Renault SA’s electric R5 E-Tech city car is betting on price and tech offerings like a digital voice assistant in the fight for Europe’s mass market as Chinese competitors move in.

Priced from about €25,000 ($27,100), the Renault 5 E-Tech is the first car to roll off the carmaker’s new EV platform that aims to cut costs and attract consumers balking at high prices. The new version of the 1970s boxy classic is set to deliver an initial 400 kilometers (249 miles) of driving range on a single charge.

Starting deliveries in September, the R5 is going up against the €23,300 electric Citroën ë-C3 that’s made by rival Stellantis NV. The vehicle is a key step in Chief Executive Officer Luca de Meo’s ongoing overhaul of Renault, which has seen the company reduce cumbersome ties with partner Nissan Motor Co. and carve out its combustion-engine vehicle business.

Aside from price and software, the company has added flourishes like a baguette basket to the R5 E-Tech, with assembly and battery production in France. There’s a range of bright colors, some with sparkle effect.

“Reviving this legend is De Meo’s most important launch to date,” said Pierre-Olivier Essig, an analyst at AIR Capital in London. “It’s one small step for Renault, but a giant leap for the car industry — one model that could finally convince consumers to go electric in a big way.”

The new EV technology has already helped reduce the model’s development time by a quarter. De Meo is also in talks with potential partners such as Volkswagen AG to cooperate on the underpinnings to further reduce outlays as the industry seeks to hold its ground against the likes of BYD Inc. and a price war kicked off by rival Tesla Inc.

For the R5, whose batteries will be made in France as of the middle of next year, 85% of the car will be recyclable, while its batteries can be repaired. It also features bi-directional charging to feed electricity back into the grid. Such measures may help to lower the cost of running the vehicle, with EVs so far falling short of expectations they’d be cheaper to run.  

The EV transition has stumbled in recent months after some governments like Germany revoked buying incentives and vehicle prices remain high, contributing to Renault’s decision to shelve a planned initial public offering of its Ampere EV arm. France has sought to make the costly cars available to low-income households, offering leases for €150 a month or less. 

The new R5 is “at the heart of the battle to reinvent the European industry against competition coming from the east and the west,” de Meo said in a statement.

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