First Renault Zoe Electric Car Delivered In France

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2013 Renault Zoe electric car (European model) at 2012 Paris Auto Show

2013 Renault Zoe electric car (European model) at 2012 Paris Auto Show

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Just over two years since the first Nissan Leaf was delivered to its Californian owner, one driver has the keys to the French equivalent.

The Renault Zoe electric car is a class size smaller than the Leaf, but like the Nissan it represents the first major push from Renault to sell a dedicated electric car.

Taking delivery of the first Zoe was French Minister for Industrial Recovery, Arnaud Montebourg.

Unlike Renault's larger Fluence, the Zoe is not based off an internal combustion production car. Renault sells the Clio subcompact in Europe, but the Zoe uses a dedicated platform. Sadly, it's also not due in the U.S.

The Zoe unique among current electric cars in costing the same as--or less than--combustion equivalents, once local incentives are taken into account. With a government incentive of 7,000 Euros ($9,200 at current exchange rates), Zoe pricing starts from only 13,700 Euros in France ($18,000).

For comparison, the brand new Clio model now on sale in France starts from $18,800. That makes the Zoe's pricing unprecedented in a market where electric cars typically cost thousands more than other vehicles.

It's worth noting though that, like Renault's other electric vehicles, buyers will still pay a monthly battery rental fee, upwards of $110 a month--so for some drivers doing lower mileage, the cost of running it might prove marginal.

Current European leader

Renault currently sells more electric cars in Europe than any other company--albeit still in small volumes compared to markets like the U.S. and Japan.

The French company had sold over 16,600 electric vehicles by October 2012, holding 28.2 percent of the electric vehicle market--not including Renault's smallest offering, the Twizy electric quadricycle.

The competitively-priced Zoe should add to that tally further. Its 22 kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack gives it a suburban range of 62 miles in cold weather, and 93 miles in warmer conditions. Official European figures quote a range of up to 130 miles.

An 87-horsepower, 162 pounds-feet electric motor provides drive, while the standard 'Chameleon' charger means buyers can charge at different outputs, with charging times between 9 hours, and as little as 30 minutes for a fast charge. That recently helped the Zoe set a new electric car distance record.

It isn't hard to see the Zoe breaking into the European market in a way the Leaf hasn't really achieved.

How much so remains to be seen--but with chic styling and a tempting price, it could be one of the most significant electric cars yet.


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Comments (16)
  1. @ Anthony Ingram: When writing about the price of this car and comparing it to other cars and EVs it needs to be mentioned that this comes battery not included; that needs to be rented.

    Still a very promising offering though, that might score where the Leaf has largely failed so far. Battery renting makes the car more affordable upfront and takes away lingering doubts people might have about battery durability. Also the on-board fastcharger concept is exciting since it could make setting up infrastructure for EVs that much easier.

  2. Ah, very well spotted Chris - not sure how I missed that out. I'll incorporate a line into the article pointing this out.

  3. I think not selling the car with it's battery in order to show a lower base price is deceptive. Sure the price looks low but your tied to a lease agreement that you must agree to or you can't have the car. Leaf owners at least have the freedom to fully own their car.

  4. By your logic ICE cars should be sold with their lifetime of gas included.
    The affordable starting price and incremental "energy/battery payments" is an excellent model for allowing the public to adapt to this new, temporarily more expensive, technology.

    Now all that needs to happen is mass distribution and prices will come down more. (Hint - Bring this car to Australia!!!)

  5. No gas is fuel just like electricity, selling an electric car without its battery would be like selling an ICE car without a gas tank. The car is basically being sold without the part that powers the motor, no car company building ICE cars sells a car without a gas tank!

  6. ...Only if the Gas tank cost $12,000 and gasoline went for pennies per day. As it stands, it's a trade-off which is financially equivalent to buying a gas tank up front and paying for gas as used.

  7. When an ICE blows it's engine the replacement costs are similar. I knew a person who had the engine blow in his Porsche Boxster the replacement cost, $18,000.

  8. I think you're adherence to analogy strictures has you missing the point. If you want to price electric cars in the way that ICEs are priced, that being by removing a major operational cost, gas and batteries are somewhat equivalent (e.g. I suspect that $110/mo plus electricity is comparable to monthly cost of gas).

  9. @ CDspeed, on the one hand I tend to be suspicious of battery lease schemes because I fear once people are tricked into the model carmakers will stick to it as replacement of the secondary maintenance income they are used to from ICE vehicles, even if batteries get affordable.

    On the other hand: batteries are still expensive and there is some logic in the argument that the battery equals a lifetime of gas, albeit that the cost of electricity needs to be subtracted from that of course, so offering without battery makes EVs more comparable to ICEs.

    Also to make BEVs practical batteries need to get larger, probably about 100KWh. That sort of batteries are not going to be cheap any time soon, another argument for the lease concept.

  10. @ Chris, I do see that leasing addresses battery life span as well. But leasing the battery is still only a solution to address an issue that will not exist forever. So yes it will help in the short term, I'd like to see the lease offered as an optional service so the consumer has the freedom to choose what they want.

  11. Just dreaming here, but it'd be neat if different size batteries fit an electric car, car owners lease batteries, and they were able to change battery sizes like cell phone plans. Need to take an unusually long trip? Jump up to the larger size battery for a month.

  12. You are right to an extent but at least if someone buys the 'car' from you in three years time, they know that if the battery falls below 80% of original capacity/range it will be replaced, you also get unlimited 24/7/365 breakdown cover, this also includes running out of 'juice' they will take you to the nearest charging point free of charge - UNLIMITED - in the UK, the Leaf gets this for the first year after that they charge you, of course most EV owners will only let this happen once or twice, because we all learn quickly. I'd love a Leaf but can't afford here in the UK, although some discounts coming through now, will probably wait for my Zoe order to be filled.

  13. Have just ordered Zoe in UK can't wait for delivery. Its an affordable car and will be available to the masses. The more electric cars that are out there the more they will become acceptable to everyone.

  14. £100 GBP per month for the battery lease for 10,000 miles a year; and the lease lasts forever so has to passed on even of you're the 7th owner after 10 years making the car worthless after even 5 or 6 years. Beware anyone investing their own cash and not leasing this.

  15. I suspect there are inaccuracies in your statement. Yes, 7th generation owners might need to lease a battery, but, to continue the ICE batteries above, 7th generation ICE owners still have to buy gas. Assuming the battery lease includes replacement when required, I don't see how it's such a bad setup.

  16. Also it's very likely that by that time the battery leasing will be significantly cheaper and/or the battery capacity will be greater, so the situation is continually improving compared to an ICE.

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