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A German Startup Wants to Sell This Tiny Electric Car for $17,000

Germany's e.Go Mobile is now taking orders for its electric city car, the Life.

Talk of “affordable” electric cars usually centers on vehicles that cost about the same as the average gasoline car—somewhere in the mid-$30,000 range. But German startup e.Go Mobile is aiming for a much lower price point with its new EV. 

Founded by engineer and RWTH Aachen University professor Günther Schuh, e.Go Mobile is now taking deposits for a small electric car called the Life. In addition to beating the Nissan Leaf and Lucid Air for the title of most pious-sounding electric car name, the e.Go Life will be one of the cheapest cars of its kind. In Europe, it will start at just 15,900 euros (around $17,000), according to Electrek.

The Life is a city car along the lines of the Smart ForTwo Electric Drive. Like the Smart, it emphasizes compactness and maneuverability over practicality and range. With the base 14.4-kilowatt-hour battery pack, the Life will have a range of 80 miles, according to e.Go. An optional 19.2-kWh pack will increase range to an estimated 105 miles.

For now, e.Go Mobile is focusing on its home market of Germany, where incentives enacted last year include a 4,000-euro ($4,368) rebate for electric cars. The German government is pushing for more electric-car sales, both to reduce emissions and to spur its domestic auto industry to take electric vehicles more seriously. Last year, German legislators even talked of banning sales of new gasoline and diesel cars by 2030. Interested German buyers can put down a 1,000-euro ($1,092) deposit for the e.Go Life. 

It’s unclear whether e.Go would consider selling its car in the U.S., or how U.S. buyers would react to it. While the Life is very cheap, U.S. sales of other small, short-range electric cars like the ForTwo Electric Drive and Mitsubishi i-MiEV haven’t exactly set the world on fire. 

Whichever markets it chooses to focus on, e.Go Mobile also faces the same challenges as the numerous other startups looking to break into the electric car business. The success of Tesla has led to a boom in automotive startups…but that doesn’t mean designing, manufacturing, and selling cars has gotten any easier.