An open letter to Renault

My ZOE charging at 43kW on an international trip (Image: Surya)
My ZOE fast charging at 43kW on an international trip (Image: Surya)

Ever since I received my ZOE earlier this year, I have been very happy with it. It has done everything I have expected from it. So far I have been a happy customer.

Some of the issues I had with the car have also been dealt with since then: the dashboard has been updated to a darker colour and customers now get the option to buy the battery with the car. Renault has also restated their intention to offer battery upgrades with longer ranges in the future. All of this had strengthened me in my opinion that I had made the right choice in buying the ZOE.

This week Renault released information on future changes to the product line which includes a smaller, more efficient motor with built in inverter and up to 8% longer range. That is fantastic news of course. The news also had a small bit of detail in it which doesn’t sit right with me: the new, more efficient inverter is now better suited for charging at 3kW, but only goes up to 22kW, not 43kW. This increases the minimum charging time from 30 minutes to 60 minutes.

Renault argues that the 43kW feature isn’t often used. And that is no doubt true. I have used that function a number of times, but 95% of the time, I don’t use it. But when I do use it, I am more than happy it is there. I’ll go even further: I wouldn’t buy a ZOE that can’t charge at least at 43kW. When I make my yearly trip to the UK, I’ll be doing multiple fast charges a day. If those took twice as long, not only would I be unhappy, the other EV drivers waiting in line for me to finish would be unhappy as well. But it would make international travel with the car impractical.

Renault probably argues that that is not what the car was designed for. And it probably isn’t, but my experience tells me that it is perfectly suited for that. It certainly didn’t bother me and in fact I bought the car with that in mind.

But I already own a ZOE. Why would I then complain? My fast charge capability won’t go away, will it? No, it won’t. But I will be impacted.

Renault has given a strong signal to the industry it won’t support the 43kW AC standard in the future. If they don’t support it, why would the people who install the infrastructure support it? After all, the amount of cars with 43kW capabilities is still low, and if Renault does indeed execute this change to the car, the amount will stay low in the future.

The surplus cost for 43kW against 22kW might be low, but the cost is there and I can certainly imagine some companies unwilling to invest further in this standard. And that will have an impact on me when I use my beloved car.

So therefore my plea to Renault:

Please don’t leave your existing customers with capabilities they can’t use. Keep on supporting this great technology you pioneered and which was one of my main reasons for choosing the ZOE.

The changes Renault has made since I bought my car confirmed that I was right, but if Renault now stops supporting their own standard, I will see no other option than to distrust the company in the future, and in that case I can’t see me buying an EV from them in the future.

I’m certain I’m not the only person with this opinion, so please Renault, respect your customers and support your own technology today and in the future.

A concerned customer

Home Forums An open letter to Renault

This topic contains 16 replies, has 15 voices, and was last updated by  bassman1 3 years, 9 months ago.

Viewing 10 posts - 1 through 10 (of 17 total)
  • Author
    Posts
  • #11198

    Surya
    Participant

    Ever since I received my ZOE earlier this year, I have been very happy with it. It has done everything I have expected from it. So far I have been a h
    [See the full post at: An open letter to Renault]

    #11215

    Anonymous

    Very much agreed. Please add my vote

    #11218

    Trevor Larkum
    Keymaster

    Me too!

    #11222

    GJ
    Participant

    Very much agreed. As in the Netherlands the 43 kWh charging is widly available, this functionality is often used and makes travelling over langer distances easy. In this way the charging on various speeds is Zoe’s Unique selling point. Not that Renault is making use of that, that’s another chapter.

    #11225

    AdvanderMeer
    Participant

    I drive more than 30’000 km per year with my Zoe and need to fast charge on a regular basis. I share the concern of the author of this letter concerning the willingness of investors in fast charging facilities to continue investing in 43 kW AC fast chargers should Renault decide to give up this feature.
    I chose the Zoe because of the flexability of the Chameleon charger. I chose the Zoe despite the fact there were no AC fast chargers at the time I bought the car in August 2013. I plan to drive the Zoe for about 4 more years, but now I am worried that us Zoe drivers will be left behind in the future roll out of fast chargers. I am happy with the car, despite of some of the problems us early adopters have gone thru, but I’d be disappointed if my Zoe would become a relic within 2 years of my purchase.
    I hope Renault will address our concern and will allow us to be happy ambassadors of this brand for many more years to come. I am sure that I speak for many for my fellow Renault Zoe drivers that we would be happy to discuss alternatives.

    #11226

    Big277wave
    Participant

    I am more than happy to put my name to the open letter. I would not have purchased my Zoe if it had only been equipped with 22kW charging. We need the future development of a high power charging infrastructure. The mass adoption of BEV’s will only happen when the masses can see that they can use BEV’s in the same manor as their fossil cars. The AC charging system used in the Zoe allows the creation of rapid chargers that are far cheaper than the Chademo DC chargers. As larger capacity EV batteries become the norm we need faster chargers not slower. Tesla with their 75kW batteries have recognised that you still need to offer 30 minute charging infrastructure to sell their cars.

    #11239

    Surya
    Participant

    Thanks guys, I knew I wouldn’t be alone in this. I must restate that I am very happy with the car itself and the recent evolutions, except some aspects of this change. The longer range and smaller size of the new unit is very positive of course.

    #11246

    farblue
    Participant

    As I also said on InsideEVs, I think it’s important to consider three points before panicking. Firstly, the EU standard for fast-charging is CCS. Secondly, the maximum AC charge capacity for CCS is 22kWh. Third, DC charging totally bypasses the motor, drive electronics and all other AC parts of the car’s systems. I strongly suspect as a result of this announcement that Renault have decided to adopt CCS and see no point in engineering their new AC systems (motor, inverter, drive electronics etc.) to support more than 22kWh charging because higher capacity charging will be DC and directly linked to the battery system.

    To be fair, this does make sense in the wide picture. The AC side of CCS is compatible with existing AC chargers up to 22kWh so all existing AC chargers are still available (but 43kWh chargers will scale back to 22kWh). DC charging has the advantage of not requiring complex electronics onboard and can scale much easier to higher wattage than AC because you don’t need to re-engineer the entire drive system to support it. As so many other companies have agreed to adopt CCS it is not high-risk for Renault to switch and, tbh, if CCS had been ready when the Zoe was being developed they’d prob. have gone for it – I suspect the engineering of the Zoe drive system to support 43kWh was purely due to a need for fast-charging that wasn’t as complex as Chademo or require 2 charging sockets (plus 43kWh AC chargers are cheaper to make than DC, reducing the risk that not many of them would be deployed).

    From a UK perspective, by the time the next Zoe is out, most if not all existing 43kWh chargers in the Ecotricity and other trunk-route networks will have been upgraded to CCS and as it’s not really in anyone’s interest to chuck out ‘old’ 43kWh AC chargers I’m sure they will continue to be available like the Chademo DC chargers for some time to come 🙂

    #11249

    Surya
    Participant

    @farblue
    I don’t have any problem with CCS being adpted by Renault. But there has been no word from Renault about that. If that is their plan, it is weird they didn’t include that in the press release.

    But my problem is that my ZOE doesn’t have a CCS connector, so my main reason for choosing the ZOE, 43kW AC charging will go on unsupported. The chargers that are there are great of course, especially in the UK, but I’m hoping to go to Scandinavia. The 43kW infrastructure along that route isn’t that great at the moment. I bought this car because Renault was supporting the installation of 43kW AC chargers, so the promise of the infrastructure was there. It seems now that infrastructure might never get installed.

    This is not a discussion about which technology is best, it is a plea for Renault to make good on it’s promises so that existing owners can use their cars to the fullest of their capabilities.

    The ZOE is perfectly capable of long distance travel. I don’t see a 30 minute fill-up as a problem. A 60 minute fill-up is.

    #11280

    reboot
    Participant

    Am I the only Zoe owner hunting around in the dark for light in the rear seating area? There isn’t one. The boot area has a little light which only comes on when the boot is opened,and the light from it is blocked by the parcel shelf and of no use in the rear seats area. I use this area a lot as I unclipped the back of the seats and removed it to give alot more space. Perhaps under ‘ZOE Accessories” Renault might add a very expensive torch. Happy Christmas Renault , look forward to a brighter New Year.

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