ZOE Dynamique Intens
new ZOE boost the
so far less-than-viable sales of
electric cars in the UK
just a few
thousand units despite the
discount, the millions poured into
Leaf facility and their UK
battery plant, plus financing the
nationwide charging infrastructure
to the tune of £37 million?
CHARGING IN to how the all-electric ZOE drives, a quick look at the current
state of the EV (electric vehicle) market in the UK.
Firstly, as of 1 July, changes to the London Congestion Charge means that
from now on only the owners of zero emission and those vehicles below 75g/km
will not have to pay the £10 a day charge. Even hybrids and low-CO2 diesels
do not comply, so an estimated 20,000 drivers who were previously exempt will
now have to pay the Congestion Charge, adding up to at least an extra £2,500
to their annual motoring costs.
with customers reluctant to buy electric cars due to their price and worryingly
low driving range, especially in cold weather, BMW will enter the market this
year with their 'i' range.
The five-door ZOE
compares in size to the
conventional Clio but
underneath is a bespoke
platform with a pure
electric powertrain that
uses an electric motor
and single speed
gearbox driving the front
With a premium brand in the running this should give EVs an image lift and,
hopefully, promote confidence in their viability.
Thirdly, POD-Point, the installer of charging points for electric vehicles,
has used the current heatwave as a timely reminder that the nation's 450,000
households with solar PV systems could use the electricity generated to provide
miles and miles of free motoring.
Of course PV system do not need sunshine to operate as any light works all the
year round. However, using the electricity generated through a PV system could
take years off the payback time for solar installations, especially as POD-Point,
in association with the Government's Office for Low Emission Vehicles, will
provide one of their vehicle charging points completely free of charge to households
equipped with solar PV.
POD-Point's comparison cost saving figures, using a Nissan Leaf electric car
versus a petrol-powered one achieving 51mpg, shows that with a 10kw PV system,
an electric car owner could, over 34,000 miles, save £3,702 a year whereas a
petrol car owner would spend out £4,084 on petrol. At the other end of the scale,
a 1kw PV system would save the owner covering 3,400 electric car miles £370
against a petrol cost of £408.
So Renault's introduction of their ZOE electric-powered supermini is very timely
indeed and a potential game-changer for their electric vehicle sales
in the UK.
The ZOE joins Renault's electric vehicle line-up which is already made up of
the uniquely styled two-seat Twizy (from £6,895), the more conventional Fluence
saloon (£17,845), and the Kangoo ZE van priced at £12,995 excluding VAT. A Twizy
Cargo van is coming later this year and will cost £6,241 excluding VAT. All
these prices include the Government's Plug-In vehicle grant.
The five-door ZOE compares in size to the conventional Clio but underneath is
a bespoke platform with a pure electric powertrain that uses a 65kw (88bhp)
electric motor and single speed gearbox driving the front wheels. It also has
electrically-assisted steering and energy harnessing brakes.
ZOE comes with its own charging cable and can be topped up or recharged overnight
to give a range of between 60 and 90 miles, depending on weather and use.
is also one of the few vehicles now qualifying for exclusion from the tough
new London Congestion Charge which has hit hybrids and conventional petrol and
diesel cars that were previously exempt or that only incurred a modest daily
ZOE is one of the few
vehicles now qualifying
for exclusion from the
tough new London
which has hit hybrids
petrol and diesel cars
that were previously
Fully charged and in the right conditions, the ZOE will reach 62mph from standstill
in about 13.5 seconds and run to a maximum 84mph.
That lively performance and reasonable range has been achieved because it was
designed from the outset as a pure electric model. It is comparatively lightweight
(1,468kg), has ultra low rolling resistance tyres and an on-board heat-pump
to turn unwanted heat into energy which it can utilise.
The ZOE attracts the UK Government grant towards its cost so the three model
range of Expression, Dynamique Zen and Dynamique Intens cost from £13,995 including
the Government's £5,000 grant. There is a four-year, 100,000-mile warranty and
a lifetime warranty for the rented lithium-ion battery.
Renault has drawn up a unique battery rental-only proposition for ZOE, which
removes a big unknown cost for users, and costs from £70 per month over three
years with a 7,500-mile limit. Although the battery rental fee might seem high,
it only equates to around the same as one tank-full of fuel for a Ford Fiesta
A free domestic Wall-Box charging point installed by British Gas is included
in the price with every ZOE.
Now, say bonjour! to ZOE. ZOE looks eye-catching but not eye-popping
or quirky like its Twizy stablemate. There is room for five in a ZOE and it's
quite a useful and practical design. And it's easy to get into, fairly roomy
in front (but less so behind), and the boot (338 to 1,225 litres) is suitable
for a couple of cases or a lot of shopping bags at the weekend. There's also
reasonable oddments room throughout the cabin.
Starting is straightforward with a key-card but its silence is, after a regular
engine, rather eerie at first. It moves off very smoothly when drive is selected
the only noise comes from the tyres crunching gravel or brushing tarmac.
In town it can emit a warning sound below 18mph to alert pedestrians.
is no gearchange/clutch to delay progress or increase noise levels; just push
the accelerator and you're off. It pulls strongly thanks to the 162lb ft of
torque available from just 200rpm, and can cruise easily with main road traffic.
Top speed is 84mph but remember, the faster you drive the shorter the
Starting ZOE up is
straightforward with a
key-card but its
silence is, after a regular
engine, eerie it moves
off very smoothly when
drive is selected...
The brake pedal effort sometimes feels odd and inconsistent as the system also
recharges the battery, and the steering also felt slightly different to normal.
However, it handles safely. It also rides slightly stiffly but still comfortably,
and visibility for the driver and passengers is good.
We tried the ZOE in its Dynamique Intens level of trim (£15,195 after the £5,000
Government grant). The spec is really very good for that price and includes
such items as TomTom navigation, Chameleon charger and cables, POD-Point home
charging socket, climate control, cruise control, stability control, anti-lock
braking, touchscreen multimedia, ZE Voice (the low speed warning noise to alert
pedestrians), radio/CD, electric windows and mirrors, 15-inch wheels shod with
low-friction tyres with aero wheel trims, a tyre repair kit and a full set of
Driving range is the big issue for the majority of would-be electric car owners
but commuters, the ideal target audience, rarely cover long daily journeys outside
the ZOE's scope.
The charging time, depending on the kw power level of the charging point, can
take as little as half an hour to 80%-charge the battery; most owners charge
overnight at home although more and more people will now take the opportunity
to charge up either at work (if a point is available) or at one of the ever-increasing
Government-financed 1,700 public charging points. Some locations, mainly shopping
centres and restaurants, now offer free charging.
Official figures say the ZOE will cover 130 miles on a full charge. Renault,
with a fair amount of honesty, say that in cold winter weather the range is
around 60 miles on a full charge and in warmer weather the real-life range is
around 90 miles.
a comparatively short 30-mile rural route we saw the available range drop only
slightly from its initial 60-mile projection. For a conventional commuting day,
and providing you could top up or recharge the battery as necessary, the ZOE
offers a real alternative to conventional superminis.
Renault, with a fair
amount of honesty, say
that in cold winter
weather the range is
around 60 miles on a full
charge and in warmer
weather the real-life
range is around
And with the likes of BMW now entering the electric car market, such vehicles,
backed by huge amounts of UK Government funds, will gain a much higher profile
so perhaps it's time to switch on to at least considering battery power.
Against: Firm ride with road noise intrusion, £70 monthly battery rental up
to 7,500 annual miles (and up to £93 per month for 12,000 miles), unproven long-term
future for electric vehicles.
Reasons to 'go electric' are the ZOE's low running costs and zero taxes and,
of course, the affordable purchase price. It also has a practical design and
it's comfortable and easy to drive.
Renault ZOE Dynamique Intens
Top speed: 84mph | 0-62mph: 13.5 seconds | Range: 60-90 miles
Power: 88bhp | Torque: 162lb ft | CO2 0g/km