All posts by Trevor Larkum

Software engineer and electric vehicle advocate

Scalextric like never before as electric Renault ZOEs race around London

Scalextric like never before as electric Renault ZOEs race around London (Image: Renault)
Scalextric like never before as electric Renault ZOEs race around London (Image: Renault)

Following two sensational videos in 2013 featuring customers getting more than they bargained for during a Clio test-drive, Renault has turned its attention to the recently launched ZOE electric supermini with the release of a brand new film.  However, as with the Clio videos which have now attracted over five million views on YouTube, all is not quite as it may seem.

Electric vehicles are no strangers to motorsport – either in full-size racing, as Renault will show with its partners in 2014 with the FIA Formula E championship, or in miniature in the form of the ever-popular skirting-board scarring Scalextric models.  Drawing inspiration from these two ends of the spectrum, Renault’s team hatched an idea to take things one step further and race two full-size ZOEs on a Scalextric track.  And where better for the challenge to take place than against the iconic background of central London?

Instead of the usual plethora of exotic supercars, sports and rally cars used in the famous pocket racer formula, viewers will see Renault revamping the underpinnings of its electric supermini to meet the challenge. Compact, stylish, not to mention swift, with instant torque and a 0-31 mph time of only four seconds, its flagship electric vehicle lends itself perfectly to urban racing. It’s even perfectly weight distributed, thanks to its batteries housed directly under its core, doing away with the need for even Scalextric’s trick Magnatraction™ system.

Among the alterations shown in the film was a reworked undercarriage, including the fitting of specially-designed braids, keeping ZOE on the track, as well as an aerial to enable the car to be remotely operated from the sky.

In the three-minute long film, viewers get to see the track being prepared at night, set for race action early the next morning. At dawn, two lucky online competition winners take flight in a specially chartered helicopter for the occasion to pilot their real-life ZOEs, obviously, complete with their own “throttles”.

The race sees the white and black ZOEs do battle along a 1.9-mile specially created track. Taking in several landmarks along the way, it starts at the London Eye on Southbank, it takes in Westminster Bridge and the Houses of Parliament, onto Embankment and The Strand, back over the River Thames, this time across Waterloo Bridge, then the BFI London IMAX cinema in the lead-up to the finishing straight alongside the River Thames.

Commenting on its latest bold marketing initiative, Renault UK Marketing Director, Phil York, said,

“We really wanted to create something attention-grabbing for our electric vehicle range. Given our passion for motorsport, particularly in Formula 1, and the benefits of electric models in urban areas, racing our flagship model around the streets of the English capital was a perfect scenario. ZOE is eye-catching, cheap to charge, London Congestion Charge exempt, as well as free from emissions and pollutants in use.”

Larger and more practical than the average Scalextric car, after the UK Government Plug-in Car Grant deduction, the chic Renault ZOE costs from an affordable £13,995 on-the-road, plus battery hire. The latest information on its full electric vehicle range, including ZOE, is available at

The creative for Renault’s latest production was undertaken by Scorch London and planned by MG OMD, with supporting assets from Publicis. The video went live on YouTube today at

Renault ZOE – Champion of Ecological Car Sharing

Renault ZOE - Padua Car Sharing (Image:
Renault ZOE – Padua Car Sharing (Image:

The opening ceremony was held at the conference “Electric Mobility in Padua, to the Smart City of the Future”

Renault Zoe will be the champion of the new electric car sharing service launched this week in Padua, with the submission of the recharging infrastructure for electric vehicles being installed in the city of Venice.

Francesco Fontana Giusti, Communications Director of Renault Italy, said:

“The electric car sharing service opened today in Padua reflects the changing needs of the cities, undertook to find a more sustainable balance between commuting and respect for the environment. This is one of the first projects that recognizes a significant advantage to electric vehicles in car sharing service with respect to the thermal vehicles: the total absence of polluting emissions during use.”

Further details (via Google Translate):

UK DAB offer announced for new and used Renault models

UK DAB for new and used Renaults (Image: Renault)
UK DAB for new and used Renaults (Image: Renault)

Monday 16th December 2013

Timed to coincide with today’s Go Digital Conference at BBC New Broadcasting House in London, not to mention a potentially ideal Christmas gift, Renault UK has announced details of its latest DAB offer for new and existing models.

As the UK prepares to make the switch, Renault will start fitting DAB as standard on its models from 2014, beginning with the new Trafic and Twingo. In the interim, it has launched an official integrated solution, so that owners can enjoy the various digital radio improvements such as enhanced sound quality and a greater choice of stations.

The system, supplied by Connect2, is compatible with every Renault dating back to 2008, regardless of whether or not it features in-built satellite navigation or infotainment systems, such as Carminat TomTom, MediaNav or R-Link.

The discreet device simply attaches to the back of the vehicle’s radio, behind the dashboard and even works in conjunction with steering wheel controls, where available. Its core features include 20 preset national stations, voice guidance (in auto DAB mode), as well as access to a technical helpline.

It’s available to order now for new and existing models through the Renault network, priced at £240 including VAT and fitting. Customers of new vehicles can opt to have theirs fitted seamlessly prior to taking showroom delivery.

Commenting on its latest consumer offer, Mark Crockett, Director, Services & Quality, Renault UK, said,

“The majority of drivers spend a significant time in their cars and vans, for business, for pleasure, or even both. Our complete digital radio offer now provides a simple, cost effective way for our current and near future Renault owners to enjoy the many benefits of digital radio, on a daily basis, at a very competitive price. For those struggling with present ideas for a tricky loved one or friend, this could just be the perfect answer.”

TfL Selects IER to drive Source London forward

A Miev by Big Ben (Image: Source London)
A Miev by Big Ben (Image: Source London)
  • IER to invest in London and build upon the success of the Mayor’s electric vehicle (EV) charging network
  • Transfer will see Source London expanded by the company behind the Paris Autolib and other successful EV charging schemes in France

Transport for London (TfL) has announced today that IER has been selected to take over the management and operation of Source London, the capital’s electric vehicle (EV) charge point network and membership scheme.

The French organisation, which is a subsidiary of the Bolloré Group, will take over the scheme from summer 2014.  IER will be responsible for all ‘back office’ functions including handling enquiries and membership registrations, from its UK offices.  By working with new and existing Source London partners, IER aim to expand the charging network and provide a strong long-term commitment to EV drivers in London.

IER will be looking to expand the number of Source London charge points to 6,000 by 2018 to meet the growing needs of EV drivers.  They aim to do this by working with existing partners to identify new charging locations or by attracting new partners to the scheme.

IER also propose a broad range of customer services for Source London members and will be developing a new Source London website, a London based sales office, new mobile applications and platforms for engagement through social media.

Source London was launched by the Mayor of London in May 2011 and is a consortium of over 60 public and private partners, led by TfL.  The Mayor pledged to introduce 1,300 EV change points across the capital by April 2013 – a target that was met, and represented almost a ten-fold infrastructure increase.  Source London now numbers nearly 1,400 charge points across 300 sites including supermarkets, shopping centres, council and private car parks, hospitals and on the street.

IER has extensive experience of implementing and operating EV schemes based on its role in delivering the Paris Autolib which was launched in 2011.  It currently has over 30,000 active subscribers making between 6,000 and 10,000 car journeys each day.

Nick Fairholme, TfL Director responsible for Source London, said:

“This contract award is good news for the future of electric vehicles in London, as it not only protects the legacy of Source London but will also see the scheme expanded.  The Mayor and TfL worked hard to ‘pump prime’ the market and establish an extensive charging infrastructure that puts London at the forefront of this green technology and ensures EV drivers are never far from a charge point wherever they are in the city.  It’s now time for a private sector operator to drive the scheme forward, working under normal market conditions and clearly demonstrating electric vehicles are here to stay.

“We have every confidence that IER will take Source London to the next level, building on the solid foundations that all partners in the scheme have helped to create.”

Vincent Bolloré, President of Bolloré Group said:

“We are delighted to be selected by TfL to take forth and develop the Source London scheme. TfL and Bollore group share a common ambition for creating a better environment for Londoners by facilitating the uptake of EVs.

“Our group is fully committed to sustainable development and is investing heavily in all relevant technologies with the objective of becoming a worldwide leader in clean energy storage, smart grid technologies and E-mobility solutions.”

Gilles Alix, CEO of Bolloré Group and Chairman of IER, added:

“We have been impressed by the Mayor of London’s strategy and vision to provide London with infrastructure to support the rapid growth of electric vehicles.  In our position as a major investor in green technology solutions, IER is ideally placed to continue to expand London’s electric vehicle charging infrastructure.  We look forward to being part of the electric vehicle revolution in London and contributing towards better air quality for Londoners.”

Following the transfer of Source London to IER, TfL will remain an active partner in the scheme and continues to support a range of initiatives aimed at increasing the take-up of EVs.  These include a 100 per cent discount from the Congestion Charging Scheme for pure electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles and working with the taxi industry to deliver a zero emission capable taxi.  TfL will also shortly trial two electric buses which will be the first time that vehicles of this type have been used to carry passengers in the capital.

In addition, the Mayor announced his intention earlier this year to create the world’s first Ultra Low Emission Zone in central London from 2020, which would provide a major incentive for the mass take-up of zero and low emission vehicles.

TfL will now work closely with IER to ensure a smooth transition to the new operator for Source London partners and the scheme’s 1,000 members who will be kept informed throughout the process.

Renault and Orange join forces to explore uses for 4G on future vehicles

R-Link Multimedia System (Image: Renault)
R-Link Multimedia System (Image: Renault)

The partnership provides Renault and Orange with a real-life testing framework for exploring new connectivity applications on vehicles using high-speed technologies.

Tomorrow’s vehicles will be hyper-connected. Everywhere, where driving circumstances permit, motorists will be able to access their professional and personal digital worlds from their vehicles in complete safety. To prepare for that future, Renault and Orange have joined forces as part of a research project on testing the automotive uses of very-high-speed, 4G/LTE (Long Term Evolution) connectivity.

Under the partnership, Orange has rolled out 4G in advance at Renault’s research and testing facilities. The aim is to enable both partners’ teams to test in real-life situations the uses enabled by very-high-speed mobile technology, ranging from virtual office and cloud gaming to video conferencing. An initial test is underway on the NEXT TWO prototype based on Renault ZOE and to be presented on the Renault stand at the upcoming Le Web’13 conference. 

Commenting, Rémi Bastien, Head of Engineering Innovation at Renault, said:

“This partnership is an example of an effective working relationship between two very different worlds. We were able to benefit ahead of time from a high-speed LTE network and from Orange’s expertise, with an opportunity to take advantage of the network for our prototype of the connected vehicle of the future.”

Nathalie Leboucher, Head of the Smart Cities Program at Orange, said:

“We are delighted to provide Renault with the unrivalled performance of our 4G network and thereby contribute to the development of new web-mobility uses and services for the vehicles of the future. Connected cars make travelling more efficient through communicating services and stand as a major development priority in Orange’s strategy”.

Connected vehicles are already a reality. With R-Link, Renault brings its customers an integrated and connected touch tablet rated by the SBD firm as Europe’s user-friendliest multimedia system. R-Link, available on most Renault range models, already features nearly 100 apps. Connectivity-wise, the R-Link system relies on the know-how of Orange Business Services, which supplies all the SIM M2M cards used on board equipped Renault cars.