Renault Online Support 3: Z.E. Online User & Vehicle Settings

My Z.E. Online change notification settings (Image: T. Larkum)
My Z.E. Online change notification settings (Image: T. Larkum)

While logged into your ZE Online account there is a link at the top of the site to User & Vehicle Settings. This has various options as follows (most are self-explanatory):

  • Edit Your Account Information
  • Change Your Password
  • Change Notification Settings
  • Delete Your Account
  • Driving Mode (whether you wish to be connected/disconnected from Z.E. Services)
  • Change Vehicle (specify which vehicle is registered to this account)
  • Suppress Vehicle (cancel the current car’s registration)

Of these options the most interesting is Change Notification Settings: “You will be able to set the frequency and your preferred communication method to receive your charge notifications”. Here you can select how you are notified of key events such as charging state, charging problems, and low battery state.

I have set my options as above – this means that I get a text message when there is an urgent issue such as a battery charge problem or a low battery alert.

Email notification on charge start (Image: T. Larkum)
Email notification on charge start (Image: T. Larkum)

I also get an email when a charge starts and when it ends plus reminders when the battery is low.

Email notification on charge end (Image: T. Larkum)
Email notification on charge end (Image: T. Larkum)

Together these notifications provide a useful set of services to keep you informed about your vehicle’s charge status, and particularly any problems as they arise.

R-Link Experimentation


I’m still finding my way with the ZOE’s R-Link multimedia system. Since getting the ZOE I have mostly just used it as a conventional satnav and not much else, so this weekend I decided to experiment a bit further with it.

First of all I tried out the multimedia functions. R-Link has a nice radio that is straightforward to use – it can be a nuisance to scroll through all the different stations but there is a ‘favourites’ option so you can get to your regular stations quickly.

I plugged in a USB drive containing various MP3 albums and videos. By default it starts playing the MP3 tracks as soon as you insert the drive but it does so in alphabetical order, which seems pretty daft. However, you can select music by album instead and then you get a more logical ordering.

It played a couple of MP4 music videos fine, though it wouldn’t play some large MP4 TV programmes, nor a video in MOV format.

I haven’t yet used the satnav (provided by TomTom) very much yet. However, I did experiment with putting in a couple of addresses via the voice recognition system (activated by a button the steering wheel). After a shaky start, and once I realised you need to listen for a prompt beep before speaking, I found it worked pretty well (albeit rather slowly) and surprisingly effectively.

Finally I tried changing the system units from miles to kilometres as I want to do some energy consumption testing to compare with other data reported in kilometres. I was surprised to see that this changed the units used for distances in the satnav to km and km/h but had no effect on the main driver’s dashboard which continued to use miles and miles per hour. This odd result, the fact that the ZE Voice pedestrian alarm sound can’t be set via R-Link, and the very limited control of the car’s main systems that you get through it (e.g. power levels, regeneration control, etc.) lead me to conclude that the R-Link is pretty much just a glorified satnav with some multimedia functions and is not at all tightly integrated to the vehicle’s core systems. This is perhaps not a great surprise since it was developed by TomTom.

In fact while the R-Link has some neat functions it is considerably more limited than I had hoped. Given it is an Android system permanently connected by GPRS to the ‘cloud’, where are the functions you expect to find on even the most basic Android tablet? I was expecting to be able to download music, audiobooks, games, utility apps and so on – and ideally also be able to browse the Internet.

While R-Link theoretically has the capability to download apps from the R-Link store – Renault’s version of the Google Play store – the current range of apps is pathetically poor with just a few forgettable options. There is just a single game available to buy – and that’s just Soduku (never mind Angry Birds or anything advanced).

I will continue to explore R-Link’s capabilities, but it will have to improve significantly over time through updates and upgrades before it can become a serious rival to some of the more sophisticated ‘infomedia’ systems being developed by Renault’s competitors.

‘Vive Le Summer’ with Renault and new 63-reg plate offers

‘VIVE LE SUMMER’ WITH RENAULT AND NEW 63-REG PLATE OFFERS

Renault Zoe 2013
Renault Zoe 2013
  • Renault launches ‘Vive Le Summer’ promotion, including hot deals and giveaways
  • Every new Renault model released or refreshed in 2013 available for new 63-plate registrations in September, including: Captur, Clio (plus GT-Line and Renaultsport 200 Turbo EDC), ZOE, Scénic range including XMOD

In readiness for the rush on new 63-plate registrations next month, Renault has launched its latest promotion, ‘Vive Le Summer’.

Running from this month until the 22nd September, every customer who takes a test drive in any new Renault model will win something in the giveaway. The range of designer summer-themed prizes includes everything from White Company picnic baskets, Lacoste sunglasses, to travel speakers. On certain dates, iPad minis will also be on offer to Renault purchasers.

Selected models are also available with tempting cash-saving deals and promotions, including VAT off all Méganes and Scénics, and free insurance on selected Clio versions and Twingo Dynamique.

The campaign will be heavily promoted using a TV ad for the new Captur crossover, as well as a nod to the latest two others to join the French marque’s trio of fresh-faced small cars, Clio and ZOE. A heavyweight Press and digital campaign will naturally support the initiative over the same timeframe.

Superstitious motorists who might have swerved the previous 13-registration plate will be spoilt for choice at the range of new Renault models on offer. Ranging from the cheeky Twingo, right up to spacious family favourites such as Mégane and Scénic, to the power-packed Clio Renaultsport 200 Turbo EDC and the four-strong range of electric vehicles, it has a model to suit most budgets and requirements.

Renault’s best-selling model, Clio, is likely to be a huge draw. Inspired by the stunning DeZir concept supercar, its svelte and curvy exterior lines blend with a high-tech and upmarket interior. The high-selling supermini is also available with plenty of innovative touches.

R-Link multimedia system, climate control and heated front seats. Customers can also customise their car with a range of interior and exterior Touch Packs and stylish roof decals.

Newcomer Captur also hit the showroom just one month ago boasting the expressive style and driving position of a SUV, with the practicality of an MPV and the handling and driving pleasure of a hatchback. Personalisation is at the core of its appeal, with three Collections, Arizona, Manhattan and Miami. Each of them matches the adventurous spirit and personality of its official UK ambassador Steve Backshall, the well-known children’s author and explorer. Prices start from only £12,495 on-the-road.

Renault also continues to lead the way with its four-strong, 100 per cent electric vehicle line-up. The range flagship, ZOE, is a stylish, affordable and incredibly versatile supermini – it is priced the same as a diesel-engined alternative, from under £14,000, and expertly designed from the ground up as a plug-in car. It even includes a free 7kW domestic wallbox, giving full battery charge in three to four hours, supplied and installed by British Gas. Alternatively, unlike several other electric cars, it can be fast charged in one hour (22kW), or rapid charged to 80% charge in only 30 minutes (43kW).

The facelifted Scénic range, including the seven-seater Grand Scénic, now comes with the company’s new design identity, as seen on each of Renault’s latest arrivals: Twingo, Clio, Captur and ZOE. The new crossover-inspired version, XMOD, is a more rugged variant of the French brand’s iconic MPV, yet retains its trademark practicality and ease-of-use. With unique wheels and striking front and rear bumpers, and black roof bars, it certainly stands out – especially when priced the same as the equivalent standard Scénic, in spite of its enhanced looks and higher equipment level, including Grip Xtend Control, from £17,955.

On top of the sizzling deals, all cars qualify for Renault’s 4+ included package, worth £1,000, giving free four years/100,000 miles warranty, routine servicing and roadside assistance. See www.renault.co.uk/summer for more information.

Renault-Nissan Alliance Blog: The French City of Arras boosts its electric fleet with 5 new Renault ZOEs

The French City of Arras boosts its electric fleet with 5 new Renault ZOEs (Image: Renault-Nissan)
The French City of Arras boosts its electric fleet with 5 new Renault ZOEs (Image: Renault-Nissan)

Aiming to gradually make its fleet of municipal vehicles 100% electric, the City of Arras in northern France has acquired five new Renault ZOEs.

Arras has been pursuing a policy of sustainable development since 2008, and began replacing its combustion engine vehicles with EVs three years ago, when it acquired nine Renault Kangoos for its maintenance department. By 2014, another 15 EVs are scheduled to integrate the city’s 60-strong fleet.

As well as providing ecological benefits for the city, the five new Renault ZOEs offer financial advantages. The purchase price (15,000 euros) was the same as for a comparable combustion engine vehicle.

Furthermore, the ZOE has an autonomy of 150km, and fully recharging the battery costs just 2 euros, making it considerably less expensive to run than a traditional car. The vehicles will be used by senior staff for external visits, meetings, and other local journeys.

Arras is also involved in sustainable mobility project on a regional level. The Nord-Pas-de-Calais region is financing  the development of a local network of charging points, with stations set to be implemented in Arras, St-Omer, Maubege  and Boulogne-sur-Mer. The aim is to facilitate zero-emission journeys in the area and promote EV use among the public.

Firm uses Zoe to show clients the green way

Firm uses Zoe to show clients the green way (Image: Greenway)
Firm uses Zoe to show clients the green way (Image: Greenway)

Leamington Spa based, building services design consultants, Greenway & Partners are proud to announce 45 years in business, and to mark this milestone birthday the Company has chosen this occasion to re-launch its image with a new green initiative and new addition to the team – Zoe. Zoe is a brand new, 100% electric Renault Zoe, recharged whenever possible using renewable energy sources and she is key in showcasing Greenways recent brand overhaul to the local area. You may already have seen Zoe driving members of the Greenways team around Leamington, Warwick, Stratford and Coventry, sporting their new company branding and moving around our towns without causing any noise or pollution.

Throughout the last 45 years Greenways has concentrated on working with the most up to date techniques, in all aspects of electrical & mechanical services design and renewable engineering, providing Clients with innovative, energy saving, sustainable solutions. More recently the emphasis on these energy saving principles has become stronger than ever.

Nik Chambers, Operations Director said:

“All of our current projects have a large element of sustainable and renewable energy technologies within the basis of the design, so we thought it was time to practice what we preach. We can’t recommend green solutions to our Clients whilst driving around our local towns in gas-guzzlers. We hope, therefore that Zoe will be welcomed by all of our Clients”

Greenways energy efficient and cost effective electrical & mechanical designs have been installed in flagship buildings throughout the Country including: The new £9M refurbishment at Warwickshire College, Warwick School, Ashorne Hill Conference Centre, LSE London, Brit School London, The new Production Facility at Penso Coventry and The Civic Hall in Stratford upon Avon. More recent Clients that have used “the Greenway” include Premier Foods, Coventry Transport Museum, Listers, Spitfire Property Group, NHS, NFU Mutual and a number of local Architects.

Renault Online Support 2: The ‘My Z.E. Online’ Site

My Z.E. Online website screenshot (Image: T. Larkum)
My Z.E. Online home page – during charging (Image: T. Larkum)

Whilst the My Renault site is applicable to all Renault cars, Renault EV owners have access to a specific EV site at Services.Renault-ZE.com with the title ‘My Z.E. Online’. Once a ZE vehicle has been registered, using an activation code provided in a welcome letter when the ZOE is delivered, the site provides specific information on the vehicle’s charge status. This data is presumably acquired over the GPRS network directly from the vehicle, and is in close to real time.

The home page has a number of separate areas:

  • Your Vehicle Status: This indicates when the page data was last refreshed, what the current battery charge level is, and the resulting estimated range.
  • Charge Status: While charging this indicates the type of charging point (my 32A home one shows as ‘Accelerated’), the Estimated Remaining Time, and whether or not the charging cable is plugged in.
  • Last Charge: For the previous charge session this shows the date, start time, end time and % charge at the end (for me this shows the current charge session, presumably because I only activated the service today).
My Z.E. Online website – after charging (Image: T. Larkum)
My Z.E. Online home page – after charging (Image: T. Larkum)

There are three other tabs on the site:

  1. Battery Charge: This has a tab for Battery Status that largely duplicates what’s on the home page. It has a secondary tab for Charge History that lists all charges so far in a table format.
  2. Charging Points: Here you can enter a town name or postcode and you are taken to a page on the TomTom website that displays a map of nearby charging points. It doesn’t seem to be very good though – it didn’t recognise my local postcode and with a broader search it mostly showed up cash points and other POIs even though it was set to show charging points.
  3. Charging Advice: Some general hints and tips on charging and driving behaviour, such as leaving the car connected after charging, parking in the shade, travel at constant speed and accelerate/brake gently, check tyre pressures, try out Eco mode, etc.

 

On the whole this site is pretty useful for a ZOE owner as it allows the car’s charge and range status to be accessed, as well as its charging level during charging, without being near the vehicle. It has a simple, clear design so should be easily readable on a mobile phone, tablet or similar device.

User and Vehicle Settings

Renault Online Support 1: The ‘My Renault’ Site

My Renault website screenshot (Image: T. Larkum)
My Renault website screenshot (Image: T. Larkum)

Having just returned from holiday I am now trying to catch up on various bits of ‘housekeeping’ that I didn’t manage to do when I received my new ZOE – first among them being getting registered and/or activated on the various Renault websites. I think it’s fair to say that while Renault appears to have embraced the idea of online support to owners of its vehicles, it has perhaps gone too far, with a multiplicity of different sites.

There are at least three key websites: My Renault, ZE Services and the R-Link Store. I’m not counting other ones such as the largely useless account I was given at Renault-ZE.com when I reserved the ZOE. In this post I’ll cover My Renault, and I’ll return to the others in later posts.

Access to My Renault is via a tab of the same name on the local Renault site; in the UK this takes you to Renault.co.uk/community (at least once registered) under the title ‘Renault Owner Services’.

The main page has a default tab ‘Me & My Renault’ and it has a number of separate areas:

  • Your Profile: Subscriptions (e.g. to the Renault e-newsletter) and Preferred Contact Method (e.g. mobile phone).
  • Your Cars: Details of each Renault car you have registered, including its VIN, registration number, etc.
  • Your Updates: Information on waiting emails and safety recalls (both currently empty for me).
  • Your Renault 4+ Certificate: This presumably gives information on the 4 year servicing and warranty available on a new Renault, but oddly it won’t let me add my ZOE here.
  • Your Dealer: Contact details and preferred contact method for your preferred dealer – these details are correct for me, but I don’t believe I selected the dealer directly so I imagine the system has automatically entered by default the dealer that sold the vehicle.
  • Your Renault Handbooks: Downloadable PDF documents, the ZOE Driver’s Handbook and an R-Link guide. The Handbook is the same as the printed one that came with the vehicle, but the R-Link guide is more complete and useful than the printed ‘quick guide’.
  • My Renault – Feedback: A link to contact Customer Relations.
  • Your Renault Insurance: This seems to be just a means to try and get you to take a quote for insurance through Renault. For me it’s blank, which is ironic since I actually have taken my ZOE insurance through Renault.
  • Book a Service: A button that takes you to an online form to do just what it says (though I’ve not yet tried it).
  • Extended Warranties: Again a means to try and sell an extended warranty.
  • Renault Accident Support Line: Includes a telephone number and other information on the RASL: “a dedicated Accident Aftercare Service with UK based Claim Handlers that will deal with your insurance claim in the event of an accident”.
  • Z.E. Owner Information: A downloadable PDF document, the Battery Hire Lease Agreement, plus links to Z.E. brochures (covering the Twizy, ZOE, Fluence and Kangoo, as well as the Z.E. Box, Z.E. Range and ‘British Gas business charging solutions’).
  • Fancy a Test Drive: A link to an online form for booking a test drive, though that seems a bit premature if you’ve just signed on as a Renault owner (I guess Renault is just thinking ahead here).

 

There are three other tabs on the site but these are of limited use:

  1. Community: This is a Renault forum for its vehicles, but the Electric Vehicles sub-forum is largely dead (it contains just a handful of topics created since 2009).
  2. My Offers: Some special offers for servicing from Renault (Free Tyre Check, Air Conditioning and Renault Service/MOT) – I wouldn’t expect to make much use of these while the car is still in its 4 year initial warranty period.
  3. My Addresses: A blank page.

 

So that’s the My Renault site in a nutshell. It is useful enough to join (particularly for things like the safety recall notices) but it doesn’t appear to have anything that’s essential or not available through other means.

Electric supermini ZOE wins Green Award at ‘Businesscar Techies’

TUESDAY 20TH AUGUST 2013

ELECTRIC SUPERMINI ZOE WINS GREEN AWARD

AT ‘BUSINESSCAR TECHIES’

ZOE wins Green Award at 'Businesscar Techies' (Image: Renault)
ZOE wins Green Award at ‘Businesscar Techies’ (Image: Renault)
  • Renault ZOE wins Green category in 2013 BusinessCar Fleet Technology Awards “The Techies”
  • French marque’s flagship electric vehicle rewarded for cutting edge technology, including its five ‘world premiere’ features and 60 patents
  • Judges say electric supermini “is clearly the most attractive” in the marketplace, and praised Renault’s commitment to zero-emission* vehicles

Renault’s star electric supermini ZOE is glowing after being named the most environmentally friendly fleet motor in the business.

The well-established ‘Techies’ are the only awards in the industry that reward technological innovation in the corporate marketplace, helping fleets operate in a cheaper, cleaner or more efficient way.

Winning the Green Development category at the BusinessCar Fleet Technology Awards, the judges were blown away by sophisticated ZOE’s industry-leading kit. Among its highlights, five ‘world premiere’ features and 60 patents designed to deliver user-friendliness, range and connectivity.

BusinessCar Editor Paul Barker said:

“The Renault ZOE is a huge boost to the electric vehicle sector because it’s clearly the most attractive model to enter this fledgling marketplace. Renault’s commitment to and investment in zero tailpipe emission vehicles is helping fleets meet their environmental and cost objectives in terms of running their vehicles, and deserves commendation.”

The flagship vehicle of the French brand’s four-strong 100 per cent electric vehicle range is stylish, affordable and incredibly versatile – perfect for commuting and tailor-made for environmentally aware businesses who want to downsize their fleet’s engines and carbon footprint.”

Phil York, Renault UK’s Marketing Director, said:

“ZOE represents cutting edge technology in a truly stylish package, offering everybody the opportunity to ‘go electric’ at the same price as diesel-engined alternatives.

“ZOE is a major step forward in useful technology and makes a genuine difference to the environment and the way people drive. We are delighted this has been recognised at the Techies and are very proud to receive this Green award.”

ZOE hit UK showrooms in June and has a starting price of only £13,995 on-the-road after the UK Government Plug-in Car Grant deduction. It’s available in three trim levels and expertly combines advanced technology with a 5-star Euro NCAP safety rating. Monthly battery hire starts from £70 per month.

The ‘Range OptimiZEr’ package of three major innovations (bi-modal regenerative braking, heat pump and Michelin EnergyTM E-V tyres) helps ZOE deliver the longest range of any purely electric vehicle in its class –  a considerable 130 miles. In real world driving, this is likely to be circa 90 miles, depending on driving style, road and weather conditions.

To make life easy, its Chameleon charger is compatible with various power sources to provide charging from 3kW up to 43kW. Depending on the power of the charging station, this results in a charging time of either 30 minutes (Fast Charge), one hour (Rapid Charge) or up to four hours from its free 7kW domestic single Wallbox, supplied and installed by British Gas.

ZOE’s R-Link comprises a seven-inch embedded tablet in the dashboard with touchscreen display, steering wheel-mounted controls and voice recognition. It also features a connected store giving access to specific apps and services, as well as email and tweets.

Running alongside this innovation, the My Z.E. Inter@ctive app enables ZOE drivers to control pre-conditioning (cooling or heating of cabin temperature) and charging schedules from their smartphone or tablet – ensuring their car is always ready for business. The built-in sat nav also identifies the closest charging points en route.

The ‘Z.E. Voice’ warns pedestrians of the vehicle’s approach up to speeds of 18 mph, while ZOE’s ‘Take Care’ package includes an air ioniser to combat air pollution filtering into the cabin, as well as a fragrance diffuser to give a relaxing or stimulating environment according to occupant preference.

The Techies are judged by BusinessCar’s expert panel, including new ACFO – the premier organisation for fleet operators – chairman Damian James.

For more information on ZOE as well as the complete Renault electric vehicle line-up, see www.renault.co.uk\ze. More details on the awards can be found at www.businesscar.co.uk or in the latest awards-special magazine.

MyRenaultZoe Range Predictor App

ZOE Range Predictor App on Galaxy S2 emulator (Image: T. Larkum)
ZOE Range Predictor App on Galaxy S2 emulator (Image: T. Larkum)

I am a professional software engineer and since learning earlier this year that the ZOE R-Link multimedia system runs on the Android operating system I have been studying Android. So far it has mostly been following tutorials in books and online in order to learn the basics.

However, having been inspired by Nosig’s work on Maximising Range in a ZOE, and the elegance of The ZOE Range Rule, I decided to take the plunge and create my first original Android application. Naturally, it encapsulates the Range Rule in an Android app.

Of course, it’s a very straightforward program. You enter the current state of charge (SOC) as a percentage (the default is 100%), plus the maximum speed intended for the journey (the default is 100km/hr). Then you press the Calculate button.

The app then predicts the available energy remaining (so 50% SOC would display 11.00kWh) and also the predicted range (using the Range Rule), with this range scaled by the remaining energy (so at 50% SOC the range predicted would be 50km at 100km/hr instead of the 100km that could be achieved with a full battery).

I intend to make this app available to ZOE owners for free, so I will look next at how it can be distributed via Renault’s R-Link online system.