All posts by Trevor Larkum

Software engineer and electric vehicle advocate

Renault ZOE Car Sharing in Padua

During my recent trip to the Veneto region of Italy (Venice/Padua/Verona) I stayed in a hotel near Venice, in Mestre on the mainland. Most of Venice, of course, has no cars – just a lot of polluting boats.

Renault ZOE Car Sharing poster in Padua (Image: T. Larkum)
Renault ZOE Car Sharing poster in Padua (Image: T. Larkum)

The mainland, however, is packed with cars like any European region. It was very disappointing, therefore, not to see a single electric car in the time we were there.

There was a single bright spot, during a day trip to Padua (Padova). I have previously reported on the Car Sharing Padova organisation there and its use of Renault ZOE electric cars.

I’m pleased to say that it’s still up and running. I saw an encouraging poster in Padua for Car Sharing Padova at an upcoming trade fair.

It did seem, however, like a small oasis in an electric car desert.

Source: my blog at Fuel Included.com

TRO to launch UK’s first Electric Vehicle Experience Centre

TRO has been appointed to launch the UK’s first ever Electric Vehicle Experience Centre in partnership with Chargemaster.

Opening in Milton Keynes, the EV Experience Centre is aimed at educating consumers by demonstrating the value of electric vehicles.
TRO’s retail division is responsible for the design and production of the EV Experience Centre, which will feature a number of engaging technologies to enrich shoppers’ showroom experience.

Pictured: TRO has designed the first of its kind Electric Vehicle Experience Centre, launching in Milton Keynes in spring

Ben Taylor, retail director at TRO, said:

“We are thrilled to be spearheading this innovative initiative in partnership with Chargemaster. The new store reflects the automotive industry landscape and the dramatic increase of consumer interest in electric cars – plug in power models are appealing not just to dedicated environmentalists but a much more mainstream audience. The project embodies several areas of TRO’s capabilities – melding our expertise in retail, automotive and digital spheres.”

Chargemaster is responsible for the running and management of the store for its five-year duration.

The EV Experience Centre is to be delivered as part of Milton Keynes’ £9 million ‘Go Ultra Low’ Cities programme, which encourages the uptake of low emission vehicles – with a target of 23 per cent of all car sales being electric or plug-in by 2021.

Source: meetpie.com via Fuel Included news

ELECTRIC RALLY CAR SPARKS SUCCESS

Fife-based eRally Motorsport have built the first electric rally car, a Renault Zoe which is charging into Formula 1000 in 2018.

The prototype car will be used in junior rallying, for 14 to 17-year-olds, after being tested in the senior division this year.

Thanks to help from Business Gateway Fife, eRally, which is based just outside Rosyth, has created a sponsorship package that has already attracted Aberdeen’s EC-OG. Further deals are currently being sought which would help the company reduce the car’s price tag from £15k to under £10k.

The sponsorship deals, alongside a commitment from RCI Financial Services to supply a number of donor vehicles to the team over the next 12 months, will also help keep them on course to launch the eRally Championship in Scotland within the next three years.

Jean Hay, co-driver and project coordinator at eRally Motorsport Ltd, said:

“We now have a complete package – a rally ready car and sponsorship deals on offer. Although the number of cars RCI Financial Services Ltd’s will supply to us at a discounted or subsidised rate has yet to be decided, having them on board will help us showcase electric car rally driving to the nation.”

Fraser McKee, Business Gateway Fife, said:

“We’ve provided eRally with information on how to run a rally team as a business. Getting the pricing structure for sponsorship correct was crucial and with our help they now have packages that will attract the right companies”

eRally’s electric rally car is the brainchild of former British Rally Championship and current Scottish Rally Championship driver Ellya Gold and Tristan Dodd, Chairman of Formula 1000.

Although the original idea for the car arose in 2006, it wasn’t until Tristan approach the Motorsport Association with the idea of producing an electric car for youngsters to drive last year that approval was given.

The prototype eRally car is powered by a 65kw motor which provides a maximum torque of 220Nm – double the torque currently used in the junior section. The 20kWh lithium ion battery gives the car a competitive range, when driven flat out, of around 25 miles.

Renault has recently launched a new 41kWh battery pack that will effectively double the range of further eRally cars built for customers.

Read more: BQ Weekly via Fuel Included news

Hitachi Starts U.K. Project to Mix Clean Power and Electric Cars

Hitachi Ltd. will work on a smart-grid project in Southwest England that seeks to combine renewable energy, battery storage and electric vehicles to balance power output and usage.

Hitachi’s European unit will develop a so-called Internet-of-things platform for the 10.8 million-pound ($13.13 million) project in the Isles of Scilly, in Cornwall, according to a statement Wednesday. It’s partly funded by the European Union’s Regional Development Fund.

Hugh Town on the Isles of Scilly (image: Matt Cardy/Getty Images)

PassivSystems Ltd. will supply home energy management systems, and Moixa Energy Holdings Ltd. will contribute systems that allow home and electric vehicle batteries to respond to changing demand.

“This is a key investment area for Hitachi Europe Ltd. and puts us in an ideal position to build IoT engineering capabilities in the U.K. to deploy digital solutions globally,”

Andres Larriera, head of Hitachi’s smart cities energy group, said in the statement.

Source: Bloomberg via Fuel Included news

Taster test of the new Renault ZOE

While the LEAF from sister brand Nissan continues to grab all the headlines associated with it being first to the party, the ZOE has built itself a loyal following since the car’s launch in 2012 and was the best-selling electric car in Europe in 2015.

What is it? The latest version of the Renault ZOE electric supermini.
Key features: New battery increases official range to 250 miles. New top trim level, updates across range.
Our view: The Renault ZOE is a definite contender amongst its electric rivals, particularly considering its versatile purchase options and now its range.
Type of review: Taster test.

For 2017 Renault has introduced a facelift for the ZOE, the major headline of which is a new 41kWh battery. This is almost double the capacity of the original 22kWh battery and pushes the ZOE’s official range to 250 miles.

Longest range

While Renault claims that this gives the ZOE the longest range of any mainstream electric vehicle, we are also told that the car’s ‘real-world’ range between charges is now between 124 miles in extreme cold and 186 miles in ‘temperate’, in other words typical, conditions. This of course makes the ZOE a very practical car indeed – how often does the average motorist clock up more than 186 miles in a day?

Renault ZOE – the look

The biggest difference between the Renault ZOE and its great rival the Nissan LEAF, in this writer’s opinion, is in exterior looks. The LEAF, with its squared-off, slanted rear end, looks different enough to be identified as such, an electric car. The ZOE, however, looks just like any other supermini – it could just as easily be a traditional petrol/diesel sister to the Clio and Twingo and is very closely related to the former.

On the road

This is not a fast car, its 0-62mph time over 13 seconds, but it feels nippy in its natural environment of urban streets. At speeds under around 40mph the torque of the electric motor is at its most efficient, and the ZOE reaches 30mph in a mere four seconds.

It’s much less fun at high speeds, on a motorway for example, because above 60mph it seriously struggles for pace. Steep gradients cause similar issues, it will get up them, but not in any hurry.

Buying a ZOE

Electric cars are not cheap and on the surface the ZOE is no different, but there is a way to spread the cost. Renault offers the option of either buying the car and battery outright, or leasing the battery and paying a monthly fee that varies based on one’s expected mileage. This also answers those concerned about the staying power of the battery, though Renault does offer a five-year/60,000-mile warranty that includes the battery retaining at least 75 per cent of its original capacity.

Verdict:

The Renault ZOE won’t write headlines for its roadholding and handling but in the urban environment that electric cars are excepted to populate it becomes a leading contender. With its practical purchase options it should be considered by anyone wanting to go electric.

Read more: The Car Expert via Fuel Included News

Renault Kangoo Z.E. Gets 50% More Range

As promised, Renault has introduced a new larger battery equipped Kangoo Z.E. with up to 50% more range.

And while we are happy to see the upgraded “ZE 33” model, and its 33 kWh pack (instead of 22 kWh), the vans battery stills looks tiny as compared to the recently updated ZOE with a 41 kWh pack.

Renault Kangoo Z.E. 33 (33 kWh)

Renault pegs the new Kangoo ZE 33 at a range of 270 km/167 miles under the NEDC rating system, which translates to about 200 km/125 miles in ‘real world’ driving conditions.

The Z.E. 33 is shared with new Master Z.E. heavy commercial van.

Renault lineup – from left Twizy, ZOE, Kangoo Z.E., Master Z.E.

Renault has also utilized a new electric motor found originally on the ZOE R75/90, rated at 60 hp (44 kW), and has replaced the original (and fairly weak) charging system. The new Kangoo ZE can charge at near twice the rate of the previous version – up to 7 kW.

As you can see, the 7 kW charging capability still isn’t near on par with the 22 kW charging found in ZOE.

Anyway, the new Kangoo Z.E. is still far better then the previous version, so perhaps we should not be too critical. Renault promises the “ZE 33” will be available on the European market from mid-2017.

Read more: Inside EVs via Fuel Included news

Milton Keynes pushes ahead with Go Ultra Low City programme

Electric Vehicle consultancy, Zero Carbon Futures, has been appointed as project manager to Milton Keynes Council to support the delivery of their Go Ultra Low City programme.

The appointment follows the announcement last year that Milton Keynes has been awarded £9 million from the Office for Low Emission Vehicles’ Go Ultra Low City Scheme. The funding is to support the city to become a showcase of what can be done to encourage the uptake of Ultra Low Emission Vehicles.

Following a competitive tender process, Zero Carbon Futures has been commissioned to oversee the project’s key strands including the EV Experience Centre, EV charge point infrastructure and innovation as well as work on the Highways to support the programme.

Brian Matthews, Head of Transport Innovation, at Milton Keynes Council, said:

“We had a number of exceptionally strong tender submissions for the project management contract however Zero Carbon Futures’ expertise and knowledge of the industry really stood out. The company will be a critical friend for the project throughout its five years.”

Zero Carbon Futures has been involved in a number of high profile electric vehicle projects such as the Rapid Charge Network, Plugged in Places and My Electric Avenue and has overseen the development of charge point networks across the UK including at motorway service stations. The company has also developed a number of electric vehicle marketing and promotional campaigns to encourage residents and businesses to consider making the switch to electric.

Dr Colin Herron, Managing Director at Zero Carbon Futures, said:

“Milton Keynes put forward an exceptionally strong bid to become a Go Ultra Low City and we are delighted to be working with the Council to support its delivery. This is a significant programme which will make a demonstrable difference to electric vehicle uptake in the City and we hope that our expertise will provide real added value to the Council.”

Read more: Zero Carbon Futures via Fuel Included news

Staying at Center Parks with a Renault ZOE EV

In the summer we spent the bank holiday weekend at Center Parks Longleat Forest with family. We travelled there and back in the ZOE.

Naturally I hoped to charge while there but it turned out to be problematic. It seemed pretty clear that CenterParks was not setup for EV charging. Initially we were offered the use of a 13A socket in a shed in a far corner of one of the main car parks.

CenterParcs EV Charging Point in a Car Park Equipment Shed (Image: T. Larkum)
CenterParcs EV Charging Point in a Car Park Equipment Shed (Image: T. Larkum)

I plugged in and charging started fine. However, I was a bit sceptical and went back after a few hours to find that the charging had stopped, seemingly a circuit breaker had triggered. I restarted the charge, but disappointingly, I returned after a few hours to check on it to see that it had failed again.

CenterParcs EV Charging Point: the 13A socket above the bicycle (Image: T. Larkum)
CenterParcs EV Charging Point: the 13A socket above the bicycle (Image: T. Larkum)

I reported this and that night I was allowed to charge at the external sockets by the main entrance (next to the in and out barriers). However, the same thing happened and I gave up at that point. Instead we charged on our way home. So, overall, we were not too impressed with CenterParks’ provisions for EV charging (though apparently the provision of charge points has improved since).

CenterParcs' All-Electric Renault Kangoo ZE Van (Image: T. Larkum)
CenterParcs’ All-Electric Renault Kangoo ZE Van (Image: T. Larkum)

On the plus side, we did see that Center Parks were making use of all-electric Kangoo ZE vans for work around the park. And we did enjoy our time there, even if it was a bit pricey.

Source: Fuel Included Blog

Renault ZOE In Charge of January Plugin Sales in Europe

Europe began 2017 with solid growth of plug-in electric car sales, up 31% year-over-year according to the EV Sales Blog report. In total, roughly 19,000 units were sold, which is not only the best January ever, but also one of the better months ever.

Renault ZOE took an early lead with 2,602 sales (up 80 percent) after securing 1st place in 2016.

Plug-In Electric Car Sales In Europe – January 2017 (Image: InsideEVs)
Plug-In Electric Car Sales In Europe – January 2017 (Image: InsideEVs)

In second place was the BMW i3 (1,818), which gives us one way to compare sales of different battery sizes. Renault is seeing better sales of the new 41-kWh ZOE, while i3 continues to sell the 33-kWh i3. Obviously, these cars are quite different, but with EVs, range does matter. And, if BEV sales are so tightly connected to battery pack capacity/range and price, we are eager to see the Opel Ampera-e later this year.

Nissan LEAF keeps seeing strong sales in Europe, taking 3rd place in January with 1,386 sales (up 29%). This EV’s battery increase – from 24 kWh to 30 kWh – wasn’t all that dramatic, and the Japanese manufacturer needs to do more soon. The top three BEVs sold in Europe totaled 5,806 units, which was 30.5 percent of all plug-in car sales. Tesla sold some 819 Model S (#7) and 586 Model X (#11) EVs.

Read more: Inside EVs via Fuel Included News