2013 Renault Zoe electric carEnlarge Photo
Renault's absence from North America means the Zoe electric car won't be reaching U.S. shores any time soon. And that's kind of a shame.
It's about as chic as you'd expect for a car originating from France, and makes you wonder why some other companies can't put a bit of effort into styling their electric cars, too.
However, price could sell the Zoe in Europe--and in the UK, Renault is also offering buyers home charging stations, absolutely cost-free.
It's able to do this thanks to the UK's electric car incentive package.
Not only do UK buyers currently get almost $7,600 off the price of a new zero-emission vehicle under the government's Plug-In Car Grant--dropping the price of a Zoe to only $20,700--but the government also pays for up to 75 percent of the cost of a domestic charging point.
Renault will pay the other 25 percent, meaning Zoe buyers can get a professionally-installed electric car charging point absolutely free.
Energy supplier British Gas will install the 32 amp, 7 kW wall box on the owner's home, prior to delivery of their new Zoe. Renault's extra 25 percent share will save owners around $760, and comes with an attached cord so owners don't need to use a separate cable for home charging.
Renault estimates that 90 percent of charging will take place at home, though the Zoe is also fast-charge compatible, offering the usual 80 percent capacity boost in 30 minutes. As part of the package, Renault also offers free access to a public charging network across the UK.
As with all Renault's electric vehicles, there is another cost involved: monthly battery rental. This starts at £70 per month, or around $106 at current exchange rates.
For some, it'll be enough to sour the deal--while a Zoe costs no more than an equivalent diesel subcompact in the UK after the government subsidy, a typical low-mileage owner may spend less than $106 per month on fuel anyway.
For others, it may simply be peace of mind, since the battery rental package comes with a comprehensive after-sales support package covering the battery itself, and providing you with a lift should you ever run out of charge.
And of course, owners will still enjoy the Zoe's neat styling and smooth electric car driving characteristics--while paying absolutely nothing for a home installed charger.