ZOE is Cheaper to Buy than Equivalent Fossil Fuel Car

Zoe vs Clio (Images: Renault)
Zoe vs Clio (Images: Renault)

There have been many reviews published recently about the ZOE as it has just had its international launch (a selection can be seen at MyRenaultZoe/Driving Reviews). These reviews are almost without exception very complimentary about the ZOE, and they naturally highlight its low price – the basic ZOE is approximately half the price of the Nissan LEAF, the other mass-produced fully electric car on the UK market. However, I don’t feel it is appreciated just how well it compares in price to fossil fuel cars.

There is often mention in reviews of the high specification of the ZOE compared to other cars, as it comes as standard with many features that would otherwise be expensive options – such as electric windows all around, automatic lights and wipers, electric door mirrors, R-Link multimedia system with TomTom satellite navigation, automatic climate control, cruise control, and so on. At the same time it is sometimes suggested that the ZOE is expensive compared to other cars, with the equivalent Clio being quoted as being available from about £10,000 – when in fact such a Clio would be a very low specification example.

I have therefore looked to make a detailed comparison of the ZOE against a Clio of the same specification to see how they actually stack up. I have used current prices and specifications from the Renault.co.uk website. There is, of course, not a simple one-to-one equivalence between their specifications. The approach I took was to look for the cheapest trim level of each vehicle that could be matched, adding in missing options where required. It was interesting to see that to find a Clio that matched the ZOE in terms of core features (electric windows all around, R-Link with TomTom, and so on) immediately limited the Clio versions to the highest specification trim levels. At the same time, these same trim levels included some features not standard or available on the lowest trim ZOE (such as parking sensors and 17” alloy wheels), the ZOE Expression, so the ZOE Dynamique Zen trim level is compared instead.

The results of the comparison are given here, for both the petrol and diesel versions of the Clio:

 Zoe Dynamique ZenClio Dynamique S MediaNav TCe 90 Stop & StartClio Dynamique S MediaNav dCi 90 Stop & Start
OTR Price£19,450.00£14,995.00£16,095.00
Electric Front WindowsYYY
Electric Rear WindowsYYY
Electric MirrorsYYY
Auto Lights & WipersYYY
Rear Parking SensorsYYY
Auto Climate ControlYYY
Cruise ControlYYY
4 x 35W 3D Sound SystemY£0.00£0.00
R-Link with TomTomY£350.00£350.00
17inch Alloy Wheels£310.000YY
Plug-In Grant (25%)-£4,940--

It turns out that a pretty good match can be made between equipment levels on the ZOE and Clio in this way. The comparison hasn’t considered relative safety but they are both well equipped with ‘alphabet soup’ safety systems such as ABS, EBD, ESC and so on (for explanations see MyRenaultZoe.com/Equipment).

And hence we find some interesting results:

  • The ZOE is cheaper than an equivalent fossil fuel car (when taking into account the UK government plug-in grant).
  • Compared to buying an equivalent petrol Clio you get a ZOE with about 6 months of free motoring.
  • Compared to buying an equivalent diesel Clio you get a ZOE with about 18 months of free motoring.

So considering just short term benefits, buying a ZOE rather than a conventional car can save money from day one, as well as obviously being quieter, smoother, less polluting and so on.

Of course, that raises the question of whether a ZOE can also save money in the long term, and I will look at that question in a future post.

Renault at the 2013 Goodwood Festival of Speed

[MyRenaultZoe Editor’s note: this press release has been edited to focus on the Zoe and R-Link]


Zoe on Display at Goodwood 2012 (Image: Renault ZE/Facebook)
Zoe on Display at Goodwood 2012 (Image: Renault ZE/Facebook)

This year’s Goodwood Festival of Speed sees Renault following its substantial 2012 appearance with a celebration of its highly successful, 35-year long commitment to Formula 1, the revival of the famous Alpine sports car brand and the showcasing of an exciting array of new road cars, including two yet-to-be-seen concept models. The event will be held from 11th to 14thJuly in the grounds of Goodwood House, 60 miles south of London.

  • Landmark vehicles from Renault’s sporting heritage include the 1978 RS01 that was the first turbo F1 car, the sensational 1978 Le Mans-winning  Alpine A442B, the stylish 1977 Groupe 5 Alpine A310 rally car, the enormous and extraordinary-looking 1926 Renault 40CV ‘des records’, a 1902 Renault Type K that was one of the world’s earliest racing cars, and the dramatic Renault 5 Maxi Turbo of 1984.
  • Making their UK debut at Goodwood, and guaranteed to draw crowds, will be two new sports concept cars, one of which will be 100% electric
  • Besides these surprises Renault’s main Goodwood stand will showcase the four examples of Renault RS27-powered F1 cars from the 2013 championship, including the race-winning Lotus E21, the Red Bull RB9, the Caterham CT03 and the Williams FW35, as well as an array of exciting new road cars. These include the much-anticipated Clio Renaultsport 200 Turbo EDC, the handsome new Renault Captur crossover and the stylish Renault ZOE.
  • Renault is bringing famous drivers too, including legendary four times F1-championship winner Alain Prost, Monte Carlo rally winner Jean Ragnotti, and Susie Wolff.

Excitement on the track means excitement on the road

Renault will showcase no less than three major new models at Goodwood this summer, including the much-anticipated Clio Renaultsport 200 Turbo EDC, the stylish new Captur compact crossover and the revolutionary electric ZOE. Not only that, but there will also be two previously unseen, performance-oriented concepts on show, one of which will be 100% electric.

Electric Style

…Renault’s stylish new ZOE, an electric car that promises to attract new buyers to this growing segment. With prices starting at only £13,650 after the government’s subsidy, the ZOE is the most affordable, purpose-designed electric car on the market. It also has the biggest range, which is officially homologated at 130 miles, and has also been awarded the full NCAP five stars for occupant protection. A five-door hatchback of particularly appealing lines, the ZOE debuts no less than six ‘world premiere’ features and carries 60 patents, all of them aimed at enhancing its range, user-friendliness and connectivity.

A 65kW (88hp) electric engine provides the ZOE with particularly strong low-speed acceleration thanks to its instant 220Nm of torque, while its top speed is limited to 84mph. Recharging takes between 30 minutes and nine hours using Renault’s patented Chameleon charger, which is compatible with both the fast-charging stations that provide a fast 30 minute charge, and a domestic overnight supply.

ZOE is available in three trims levels called Expression, Dynamique Zen and Dynamique Intens, all three including the Range OptimiZEr package that provides regenerative braking, a heat pump and Michelin Energy E-V tyres, all three features contributing to the 130 mile NEDC range that, in real world use, would be typically around 90 miles in temperate conditions. Battery pack rental costs from just £70 a month, and in combination with the low cost of the energy required to charge, makes the ZOE very cheap to run.  Renault has become the first car manufacturer to offer a free domestic charging point with a new electric car purchase.  The free Single Wall-box, supplied and installed by Renault’s preferred electric vehicle charging partner, British Gas, is supplied and installed free of charge to ZOE customers.

R-Link super-connectivity

Apart from their style, a common feature to the Clio Renaultsport 200 Turbo EDC, the Captur and the ZOE is Renault’s innovative and hugely useful new R-Link infotainment system, which provides an impressive level of connectivity for the drivers of these cars. This multi-media tablet is also available in the new Clio hatchback and the new Kangoo van range too. Either fitted as standard or available for a very reasonable £450, this impressive and attractive tool is designed to appeal to those with an interest in new technologies, and equally, to be useful and easily understood for those that aren’t.

A key aim behind its design has been to avoid the need to use a small pile of portable devices to make phone calls or listen to music while on the move. So R-Link provides Bluetooth telephony, navigation, a radio, music streaming and connectivity to music devices, as well as connection to a series of vehicle-related services. Customers can tailor R-Link to suit their particular needs by subscribing to a variety of services – including TomTomLive – and downloading as many as 50 apps. The system itself is controlled by a clear and intuitive touchscreen, a set of steering wheel-mounted controls and a series of voice commands to ensure that the driver’s eyes remain on the road. R-Link is one of the most advanced and attractive infotainment systems on the market, and one of the most affordable too.

Some of its more unusual features include an app allowing you to compare the prices of the nearest 10 fuel stations, an Eco-coaching programme, a Yellow Pages search and when the car is stationary, the ability to tweet or play Sudoku. And for drivers of electrically-propelled Renaults, it helps you optimize your range, route and battery charge, and can guide you to the nearest charging station using TomTom Z.E. Live navigation.

Zoe Comes Second in 2013 World Green Car Awards

World Car Awards (Image: WCOTY.com)
World Car Awards (Image: WCOTY.com)

At a press conference hosted by the New York International Auto Show and Bridgestone Corporation, the results of the 2013 World Green Car Awards were announced. The Renault Zoe came second to the Tesla Model S, with the Volvo V60 hybrid in third place.

“Tailpipe emissions, fuel consumption, and use of a major advanced power plant technology (beyond engine componentry), aimed specifically at increasing the vehicle’s environmental responsibility, were all taken into consideration.”

While the Tesla is a worthy winner, it would be interesting to speculate that the Zoe might have won if price or value for money were among the criteria.

Renault Zoe Battery News

Zoe Battery Under Floor (Image: Renault)
Zoe Battery Under Floor (Image: Renault)

I came across a couple of interesting snippets of news about Zoe’s battery this week.

Battery Available to Buy

According to Fleet News, Renault boss Carlos Tavares has pledged he would authorise a move to include battery packs in vehicle purchasing pricing if customers prefer it:

“The whole point of our idea to offer batteries on lease has been to provide our customers with peace of mind and this has been backed up by all the results from our focus group sessions. These are expensive items and we shoulder the cost if they should fail during the lease period. But if the feedback we get from our sales network shows that customers prefer to buy the batteries along with the cars, we will change our minds. We’ll wait and see how customers respond to the plan before coming to a decision.”

Speaking at the media launch of the Zoe in Portugal, he added:

“When you are in a pioneering position, you have to accept that there are risks to be taken as well as opportunities. We’re not being stubborn over this. The leasing idea was part of our aim [to] retain a competitive edge, but we will listen to what our customers tell us.”

Remote Battery Inhibition

EV World reports that the financial arm of Renault UK, RCI, can:

“remotely inhibit the battery so that it won’t charge should [the] car owner fail to make their monthly rental payments”

It’s the first time I’ve seen in print that Renault has the capability to stop you using your Zoe if you don’t pay the battery lease fee, though of course it has long been suspected.

Renault Gearing Up for UK Launch 2

Zoe at Local Dealer VIP Evening (Image: T. Larkum)
Zoe at Local Dealer VIP Evening (Image: T. Larkum)

There is still a lack of information from Renault about the details of the UK Zoe launch, notwithstanding some information has been made available.

However, from my local dealer I have been able to glean a few new details:

  • They are getting specific training on the Zoe during April
  • At least one vehicle is expected to be available for test drives in late April
  • Delivery of pre-ordered vehicles is planned for May and June
  • Installation of the free wall-box can be arranged once a chassis number has been confirmed for a Zoe order

The general delays in Zoe availability are put down to a major push on quality control.

I have also heard another rumour of a Zoe battery pack being tested that promises double the range of the current one – but as ever I remain very sceptical of this. I don’t believe it makes sense for Renault at this point in the Zoe lifecycle – perhaps when the current crop of battery leases come up for renewal in three years time it would make more sense.