All posts by Trevor Larkum

Software engineer and electric vehicle advocate

ZOE is Cheaper to Run than Equivalent Petrol Car

Zoe and Clio (Image: Renault)
Zoe and Clio (Image: Renault)

I have shown previously that the ZOE is cheaper to buy than the equivalent fossil fuel car, the petrol or diesel Clio (the Dynamique S Medianav TCE 90 and DCI 90 models respectively). Here I want to consider how they compare in running costs – this essentially means fuelling costs since both the ZOE and Clio, bought new, come with the Renault 4+ Package which covers warranty, servicing and roadside cover. Also, all three models are car tax band A (no cost).

The comparison therefore comes down to the liquid fuel costs for the Clio (petrol or diesel) versus the battery rental and electricity costs for the ZOE. The liquid fuel costs depend on the fuel consumption figures that the Clio models achieve. It is well known that they will not achieve the official NEDC ratings and it is better to use real world figures. Using a combination of figures for the petrol and diesel versions from the websites What Car (60mpg for diesel), Honest John (47.8 for petrol/64.8 for diesel) and SpiritMonitor.de (42 for petrol, 61.7 for diesel) – the last two sites as recommended by the AA – we get averaged figures of 45mpg for the petrol Clio and 62mpg for the diesel Clio. The average price of petrol and diesel in the UK this year has been £1.35 and £1.41 per litre (i.e. £6.14 per gallon and £6.41 per gallon) respectively so the fuel running costs for a Clio are approximately 13.5p/mile and 10.5p/mile for the petrol and diesel versions respectively.

For comparison let’s consider the fuel running costs for the ZOE, with my typical range of 80 miles per charge. A full charge is 22kWh and my electricity costs are 15.76p/kWh during the day and 6.57p/kWh at night (‘Economy 7’). So the cost for a ‘full tank’ is about £3.50 (day) or £1.50 (night), giving fuel running costs for a ZOE of approximately 4.5p/mile (day charging) or 2p/mile (night charging). For a summary, see Table 1.

 Clio TCE 90 PetrolClio DCI 90 DieselZOE (day charging)ZOE (night charging)
Fuel cost/mile13.510.54.52

Table 1: Fuel running costs - Clio vs ZOE

While these electricity costs are representative running costs for most electric cars, they are not for the ZOE since it has an additional monthly battery lease cost. This depends on the car’s annual mileage so the ZOE’s total running costs vary, and depend on the distance travelled in the year. For battery lease costs see Table 2 (source: Renault.co.uk) and note that excess mileage is charged at 4.5p/mile.

Annual Mileage36M+ Contract24 Months12 Months
Up to 7,500£70£80£90
9,000£77£87£97
10,500£85£95£105
12,000£93£103£113
15,000£109£119£129
18,000£129£139£149
21,000£149£159£169

Table 2: ZOE battery hire costs

Therefore to compare with the Clio we need to consider different scenarios, from low annual mileages to high annual mileages – and given none of the monthly battery lease costs are particularly low we can expect that for low mileages the Clio will win out (since its fuel costs for low mileages will be correspondingly small). The comparison therefore becomes an interesting and very specific one – are there specific mileages above which the ZOE is cheaper than the petrol and/or diesel versions of the Clio?

To do this comparison fairly we must consider the limited range of the ZOE on a single charge even though, because of fuel costs, the ZOE would be expected to be cheaper to run at high annual mileages. For a driver who regularly goes on long journeys the need to recharge about every 80 miles may make it impractical despite the significant cost savings. Therefore it is more useful to consider typical daily commuting distances rather than just total annual mileage.

Specifically, it can reasonably be assumed that no-one wants to charge during their daily commute so, allowing for some range contingency, we can deduce that the maximum practical daily commuting distance is 75 miles round-trip, or 75 miles each way (150 miles round-trip) if charging is available at work.

The comparison therefore comes down to determining the monthly costs for each vehicle at commuting distances of up to 150 miles per day. These results are shown in Table 3 for the ZOE, diesel Clio and petrol Clio (on the basis of 22 working days per month and the per mile costs detailed above).

Figure 1: ZOE and Clio monthly fuel costs (Image: T. Larkum)
Figure 1: ZOE and Clio monthly fuel costs – El. is electricity, Bat. Ex. is battery lease excess (Image: T. Larkum)

From these results we can extract some conclusions:

  • As expected, at very low mileages (less than 35 miles per day) a fossil fuel Clio is cheaper to run than a ZOE.
  • At mileages from 35 to 85 miles per day a petrol Clio is the most expensive to run, with diesel the cheapest and a ZOE in between.
  • At mileages above 90 miles per day the ZOE is cheaper than either a petrol or diesel Clio.

It is worth noting that the running costs of the diesel Clio and the ZOE are generally very similar so, given the sensitivity of the underlying data to variations in fuel prices, it is probably best to say that the running costs of the diesel Clio and the ZOE are about the same for most mileages, and they are both substantially less than a petrol Clio.

Personally I would summarise as follows:

The ZOE is cheaper to buy than an equivalent fossil fuel car and for the majority of commuters it is cheaper to run than an equivalent petrol car. Compared to an equivalent diesel car it is quieter, smoother, less smelly, and less polluting but costs about the same to run.

IKEA becomes first retailer to install electric vehicle rapid chargers at all UK stores

A happy ZOE is a fast-charging ZOE (Image: T. Larkum)
ZOE fast-charging at IKEA Wembley (Image: T. Larkum)

Home furnishings expert makes it easier to “top up” while you shop

Home furnishing retailer, IKEA is encouraging its customers to make their shopping trips more sustainable through the installation of electric vehicle rapid charging points across all 18 of its store’s car parks by December 2013.

Research conducted by the retailer revealed that one in six Britons would be encouraged to switch to an electric car if more charging points were available across the UK.

IKEA is working with its sustainability partners, car manufacturer Nissan and green energy provider Ecotricity, to introduce the dedicated rapid charging points in all of its car parks so customers can confidently charge their vehicles while shopping in store. [Editor’s note: these charge points are also compatible with the Renault ZOE].

Developed by Nissan, the rapid charger units can recharge an electric vehicle, such as the 100% electric Nissan LEAF, from empty to 80% full in just thirty minutes and IKEA will be the first major retailer in the UK to make them available to its customers.

The rapid-chargers will be installed in all IKEA UK stores across the country by the end of December 2013. The charging points will be free for all customers to use and there’ll be no charge for the 100% sustainably sourced green electricity from Ecotricity.

IKEA has long taken the lead in developing and promoting products and solutions that help its customers save or generate energy, reduce or sort waste and use less water – all at the lowest possible price. Working alongside Nissan and Ecotricity, IKEA has installed the network to help strengthen rapid charging infrastructure in the UK and make zero emission driving a more practical and viable option for its customers.

Electric vehicles are a key part of IKEA Group’s sustainability strategy to produce as much renewable energy as it consumes by 2020. To get closer to that goal, the IKEA Group has set aside €1.5bn for investments in renewable energy up to 2015. IKEA UK has had hybrid vehicles as part of its delivery fleet for over six years and has a number of Nissan’s 100% electric LEAFs on loan as it looks to explore building a fleet of zero emission vehicles. The Nissan LEAF is the world’s best-selling electric vehicle and Nissan is working with IKEA stores across Europe to grow rapid charging infrastructure overseas.

Commenting about the announcement, Joanna Yarrow, Head of Sustainability IKEA UK and Ireland said:

“At IKEA we believe Electric Vehicles have a significant part to play in a more sustainable future. We know that our customers want to live more sustainably and that extends to how they get to and from our stores. By installing more charging points and strengthening the infrastructure nationally, we believe we can start to tackle one of the major barriers to using electric cars which is the fear of not finding a convenient place to charge the car.”

IKEA is working with Nissan who is providing the rapid charging technology and Ecotricity who is installing, operating and providing free green electricity, sourced from solar and wind power. The chargers will form part of the pioneering Electric Highway, which is rapidly expanding charging infrastructure at motorway services across Britain. Nissan has already installed 97 rapid chargers across the UK.

Jim Wright, managing director of Nissan Motor GB said:

“Growing the rapid charging network in the UK is absolutely crucial to the uptake of zero emission vehicles. “Nissan pioneered the electric vehicle market with the introduction of its best-selling LEAF, and now we are working hard to lead the way with the UK’s rapid charging network. We are delighted to be at the helm of a joint venture with Ecotricity and IKEA that will see more free-to-use rapid chargers go online, enabling thousands more motorists to enjoy all-electric mobility.”

Dale Vince, founder of Ecotricity, said:

“The Electric Highway is fast becoming vital to the electric car revolution. We began by installing fast-chargers on core motorways to enable electric vehicles to be driven on long journeys, and we are now including key destinations, of which IKEA are the first. Our vision is to be able to travel the length and breadth of the country in an electric car.”

Customers can find out when the new rapid-chargers are available in a given car park by visiting www.ecotricity.co.uk.

INTERNATIONAL Z.E. ROLLOUT – Episode 1: Turning the “sunlight” on ZOE, Twizy and Kangoo Z.E. in Reunion

Turning the “sunlight” on ZOE, Twizy and Kangoo Z.E. in Reunion (Image: Renault)
Turning the “sunlight” on ZOE, Twizy and Kangoo Z.E. in Reunion (Image: Renault)

Renault’s electric vehicles are currently available in 18 countries and continue to be launched in markets around the world. The rollout process will now be accompanied by a monthly saga article. The first focuses on the island of Reunion, where ZOE, Twizy and Kangoo Z.E. recently arrived in Renault dealerships. Local conditions in the new market led to the development of solar panel-powered charging stations, an innovative solution that means Renault electric vehicles here can run and charge in zero-emission mode.

GBH, Renault’s importer and distributor in Reunion, started selling Twizy, ZOE and Kangoo Z.E. on November 11, 2013 through long-term, five-year leasing contracts priced, respectively, at €299, €599 and €499 a month, VAT included.

2014 objective: a charging station every 15 kilometers

Reunion is ideally suited to the introduction of electric vehicles owing to its compact size, facilitating the link-up of charging stations, and the population’s average daily driving distance of just 24 kilometers.

Because public-access charging stations were vital to the launch of the three models, Renault worked upstream on the introduction of the infrastructure. Implementing a comprehensive charging network is easier here than in Metropolitan France as the stations are concentrated on the coast. Today, 19 charging stations are up and running, with the first users “filling up” their vehicles free of charge. The network is to be expanded to 27 stations by the end of 2013, with an objective of one station every 15 kilometers in 2014.

Zero-emission charging stations

In parallel with this charging network, Renault has joined forces with Sunzil to introduce private charging stations going under the name of “Autozil”. Autozil stations are equipped with solar canopies and roofs equipped with photovoltaic panels and an electricity storage system enabling the daily charge of electric vehicles, so motorists can charge their ZOE, Twizy or Kangoo Z.E. with “green” electricity independently of the network operated by the EDF utility.

Sainte Annne charging station (Image: Renault)
Sainte Annne charging station (Image: Renault)

The development of the innovative Autozil charging stations was motivated by a local constraint, namely that part of Reunion’s electricity is generated by CO2-emitting thermal power stations, which diminish the environmental benefit of electric vehicles. As an island, Reunion has very few connections with the continental electricity network. Also, the electricity supply-and-demand balance is more fragile here than on the continent. If all electric motorists were to charge their cars in the evening, during peak demand period, the fragility of the electricity network could be exacerbated, leading to power outages.

The situation required an “autonomous” charging infrastructure independent of the local electricity network. And Reunion has harnessed all its expertise in photovoltaic technology to meet that need.

Reunion’s photovoltaic expertise

With an average 52 peak watts of photovoltaic electricity per inhabitant (compared with the French average of 1.6 peak watts), Reunion has considerable solar resources and top-level expertise in photovoltaic panels. The photovoltaic sector on the island comprises some 70 companies for a total 500 megawatts.

VERT tests the electric vehicle ecosystem in Reunion

The VERT project (short for “Véhicule Electrique pour une Réunion Technologique”, or “Electric vehicles for a technological Reunion”), backed by seven public and private partners (Renault, Sunzil, Schneider Electric, EDF, Bernard Hayot Group and Total), was launched in 2010 to test the use of electric vehicles charged using CO2-virtuous solar-powered stations. The project, supported by ADEME*, originated as part of a government initiative to proactively promote electric mobility in Reunion, notably through the “Réussir Innovation” (“Succeeding in innovation”) program in the Grenelle environmental plan for Reunion.

VERT has laid the groundwork for the successful launch of electric vehicles in Reunion and comprehensively trialled vehicle charging using photovoltaic generators not connected to the electricity network.

The arrival of Renault electric vehicles in the island of Reunion is a first step in French overseas departments. In 2014, they’ll be on sale in French Guyana and French West Indies.

* ADEME: French environment and energy management agency on low-carbon vehicles

Renault ZOE to demo usability of EVs in cross European trip

Renault ZOE

A trip to demonstrate the capabilities of electric cars and the availability of the infrastructure to support them, will take one Renault ZOE some 854 miles from Munich to Barcelona.

The new eTourEurope preview trip will see EV fan Werner Hillebrand-Hansen take his car across five countries, arriving in Spain in time for the EV27 fair in the Catalonian capital. Starting in Inning am Ammersee, near Munich, Werner will take his electric car onto to Austria, before crossing through Switzerland and continuing across the south of France before driving over the Pyrenees to Spain.

For rest of story: TheGreenCarWebsite.co.uk.

Renault ZOE in Snow Socks

ZOE with AutoSock snow sock (Image: T. Larkum)
ZOE with AutoSock snow sock (Image: T. Larkum)

Like many British people, the first snow in winter tends to take me by surprise. This year I decided things would be different, and I would prepare in advance. This is partly because it will be my first winter with the ZOE and I’m not sure how well it will behave in snow.

My concerns are twofold. Firstly it is fitted with special EV tyres; these have ‘low rolling resistance’, which as I see it is another way of saying they don’t grip very well. Secondly, EVs do not have the low gearing available to a manual combustion car; driving in snow is a case where the EV feature of high torque available at low speeds is not an advantage.

We live in a short side road that is on a steep hill and so it is very difficult to get out of our road when there’s snow on the ground. However, once out of our road I usually find the roads cleared well enough for me to get to work, except perhaps for the last few hundred yards to the office.

I considered buying snow tyres but I didn’t want to have to store them the rest of the year, and I know that they would reduce range while fitted. I therefore compromised and recently bought a set of snow socks. For those not familiar with the idea, they are a relatively new Scandinavian invention consisting of Kevlar, fabric and mesh covers that fit over standard car tyres to give additional grip.

I tried mine out today, going through the complete process of fitting one to see what was involved. Essentially you pull it over and around the tyre except for the part that is in contact with the ground, then you move the car forward to complete the fitting. They naturally don’t fit entirely symmetrically, but apparently this is corrected automatically once you start driving. I didn’t test this, though, as there are clear instructions that they shouldn’t be driven far on tarmac. I have read that they can wear out completely in 10-20 miles on tarmac, but can last indefinitely if only used on snow.

The snow sock should centralise when driven (Image: T. Larkum)
The snow sock should centralise when driven (Image: T. Larkum)

The socks were a very tight fit – which I guess is a good thing in terms of grip. However, it did mean that they were harder to fit than I expected. In particular there is not a lot of room between the wheel arches and the wheels (the 16” alloys in my case) so it would be more difficult if you had large hands. Also, I suspect it may rule out using gloves which is not a nice thought in snowy conditions.

Based on my experience today I plan to allow up to half an hour to fit both socks, drive carefully out of the road, remove them again and pack them away. In fact, I have added a large bin bag to the equipment in my boot so I can bundle them into it when covered in messy snow.

Anyway, given that I was able to fit one today without incident, I feel pretty confident that I will be able to get them on and off in snowy conditions when I need to, and that they will make a great difference in driving ability. In particular, I’m sure they will enable me to get out of my steep road which is the main requirement – at that point I will remove them before continuing to work. I will also then have the option of fitting them at the other end if I need to.

Having researched various snow socks and suppliers on the Internet I decided to choose AutoSocks. They are, as I understand it, the original patent holders and certainly they have accreditation from various safety and motoring organisations to back it up. There are certainly cheaper suppliers but I suspect they take short cuts, for example skimping on the Kevlar.

AutoSocks can be found on Amazon, and the links are below. Of course other suppliers are available (those are affiliate links) – just Google ‘AutoSocks’ for other sources.

Anyway, I’ll post my experiences of how I get on if/when I get to use these snow socks. If you have used snow socks, snow chains or winter tyres on a ZOE then please add your experiences in the comments.

Of course, I’ll be hugely disappointed if there’s not lots of snow this winter!

Update:

Here’s a useful link for more information: AutoSock FAQ

and a Which video review: