All posts by Trevor Larkum

Software engineer and electric vehicle advocate

Zoe in RAC Future Car Challenge

Renault Zoe (Image:
Renault Zoe (Image:

According to the Green Car Website yesterday Renault has confirmed that the Zoe will participate in this year’s RAC Future Car Challenge. It has sufficient range to comfortably manage the 63 mile route from Brighton to London without recharging. Renault’s Andy Heiron said:

“Our main aim is to demonstrate through a combination of the coverage the vehicles and the event get and the independently validated results that electric vehicles are a practical, viable alternative to the internal combustion engine for a significant proportion of car buyers. We would hope to generate coverage and interest in the ZOE and use the results to validate what sort of range figures can be achieved in ‘real world’ conditions when an EV is well driven.”

Renault Ultrafast Charging

Renault Charging System (Image: Renault)
Renault Charging System (Image: Renault)

There was an interesting article about Renault charging technology on Auto-Addict earlier this month. It gave details on the charging system that I haven’t seen elsewhere, covering both the current system as described by Renault and a new system that has not officially been announced, so far as I know. On the current charging system:

“The ZOE will also be able to charge quickly (one hour at 22 kW, half an hour at 43 kW) without costly infrastructure thanks to its Chameleon charger accepting three-phase power available throughout the EDF distribution network. To understand the patented trick used by Renault, you should know that the electric motor is supplied with three-phase current, while a battery works in DC. Therefore, the idea is to use the electronic motor to transform – as during regenerative braking – the three phase current available cheaply on the network to DC acceptable to the battery. From other manufacturers, this current recovery must be performed by an external quick recharge terminal costing about 20,000 euros against 3,000 to 5,000 for the three-phase accepted by Renault.”

On ultrafast charging:

“On the same principle, Renault’s engineers are already working on ultrafast charging which will benefit the next generation of Renault electric cars. Through a liquid cooling system to avoid overheating the battery deleteriously, it will be able to accept three-phase 86 kW power, representing a 80% charge in about 8 minutes, or if you prefer, an increase of 100 km in range, time to drink a coffee at the counter of the gas station…”

Zoe Orders Are Open

Zoe at Paris Motor Show (Image: Automobile-Propre)
Zoe at Paris Motor Show (Image: Automobile-Propre)

According to Automobile Propre, orders are now open for the Zoe, but discreetly – Renault is not yet advertising the fact. Specifically, Renault will take an order for the Zoe on the Renault stand at the Paris Motor Show, but it is not yet clear whether Renault dealers are able to take orders from customers.

Also, on deliveries:

“90 Renault Zoe will be delivered by the end of the year, the rest should be from late February / early March 2013.”

Zoe at Paris Motor Show 2012

Zoe at Paris Motor Show (Image:
Zoe at Paris Motor Show (Image:

The Mondial De l’Automobile show has just got underway in Paris. It runs from 29 September to 14 October and is Renault’s most significant event. This year sees Renault debut its new Clio, and also show off the Zoe for the last time before the start of deliveries.

According to its press release:

“Renault ZOE: The spearhead of Renault’s Z.E. Technology and Innovation Drives.”

Zoe at Paris Motor Show (Image: P. Fairley/TechnologyReview)
Zoe at Paris Motor Show (Image: P. Fairley/TechnologyReview)

Certainly EVs don’t seem to be going away. Technology Review takes the encouraging view:

“Despite a few automakers backing away from electric cars, they are alive and well at the Paris auto show.”

Zoe News September 2012 Week 4 – Béatrice Foucher, BFMTV

Béatrice Foucher

Béatrice Foucher (Image:
Béatrice Foucher (Image:

On 25 September reported an interview with Béatrice Foucher, Director of Renault’s Electric Programme since the start of this month. She said that Zoe’s range is not the real issue in the decision to purchase:

“Rational and emotional elements come into play. The cost of fuel is very important. (…) Buying an electric vehicle is also an emotional choice, the pleasure of being ahead, to align ones thoughts and actions. The majority of users consider themselves ‘pioneers’ and certainly do not want to backtrack.”

She also made an interesting comment on planned sales, something not often made public:

“In 2012, Renault hopes to sell 20,000 EVs.”


Ahead of the Paris Motor Show the BFMTV team posted a video of their test drive of the Zoe.