2013 Renault Zoe: A Stylish, Normal Complement To The Nissan Leaf?

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Renault ZOE electric car live photos

Renault ZOE electric car live photos

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At last week’s 2012 Geneva Motor Show, Renault unveiled the production version of its 2013 Zoe Electric hatchback. 

The fourth all-electric car from the French automaker, the subcompact Zoe is quickly causing a stir in Europe thanks to its impressive specifications and low price. 

Renault has been absent from the U.S. market for many years, so it’s unlikely we’ll ever see it go on sale in the U.S., but would the Zoe the natural compliment to the Nissan Leaf?


Starting at around $28,850 before incentives in Europe, the Renault Zoe is certainly one of the cheaper electric cars we’ve seen. 

While that price doesn’t include battery cost -- you have to rent your battery separately -- it does price the Zoe at a comparable price to other subcompact gasoline and diesel cars on the European market. 

A point to note of course, is that prices  rarely translate well between continents. Even if the Zoe made it to the U.S. -- which we’re pretty certain it never will -- we’d expect it to be priced competitively.

Sub-compact charm 

About the same size as a Ford Fiesta, the Renault Zoe ZE fits firmly into the growing subcompact market segment. 

Inside, the Zoe’s interior looks fresh and modern, with a similar level of appointment to the current Nissan Leaf. Instead of the strange hockey-puck gear lever however, there’s a more conventional floor-mounted shifter and lever-operated parking brake. 

Renault ZOE electric car interior

Renault ZOE electric car interior

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In short, inside and out, the Zoe looks normal.

Decent Performance, Range, Charging

While the Zoe is no sports car, Renault says it can handle the 0-60 dash in around 8 seconds, putting it on par with many other cars in its class. 

As for range, Renault refreshingly honest. Under ideal conditions, Renault believes 130 miles is possible per charge, while hard driving in poor weather should yield no less than 60 miles per charge. 

Perhaps more attractive however, is the ability of the Zoe to recharge itself quickly using an on-board charger capable of charging at up to 43 kilowatts, equivalent to a 100 percent charge in between 30 and 60 minutes. While this is slightly less powerful than the Direct Current charging offered on the Nissan Leaf, the Zoe doesn't require an expensive external charger to charge this quickly. 

Instead, all it needs is access to a public charging station capable of providing three-phase power at 240 volts. That's considerably more powerful than current Level 2 charging stations -- which normally charge electric cars at rates between3 and 7 kilowatts depending on what the car can receive --  but does pose an interesting alternative for future charging stations. 

Predictable Operating Costs

Unlike the 2012 Nissan Leaf and other electric cars on sale in the U.S., the 2013 Renault Zoe doesn’t saddle owners with the cost of an expensive battery at point of purchase. 

Instead, Renault rents customers the Zoe’s battery pack on a monthly basis, with the cost dependent on how many miles you expect to drive annually.  As an example, Renault is offering a 6,000 mile per year battery lease contract at around $110 per month, taxes included. Whether that kind of figure would be applicable to the U.S. we couldn't venture a guess.

While many prefer buying the car and battery up-front, not everyone can afford the extra money that entails. 

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Comments (7)
  1. $110 per month to rent a battery! Add the cost of the electricity, and more money if you go over 6,000 miles per month. You can buy a similar ICE vehicle for less, and spend less on fuel. It might work for European prices if one doesn't drive much though. Not in the USA.

  2. Yeah, it is not easy to compare this car to the Leaf in the US (or against any car in the US) but in Europe I think this car is majorly exciting. For the same price in the UK you'd get a Renault Clio with a 75hp four-cylinder... the Zoe will get to 60 five seconds quicker than that car, and look awesome doing it :) If I were in the market for a car this would be top of my list.

    I do find the 6,000 mile limit very low however. You could easily do 15-20,000 miles in this car if you wanted to... But I'm sure they realise that and have fair charging (monetary!) planned.

    Charlie -

  3. I would pay LEAF price for ZOE as it has better range and on-board charger. Nissan will miss an opportunity if they don’t bring this to the US market.

  4. The Zoe and Leaf were parked next to each other in the green tent at Geneva. The reality is that there is not much difference in size. The bonnet/hood on the Zoe is shorter and the cabin space is actually pretty similar. The boot/trunk on the Zoe is surprisingly big.

    IMHO Renault has a smash hit on their hands. It's a great car. They just need to market it properly, which I am sure they will. The fact that it can be plugged into cheap, common three phase outlets (with the right portable EVSE of course) is a real bonus.

  5. I still waiting for my 2 seater electric car

  6. I'm still waiting on a 2 seater EV, like the one they made a movie out of. Its makes all the sense in the battery world, that we make a 2 seater that looks like the miata, no huge thrills just a vechical that gets you to movie theater or food store, bank, just for the quick trip. Not these four door cars we dont have the tec for YET.

  7. I own a Leaf, but would love an affordable e-roadster the size of a miata.

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