Zoe News September 2012 Week 3 – Future of Electric Car, First Test Drive

The Future of the Electric Car

Zoe Braking System (Image: Renault)
Zoe Braking System (Image: Renault)

During this week Renault put out various technical briefings on the operation of subsystems in the Zoe and its other EVs. On 14 September Automobile Challenges carried an article giving details of the Zoe’s braking system, and its improvements over that in the Fluence ZE. In the Fluence ZE regenerative braking occurs when the driver releases the accelerator; the brake pedal operates a conventional hydraulic braking circuit. In the Zoe, the brake pedal operates a system that blends braking effort from regeneration and a hydraulic system, taking account of the driving situation:

“If one believes those responsible for its development at Renault, Aymeric Bruneau and Basile De-Branche, this decoupled brake pedal system can extend by about 10% the range of the Renault ZOE by doubling the rate of kinetic energy recovery compared to its predecessor, the Fluence ZE… As well as depression of the brake pedal, the system continuously measures the vehicle speed, the differential speed of the four wheels, the rate of lateral acceleration and the steering angle.”

Zoe Climate Control System (Image: Renault)
Zoe Climate Control System (Image: Renault)

On 17 September Auto-Addict gave details of Renault’s plans for development of EV technology, highlighting improvements made between the Fluence and the Zoe. This included coverage of the braking system, but also touched on the climate control and charging systems. On the heating system it said:

“Conventional motor vehicles have abundant ‘free’ heat provided by the engine (two-thirds of the energy contained in the fuel is dissipated as heat). In winter an electric car gets its heat energy from the battery, which can have a significant impact on battery life. The ZOE replaces the electrical resistance heating of the Fluence by a heat pump that is on average twice as effective when the outside temperature is 0-7ºC, which corresponds to a gain of 25% in range which would increase it from 80 to 100 kilometres. Other benefits are that the system is more comfortable than ordinary car heating because it heats much faster, and also it can be used for air conditioning.”

First Test Drive

Zoe in Munich (Image: AutoBild.de)
Zoe in Munich (Image: AutoBild.de)

On 21 September AutoBild.de posted an early driving review of the Zoe, following a brief test drive at Munich’s ‘Allianz Zentrums für Technik’. It gives an insight into the start-up process:

“The start button is pressed, to a quiet computer start-up sound playing (as we know from the Nissan Leaf) and the message “Ready” appears. Move the somewhat long lever to D, and there you go, electric drive. The 65-kW motor and the torque of 220 Nm are available immediately providing the typical electric car sprinting power and are sufficient for a car of Polo size. The narrow instruments are all digital, even a picture of Zoe herself appears.”