Would You Want To Buy This Subcompact Electric Car? (Video)

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Back in January, our dear leader fearless editor dubbed the Renault Zoe "Europe's most important electric car".

For him, that's partially because the Zoe was built from scratch, and because it has no gas-powered sibling. For others, proof of the Zoe's significance came a few months earlier, when the Zoe shattered the record for distance traveled in an electric car in a 24-hour period.

Now that the Renault Zoe is quietly winding its way toward French electric car-enthusiasts, Renault has launched a new video that shows off some of pint-sized ride's high-tech features. A quick review of the clip's claims reveals that, on the whole, there's plenty to get excited about:

  • "The design is truly stunning": We'd agree with that statement. For a moderately bare-bones electric car, the Zoe is cute and approachable -- more akin to the buglike Toyota Yaris than the quirky Mitsubishi i-MiEV.
  • "Zoe is the first 100% electric car that's truly affordable": We agree with that, too. Though we're having trouble finding the Zoe's price in France, just across the Channel, it costs £13,650 after government subsidies, or just over $20,200.
  • "Lifetime guaranteed batteries": That's impressive. Replacing batteries on electric cars can be very, very expensive, so a lifetime guarantee might be just the thing to put hesitant shoppers behind the wheel. 
  • "Z.E. Voice, an external sound that reacts to the speed of the car and warns pedestrians": This is a nice touch and addresses the concerns of those worried by the stealthy nature of electric cars. If the video is accurate, Z.E. Voice makes the Zoe sound more like a typical car rolling down the road than, say, a theremin barreling your way, but all in good time.
  • "R-Link Multimedia System": This in-dash feature looks useful and functional, even if the styling seems a bit outdated, like the future-tech in Logan's Run. (And even though it appears that the built-in TomTom service requires some in-dash purchases to be truly useful for travelers.)
  • Zoe Zen Version's "Take Care package, which has an active scent diffuser, toxicity sensor, and purifying air ionizer": We love our spa days, but this may be a step too far.
  • "TomTom Z.E. Live Navigation System": This integrates your satnav with a range estimator, so you can check your map and see your remaining battery range, all in one go. That's genius.
  • Rated "at over 200km" per charge: Also genius.
  • The Zoe can be quick-charged "to 80% capacity in just 30 minutes". Again, genius -- and it also explains how the Zoe broke the 24-hour distance record.

Intrigued? Catch a behind-the-scenes look at the Renault Zoe as it's being manufactured in the clip below:

[h/t Brian Henderson]


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Comments (30)
  1. Well, if the battery is swappable, it all makes sense but if it is fixed, its a tethered cord car with a radius of 70-80 KM. Now why would you invest 25K dollars (forget the incentives, those will loast for the first 1000 buyers) in a small car that is tethered to the charger when you can, for the same price a comfortable sedan of unlimited range with better amenities?

  2. ...and be tethered to a fuel pump.

  3. and tethered to the support of terrorists

  4. The gas sedan gives us cancer and asthma and unbreathable stinking smoke... Enough?

  5. Tesla is doing it right with the superchargers.

  6. There are more comments in this thread
  7. Yes I'd buy one. It would a second car for my commute to work. This is exactly what I have been waiting for, a small good looking EV. The looks of the Leaf and MiEV just don't do it for me. And the lifetime battery warranty? Priceless!

  8. Lifetime battery warranty? The battery is a rental, that's why you will always have a decent battery...unless you stop paying the ~$100/month rent.

  9. Yes, I would buy one. It has decent mileage, priced right, and lifetime guarentee on the battery, and the body style is decent (it could be more stylish).

  10. could be more stylish? Seems to me that's exactly what it is!
    Look it up.

  11. Your story fails to note an essential which is what is the car's range?

  12. Check the next-to-last bulletpoint: 200km per charge.

  13. The video says it is 200km on the European test circuit. So expect real world of 160km (100 miles!).

  14. I still wonder what happens if one does not pay the battery lease. Does someone come overnight and repossess the battery from the car? Does the Zoe owner gets charged with a "grand-theft battery"?

    Why not just lease the whole car?

  15. In the domestic car market in Europe leasing is a relatively rare thing. It is the norm, tho, in the business sector especially for those driving company cars - they are practically all lease vehicles. I gather Citroen is starting to lease to non-business users and as Citroen is tightly tied to Renault via their PSA group, I expect leasing the whole Zoe will turn out to be a natural progression from just leasing the battery.

    I plan to test drive one soon both for work use as well as personal use but as I mainly commute on a Vectrix, I will not make much use of the Zoe and therefore will not get much value for money from the battery lease cost. Fortunately my wife also commutes but only 5 miles each way to the station - ideal for her!

  16. @Martin: I'm afraid you're confusing your French carmakers. Citroen is closely tied to Peugeot, not Renault; the PSA group owns both Peugeot and Citroen.

    Renault, on the other hand, has an alliance with Japan's Nissan. Those two companies together are producing more battery electric vehicles than any other carmaker.

  17. Lower cost, higher efficiency, more range, faster charging, better looking. Hopeful the Zoe will replace the LEAF In the US for 2014.

  18. A subcompact car replacing the mid-size class for which a specialized factory has been built? What's the point of saying such random things?

  19. @Kei: In the U.S., compact (C-segment) cars outsell subcompact (B-segment) cars several times over. As a compact, the Leaf is far more appealing to a broader segment of U.S. buyers than the Zoe would be.

  20. The article never mentioned Renault exporting the small all-electric car to the U.S. Did they? If they did, I missed that. I am very interested in this car, this is groundbreaking because of its short charge-up times. Also, the car's range is not mentioned. I like its small, smart body design a lot. I will be following it like Gary Payton followed Michael Jordan in the 1996 NBA Finals. Also, did I read that correctly, that Renault just re-ups you on a new battery if you need it?. Is this while under a new car purchase Warranty...of the LIFETIME variety? This car should have a lot of people in America very interested in it.

  21. @ Bryan Lund - Er... yes it is - as another commenter has already pointed out... 200km/charge. As to why Renault doesn't sell cars in the US? It's something to do with them not meeting US build standards and generally their cars are too small for most Americans, apparently (I can't think why that is...?). So the US isn't interested in them. Seems a bit short sighted to me. Perhaps the Zoe will change all that..?

  22. It's all because of those Costco hot dogs. Stop hatin' and start eatin'...

  23. The car looks great; but, the battery doesn't come with the car. It must be rented monthly for over $100 a month. This could be a good thing, if you don't trust the battery. Or, a bad thing because you are always depending on the company for fuel. What if they reprocess the battery?

  24. It's called an agreement...?! Both parties sign it before/at purchase and it' a legally binding document. Don't you have these where you live?

  25. Where do you get 70-80km range from? It is 200km/charge and as someone else points out, this is about 100 miles real world range perhaps 120 miles if you aren't caning it. As the average daily mileage in the UK at least is 25 miles and petrol cost nigh on $8/gallon your question should surely be "Why on earth *wouldn't* one want to buy it?"

    For my money, driving for 2 hours and stopping for 30 minutes to charge the car and 'freshen up' and then doing another 2 hours etc is a recipe for much more pleasant and safer long trips - saving 70% on the cost of doing it in a ICEed vehicle is a bonus.

  26. This and the Blu car are fantastic vehicles

  27. I would buy in a heartbeat.

  28. ZOE walks all over Leaf. It does not walk all over the Mitsubishi i-MiEV, however. No one makes cars as well-built as Mitsubishi. They are the best. I just like the body design on the ZOE and also the range is better and the battery deal seems fair enough. The ZOE is too small for fat Americans, not me, but most Americans. So why can't I have my own ZOE, then? Why not?

  29. @Bryan: Sadly, you can't have one because the Zoe was almost surely not designed to "Federalize," or pass the U.S.-specific crash safety tests. While cars can be adapted to Federalize even if not originally designed that way, it's a very expensive process and one that costs ~ $150 million.

    Given lower than projected sales of battery electric cars thus far, it's highly unlikely Nissan would bring in a car from its partner company requiring such work--especially in a market segment that's much smaller than the one the Leaf competes in.

  30. I am falling for the Renault ZOE. ZOE me, Renault! I want one. It posesses too much of the right technology to laugh and sneeze at. It could make Renault a much large carmaker, if people are smart enought to appreciate it's great attributes. Wow! I can't believe it! Someone has finally woken up and given the people what they need!!

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