km/h, thus raising the figures of autonomy. And to smile again, remember that 40 DH is enough to fill up. On a car with a combustion engine, this amount will hardly give you the right to the pitying smile of the gas station attendant…