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.