All posts by Jo Pegram-Mills

Renault Gets an Electric Car to Write Jack Kerouac Fan Fiction via Artificial Intelligence

A new campaign for Renault in Sweden sees its Zoe electric car “write” Jack Kerouac fan fiction for test drivers via artificial intelligence.

According to agency Edelman Deportivo, one of the major obstacles to widespread electric-car adoption is commonly labelled “range anxiety,” or the fear that a vehicle has insufficient range to reach its destination. So the effort aims to show how far a Renault can go in a single charge, by showing a car going where no other has gone before — by turning automobile into “author.”

The “Written by Zoe” promotes the Zoe, which has a 400km range. The brand obtained permission from the the estate of Jack Kerouac to write authorized fan fiction stories based on the themes and style of writing of his novel “On the Road” (which celebrates its 60th anniversary this year).

The “stories” are entirely composed through live driving data from Stockholm test drives in the Zoe, with the help of AI-technology. The idea is that, by analyzing “On The Road” and using the car’s internal and external sensor data to turn it into contextual storylines, the system writes unique stories for each driver.

Read more: Creativity Online via Fuel Included news

Renault Zoe vs rivals – cost analysis

We’re all pretty clued-up about the benefits to zero-emission driving these days. Not only do electric cars help to improve air quality, lower your SMR costs and bring a reduction in BIK tax bills, they also deliver huge savings by not relying on fuel.

According to many experts, we are now getting very close to mass adoption of electric cars here in the UK. But they’re still a niche choice for many fleets because higher P11D prices and anxieties over range remain key stumbling blocks.

A whole-life cost approach is essential and, as discussed in the previous pages, they have to be fit for purpose to provide enough savings to outweigh the initial cost. But technology is improving at a considerable rate and battery ranges are increasing with every update.

The Renault Zoe

Refreshed in 2016, now offers an official 250-mile range – the best the sector has to offer, Tesla aside.

According to the French carmaker, if you use the most efficient means possible, like charging at night, running a Zoe could cost as little as 2p per mile in warmer weather, rising to 3ppm when the nights draw in. As well as offering the best range of our four cars here, the Zoe is also the cheapest to buy with P11D prices starting as low as £18,440. Despite some disappointing residual values, which are a common theme for most electric cars currently, the Zoe is the cheapest per mile too, costing 52.9p.

Renault Zoe Dynamique Nav 41kWh R90 – 52.2p CPM
P11D: £27,890
CO2 (tax): 0g/km (7%)
BIK 20/40% per month: £33/£65
Official range: 250 miles
National Insurance: £1,116
Boot space: 338 litres
Battery size/power: 41kW/92hp
0-62mph: 13.5 seconds
Residual value: 18.7%/£5,225
Fuel costs: £600
SMR: £890

Nissan Leaf

The biggest-selling electric car here in the UK by some margin, the Nissan Leaf also had a battery upgrade in 2016, which saw its range increase up to 155 miles.

Not only is the Leaf the most popular of our models here, it’s also the most practical, offering a 355-litre boot and the most interior space. The Nissan is also easy to drive and comfortable over longer distances.

Nissan Leaf Acenta 30kWh
P11D: £30,235
CO2 (tax): 0g/km (7%)
BIK 20/40% per month: £35/£71
Official range: 153 miles
National Insurance: £1,210
Boot space: 355 litres
Battery size/power: 30kW/111hp
0-62mph: 11.5 seconds
Residual value: 16.9%/£5,100
Fuel costs: £980
SMR: £1,029

BMW i3

First launched in 2013, the i3 not only marked the start of BMW’s EV model range, it also moved the game forwards considerably for electric car technology as a whole. It was a game-changer in every sense, and although it’s struggled to gain momentum in sales against its rivals, the i3 has remained one of the most desirable and technologically advanced electric cars on the market.

A battery update in 2016 doubled the car’s range to 195 miles officially on one charge, although the carmaker believes 125 miles is more realistic in real-world conditions, plus the i3 is also fitted with a new charging system that is 50% faster.

BMW i3 94ah eDrive
P11D: £32,485
CO2 (tax): 0g/km (7%)
BIK 20/40% per month: £38/£76
Official range: 195 miles
National Insurance: £1,300
Boot space: 260 litres
Battery size/power: 33kW/170hp
0-62mph: 7.3 seconds
Residual value: 30.2%/£9,825
Fuel costs: £1,200
SMR: £1,216

Hyundai IONIQ

The first car to be available in hybrid, plug-in hybrid and electric forms, the Ioniq moved Hyundai into new territory when the car was launched last year. It’s all part of the firm’s plans to have as many as 28 eco-friendly models on sale by 2020.

Arguably the most eye-catching of the four cars, the Ioniq also has one of the biggest boots, and its official 174-mile range is one of the best on offer here too. RVs, as we explained earlier, leave a lot to be desired for EVs in general; however, the Ioniq still manages to better both the Zoe and Leaf at 20.3%, and only the Renault is cheaper per mile for whole-life costs.

Hyundai Ioniq Premium
P11D: £28,940
CO2 (tax): 0g/km (7%)
BIK 20/40% per month: £34/£68
Official range: 174 miles
National Insurance: £1,158
Boot space: 350 litres
Battery size/power: 28kW/120hp
0-62mph: 10.2 seconds
Residual value: 20.3%/£5,875
Fuel costs: £862
SMR: £1,222

Read more: Business Car Fuel Included news

The Eco Tour Di Sicilia And Renault Zoe Help Put Italy’s Cultural Heritage Centre Stage

  • Renault signs partnership agreements with Sicily by Car and Enel, two prominent mobility players in Italy, to launch the Eco Tour di Sicilia
  • The first of its kind, the Eco Tour di Sicilia will showcase Sicily’s rich culture while protecting its environment by employing a fleet of 200 Renault ZOE

Renault today announced the signing of an exclusive partnership with Sicily by Car, a leading car rental company in Italy, and Enel, the country’s largest energy supplier, to roll out the Eco Tour di Sicilia. This initiative by Sicily by Car will make it possible to tour the whole of Sicily exclusively by electric car and will add 200 Renault ZOEs to Sicily by Car’s fleet.

The first of its kind in Italy and Europe, the Eco Tour di Sicilia aims to overcome the obstacles that hamper green mobility in Sicily, such as limited vehicle range or a lack of charging stations.

ZOE is currently the only mass-market electric car on the market to offer an NEDC range of 250 miles, equivalent to about 186 miles in real-world conditions. The eco-tour project will also deploy a network of charging stations on the island: up to 400 Enel chargers are to be installed in the region’s principal cities and along tourist itineraries. Residents will be able to use these public charging stations for their own electric vehicles. The opportunity to take a long road trip while enjoying regular access to charging points will bring unexplored freedom of movement to all-electric travel in both urban and rural settings.

Bernard Chrétien, CEO, Renault Italy said:

“By supporting e-mobility, we are enhancing and protecting the extraordinary natural, artistic and cultural heritage of which the Sicily region is such an excellent example.”

An electric vehicle is a zero-emissions[1] form of mobility and the ideal means of transport to fight the greenhouse effect responsible for global warming. Electric vehicles are also key to cleaner air and better health for city dwellers. And since they do not run on fossil fuels, they help drive the automobile industry’s energy transition.

Source: Groupe Renault via Fuel Included news

2017 Renault Zoe review: A cure for range anxiety

It’s just like the original Zoe, but this version of Renault’s electric car goes on and on.

Portugal, Renault, and electric cars are becoming indivisibly linked in my mind. I test drove the Renault Fluence in Lisbon in November 2011, and then the Renault Zoe a few miles up the coast in March 2013. I liked both cars, but with effective touring ranges of around 80 miles, I’d be the first to admit they had their limitations.

The latest version of the Zoe, the Z.E. 40, is an attempt to address that limitation. While the 2013 model had a 22kWh battery, the 2017 incarnation packs nearly twice as much energy: 41kWh, to be precise, with a real-world range of about 190 miles.

Renault ZOE (image: Ars Technica)

Same-sized battery, twice the range

The increase in battery capacity is a pretty impressive achievement when you consider that the lithium-ion pack occupies the same space as the old unit and weighs only 15 kilos more.

Developed by LG Chem, the new battery has improved chemistry and a redesigned internal structure that has increased the active surface area within the cells by 10 percent. The individual cells are now also thicker and the empty space between them has been reduced. If that all sounds a bit vague, it’s because neither Renault or LG Chem are about to spill the really interesting technical beans.

Renault ZOE, Battery illustration (image: Renault)

The end result of fitting a higher-capacity battery is that the Zoe 40 has an NEDC-certified range of 250 miles or, as Renault freely admits, a real-world summer range of 186 miles. It reckons that figure drops to 124 miles in full-on winter running.

Fair weather notwithstanding I didn’t quite manage to hit that magic 186-mile range. On two long-distance runs that included a mix of high-speed motorway driving and energetic hustling along Portugal’s back roads, I managed to get 175 and 163 miles from two full charges.

The second run included a rapid approach into Lisbon along the A8 from Caldas da Rainha with my foot down and the Zoe bowling along at close to its maximum speed. The weather was mild during the test so the climate-control system was seldom needed, but a fair amount of night-time driving was involved. The Zoe’s headlights may be efficient but they are also dismal.

Considering that on both days of the test I found myself running behind schedule and was therefore driving in a manner that I’d politely describe as energetic, I was happy with those range numbers. Improving on them really wouldn’t have been difficult.

But as with all electric cars it’s the psychology of range that is as important as the actuality. Because each morning the Zoe 40 told me I had a minimum of around 180 miles of range rather than 90 I didn’t experience the kind of range anxiety induced by the original model.

Even when forced to double back in the middle of nowhere because of a flooded road, take a 15 mile detour, and drive down a rutted track in the pitch dark (satnavs and Portugal are not a stellar combination), my range-sphincter didn’t pucker.

Read more: Ars Technica via Fuel Included news

Renault optimizes the lifecycle of its electric vehicle batteries

Renault pioneered the development of electric vehicles in Europe, and leads the European electric vehicle market today. The vehicle batteries are rented to customers, and have been since release of Renault’s very first electric vehicle. In this way, Renault keeps full control over the whole battery lifecycle, which is advantageous not only to customers but to the planet as well.

Renault was the first European automaker to believe in the all-electric vehicle. Back in 2009, Carlos Ghosn announced a strategy that was ambitious and unprecedented on the market: Groupe Renault would be offering a full range of affordable all-electric vehicles by 2012. The promise was kept, with release of a line-up of electric vehicles addressing a broad customer spectrum: ZOE, Kangoo ZE and Twizy, plus Master ZE later this year in Europe, and RSM SM3 ZE in Korea.

image: Groupe Renault

Circular economy and battery lifecycle

Some 93% of Renault’s electric vehicle customers rent the batteries that power their cars. Because Renault owns the batteries, it can optimize both the usage and the end-of-life phases in the battery lifecycle.

Renault electric vehicle batteries are managed to a three-stage circular-economy approach:

image: Groupe Renault

1) Optimum battery life in the car

Renault monitors the battery condition in real-time and can therefore ensure an optimum battery lifespan at the on-the-road phase.

Renault repair centres can also repair defective batteries in the vast majority of instances. And any batteries that do prove irreparable for in-vehicle use continue active service in stationary energy storage applications.

2) Battery reuse off the road

When a battery falls below 75% charge capacity and can no longer meet the demanding requirements of providing vehicle power, it can nevertheless continue to provide valuable energy storage service in less demanding applications. Since renewable energy sources such as solar panels have an inherently intermittent output, local production is optimized by storing the energy in batteries.
Renault is an active member of several national and European green energy projects that use electric vehicle batteries in this kind of stationary energy storage application.

3) Battery recycling

Renault implements a specific recycling process and works on improving its materials recovery practices, with partners such as Veolia.

Recycling starts with removing the battery’s cells (the electrochemical elements that store energy). The other battery materials are either reused or recycled through conventional processes. The cells are processed by specialist Renault partners using a hydro-metallurgical process for recovering metals such as copper, cobalt, nickel and lithium.

Read more: Groupe Renault via Fuel Included news

Renault Increased EV Sales By 56% In February, Thanks To New ZOE

Renault didn’t show any of the seasonal slowdown experience found elsewhere in Europe. In fact the French automaker noted one of its best months ever for EV sales in February.

In total, more than 3,100 electric cars were sold (excluding the Twizy), which was 56% more than year ago.

Image: Inside EVs

Compared alongside total Renault car sales, EVs held a 1.6% share during the month.

Despite Renault offering several models in its EV lineup, in reality there is ZOE and a few other asterisks…at least when it comes to sales. Last month ZOE deliveries amounted to roughly 2,850 registrations – up 75% year-over-year, while Kangoo Z.E., in second spot, barely exceeded 250.

With a 3,000+ monthly results, Renault should cross the all-time, 100,000 all-electric car sales mark (full size, excluding Twizy) in March or April. An impressive showing for really a Europe-only brand.

Source: Inside EVs via Fuel Included news

85% of drivers ‘more seriously’ considering EV thanks to Government investment

The majority (85%) of respondents to a survey by Venson Automotive Solutions say they are now ‘more seriously’ considering buying an electric vehicle (EV) or choosing one as a company car in light of investment from the motor industry, Government and major oil companies.

The Government recently announced that it is putting in place new measures to improve provision of EV charge points as part of the Vehicle Technology and Aviation Bill, and oil supermajors Total and Shell have said that they will be making charging points a standard feature at fuel stations.

Although the commitment by industry and Government to remove purchasing barriers is having a positive influence, the survey also highlights that a focus on educating motorists on the ownership benefits – over and above the environmental benefits – is still needed.

Around two-fifths (41%) of the 100 drivers that responded to the survey said their general lack of knowledge about the total cost or convenience of owning such a vehicle impacted their decision making so Venson is urging fleet managers to arm employees with the tools needed to make an informed company car ownership choice.

Venson’s survey findings reported that the lack of charge points across the UK has been the biggest deterrents for motorists (69%), when it comes to buying or choosing an electric vehicle. Limited mileage range came second (61%), with the cost of charging the vehicle (42%) in third place.

Women (31%) were more reluctant than men (15%) to consider buying or leasing an EV because of the lack of opportunity to ‘try before you buy’.  The cost of insuring an EV is one of the lowest concerns, with only 19% of motorists seeing this as a deterrent and battery safety fears the least of motorists’ EV worries.

Alison Bell, marketing director of Venson Automotive Solutions, said:

“It’s really encouraging to see that public attitudes to electric vehicles are significantly shifting, as the industry invests in the necessary infrastructure. Clearly, Total and Shell’s move to install more charging points is critical in giving motorists the confidence when it comes to choosing EV or hybrid.”

Source: FleetLeasing via Fuel Included news

How I’m saving a small fortune on my commute with an Electric Car

Receiving my monthly bill from Chargemaster makes me happy. Let me explain….

Chargemaster Plc is the company that provides the majority of Milton Keynes electric car charging points and since I only charge publicly I am billed by them for all of my ‘fuel’ consumption.

Working in Central Milton Keynes, I am lucky to have a vast network of charging points available to me, I charge mostly during my working day, as and when I need to. I also benefit from free parking under the Green Permit Scheme which covers all standard bays (purple) and some premium bays (red), both can be found across the city centre area.

Last month’s bill really did highlight to me the huge cost savings owning an Electric Car has given me, and why every commuter in Central Milton Keynes should consider getting one.

Check this out…

Petrol Car

Electric Car

Fuel cost per day

£3 (approx.)*

£0.71**

Parking

£18 (£2 per hr x9)

£0

Total cost per day for parking & fuel

£21

£0.71

Total for the period

(11 working days)

 

 

£231

Estimated

£17.20

Actual cost billed by Chargemaster PLC

(inclusive of Polar subscription fee)

Averaged over a working year (261 days)

£5,481

£408.11

*Based on my 15 mile round trip commute @ 20p per mile.

** Averaged daily cost from bill, includes ALL mileage not just commutable distance.

Source: Fuel Included blog

Spring has sprung and it’s not just my Renault ZOE that’s smiling

Summer is on its way, the sun is shining and I’m full of energy, much like my Renault ZOE.

On a beautiful sunny day last week, I returned to my fully charged electric car, did my usual reset of ‘Trip B’ on the right hand stalk and looked at my estimated range – it gave me a lovely reading of 89 miles (22kWh ZOE).

Although winter range isn’t a big problem (us eco warriors are made of sterner stuff), there is something quite satisfying when you see the estimated range increase by about 15 miles, simply because it’s warm and sunny outside, and it’s still only spring.

I’m told the range increases because chemical reactions work better at higher temperatures, and obviously a chemical reaction must take place to create energy. But I quite like to imagine my Renault ZOE as a true sun worshipper, rejoicing in the change of season.

Source: Fuel Included blog