EcoVelocity Show 5-13 May 2012

EcoVelocity Show May 2012 (Photo: T. Larkum)
EcoVelocity Show May 2012 (Photo: T. Larkum)

I visited the EcoVelocity Motor Show on 13 May to try out some hybrid and electric cars first hand. This ‘Green Motor Show’ covers all low carbon cars, from economical petrol cars through hybrids to full electric cars:

“The low carbon market is developing and improving at a fantastic rate and we are very excited to be supporting the shift towards a brighter, cleaner motoring future. With new vehicle technologies emerging rapidly, EcoVelocity is the ideal event to discover and sample many of them. We also hope you’ll discover the many benefits and pleasures of owning a low carbon vehicle including substantial grants, road tax and congestion charge exemption to name a few, as well as reducing your environmental impact.”

To me there were two disappointments to the show. Firstly it was small, and I imagine it only had as many visitors as it did by being run alongside the much larger Grand Designs Live show. Secondly, there was no Renault stand, though I did manage to see a Kangoo electric van on the EDF stand, and a Twizy quadricycle in the Grand Designs hall. Nonetheless, it was very useful to get to see so many EVs and hybrids together in one place, and have the opportunity to test drive a selection of them.

Renault Twizy at Grand Designs Live Show (Photo: T. Larkum)
Renault Twizy at Grand Designs Live Show (Photo: T. Larkum)

This event was the first time I saw a number of electric cars and plug-in hybrids ‘in the flesh’. There was a ‘supercar’ stand near the entrance that featured a Tesla Roadster EV, a Delta Motorsport E4 Coupe EV, a Lightning GT EV and a Fisker Karma plug-in hybrid.

Tesla Roadster and other Electric Supercars at EcoVelocity 2012 (Photo: T. Larkum)
Tesla Roadster and other Electric Supercars at EcoVelocity 2012 (Photo: T. Larkum)

Further in there were dedicated stands as follows:

    • Citroën, including the C-Zero EV (a rebadged Mitsubishi i-MIEV)
Citroen C-Zero at EcoVelocity 2012 (Photo: T. Larkum)
Citroen C-Zero at EcoVelocity 2012 (Photo: T. Larkum)
    • Vauxhall, including the Ampera plug-in hybrid (a rebadged Chevrolet Volt) and a RAKe quadricycle
Vauxhall Ampera at EcoVelocity 2012 (Photo: T. Larkum)
Vauxhall Ampera at EcoVelocity 2012 (Photo: T. Larkum)
    • Nissan, showcasing the LEAF EV
Nissan LEAF at EcoVelocity 2012 (Photo: T. Larkum)
Nissan LEAF at EcoVelocity 2012 (Photo: T. Larkum)
    • Chevrolet, including the Volt plug-in hybrid
Chevrolet Volt at EcoVelocity 2012 (Photo: T. Larkum)
Chevrolet Volt at EcoVelocity 2012 (Photo: T. Larkum)
    • Mia, with a selection of Mia EVs
Mia EV at EcoVelocity 2012 (Photo: T. Larkum)
Mia EV at EcoVelocity 2012 (Photo: T. Larkum)
    • EDF Energy, including a Renault Kangoo Z.E. electric van and a Peugeot iOn EV (a rebadged Mitsubishi i-MIEV).
Renault Kangoo Van at EcoVelocity 2012 (Photo: T. Larkum)
Renault Kangoo Van at EcoVelocity 2012 (Photo: T. Larkum)
  • Peugeot, including the 508 – the first example of a hybrid diesel.

There were also some smaller supplier stands that featured EVs (including a Mitsubishi i-MIEV, another Tesla Roadster and another Nissan LEAF).

The best thing about this event was that it included a dedicated track for test driving the various vehicles being shown – in fact, a small under cover track leading to a long road circuit around Docklands. Although test drives were intended to be booked in advance I managed to get some through a combination of arriving early, and revisiting stands regularly checking for ‘no shows’. My first drive was in a Nissan LEAF EV and it was very enjoyable. It was my first drive in any EV, so I was concerned it might turn out to be a disappointment but it was as smooth, quiet and ‘high-tech’ as I had hoped.

Nissan LEAF - My First EV Test Drive (Photo: T. Larkum)
Nissan LEAF – My First EV Test Drive (Photo: T. Larkum)

Next I drove the Vauxhall Ampera plug-in hybrid. I must say I was very impressed with it – just getting into the driver’s seat gave a feeling of climbing into ‘Starship Enterprise’. Personally I’m keen on getting a fully electric car, but I can certainly see the temptation of an Ampera or Volt. It was very smooth and effortless to drive, certainly an experience apart from an ordinary petrol car.

Vauxhall Ampera - My First Plug-in Hybrid Test Drive (Photo: T. Larkum)
Vauxhall Ampera – My First Plug-in Hybrid Test Drive (Photo: T. Larkum)

Finally I got to drive a Peugeot 508 diesel hybrid. It was impressive, particularly the smoothness of the transition from electric to diesel power, but having experienced the ‘EV’ experience of a plug-in I have no interest in ‘old fashioned’ soft hybrids, even though I can appreciated the cleverness of the technology.

To conclude the day I attended presentations by Robert Llewellyn (well known for his EV advocacy, and Fully Charged podcasts) and Andy Heiron (Head of Electric Vehicle Programme – Renault UK).

I have put a full set of photographs of the day online on Flickr.

Zoe News May 2012 – Koskas Interview

Zoe at Paris Motor Show (Photo: AutoNews.com)
Zoe at Paris Motor Show (Photo: AutoNews.com)

On 11 May Automotive News Europe gave details of an interview conducted with Thierry Koskas, Renault’s EV Project Director where it was said that Renault expects the Zoe to far outsell the Nissan LEAF (the current world’s best-selling EV) in Europe. With an annual production capacity for the Zoe of 150,000 units, the subcompact would be the volume model among Renault’s four-model EV range, which includes the Fluence large sedan, Kangoo car-derived van and scooter-style Twizy.

Koskas told Automotive News Europe:

“The Zoe is the first electric car in Europe that will address the needs of the mass-consumer market.

“The Zoe is a next-generation car. It is launching two years later than the Leaf. The Zoe will benefit from technologies that the Leaf does not have, such as a braking energy-recovery system, a heat pump, and a special series of energy efficient tires.”

The interview was also reported on 4 Wheels News.

My Registration for a Renault Zoe

Zoe Page on Renault Website
Zoe Page on Renault Website

On 1 May 2012 I took the plunge and registered for a Renault Zoe. I had toyed with the idea for a couple of months – in fact I don’t know why I took so long to decide. The process is simple (in the UK at least) – just follow the link on the Renault website (shown above). You get a small popup windows that says:

View the benefits of reserving online
Become a member and benefit from exclusive advantages such as:

  • A dedicated e-newsletter with exclusive content
  • An online area dedicated to all those who have reserved a Z.E.
  • Visuals never revealed to the public
  • Videos with tips from the people who designed ZOE.
  • Hot news
  • Exclusive goodies
  • For just £49, reserve a Renault ZOE and join the Z.E. community!

along with a link to detailed Terms and conditions. You then get to the ‘configuration’ screen where you choose the options you want on your Zoe:

Zoe Configuration Page
Zoe Configuration Page

The options are:

  • Zoe Version: Expression, Dynamique – Zen or Dynamique – Intens (more on these elsewhere on the site)
  • Colour: Glacier – White (no charge), Arctic White (£600), Energy blue (£460), Neptune Grey (£460) or Azur Blue (£300)
  • Wheels: 15″ Arobase trims (no charge), 16″ Aerotronic alloys (£310) or 17″ ‘Tech Run’ alloys (£620)

The only choice for the battery hire is the ‘BL Subscription’ of £70pa for 36 months, 6000 miles/year – presumably this can be changed at a later date as it’s a very low mileage for the average car owner.

Finally it remained to put in personal details and payment method. Shortly afterwards I got my confirmation by email:

Zoe Reservation Confirmation Email
Zoe Reservation Confirmation Email

So I am officially the 172nd person to reserve a Renault ZOE (in the UK, I believe).

Zoe News April 2012 – Michelin Tyres, Fleet Show Debut, Voice Samples

Michelin Tyres

Michelin Tyres for Zoe (Image: Michelin Tyres)
Michelin Tyres for Zoe (Image: Michelin Tyres)

On 11 April 2012 Michelin gave details of the tyres that would equip the ZOE, as previously announced by Renault at the ZOE Preview launch:

“All Renault ZOE models equipped with 15 and 16-inch tyres will be fitted with the new MICHELIN ENERGY™ E-V tyres. These innovative products are in line with the carmaker’s Range OptimiZEr approach for the Renault ZOE, which integrates an array of innovations designed to improve the vehicle’s range in all driving conditions. In near-urban use, for example, the MICHELIN ENERGY™ E-V tyres increase the ZOE’s range by up to 6%, depending on the type of use.

The tire plays a key role in vehicle energy consumption. Tyres account for up to 30% of the energy consumed by an electric powertrain. With each rotation of the wheel, a tire is deformed when it comes into contact with the road. As its structure is deformed, the components heat up and some of the energy transmitted by the engine is lost. Reducing this heat build-up also reduces energy consumption, but the technologies developed by Michelin go much further. While the MICHELIN ENERGY™ E-V tire heats up little when driving, thus reducing energy consumption, the rubber in the contact patch heats up quickly when the brakes are applied, thereby shortening braking distances.”

It is interesting to note the mixed spelling of ‘tire’/‘tyre’, presumably evidence of editing for different markets.

EV & Low CO2 Fleet Show

Renault Zoe at EV & Low CO2 Fleet Show (Image: EVFleetShow.co.uk)
Renault Zoe at EV & Low CO2 Fleet Show (Image: EVFleetShow.co.uk)

The Zoe made its first showing as a production car for the British market on the Renault stand at the EV & Low CO2 Fleet Show. This took place on 18 April at Silverstone, as reported in the Renault Business magazine:

“The Renault Zoe and the other vehicles in the Renault Z.E. range made their first appearance at the Fleet World EV & Low CO2 Fleet Show in April, marking the first time all four models had been shown together in the UK in production form. Held at the newly opened Silverstone Wing at the world-famous race circuit, the event was aimed at giving senior fleet decision-makers the opportunity to explore and test-drive the latest electric, hybrid and low-carbon technologies and discuss them with industry experts during seminar sessions.

“Kangoo Van Z.E. and Fluence Z.E. saloon were both available to drive, while delegates relished their first opportunity to get behind the wheel of the Twizy ahead of its sales launch. Fresh from its unveiling at the Geneva Motor Show in March, the show also marked the UK debut of the production ZOE, specially shipped in from France for the day, which drew many admiring glances and questions from visitors.”

Zoe Voices

Zoe Voice Samples
Zoe Voice Samples

In the same month Renault made available samples of the ‘ZE Voice’ pedestrian warning sounds. The Voice system is active between 1 and 30km/h and is intended to alert those nearby of the car’s presence in a choice of three different alarm systems. Take a listen and see what you think.

My preference would be ‘Glam’ (despite the name) as it sounds a bit futuristic to me, which seems appropriate.

Electric Car Spotting

So far this year I have seen just two electric cars ‘in the wild’ – i.e. driving around as ordinary cars, rather than at shows. Today it was a Reva G-Wiz in Milton Keynes, a few months back it was a Renault Fluence on the Northampton ring road.

While it would be easy to be disheartened at how rare electric cars appear to be on UK roads, I’m actually more positive than that – particularly as I didn’t notice any last year.

Perhaps more significant and encouraging is just how far and fast these cars and general EV technology are developing. Compare the looks of the G-Wiz (a darling of Londoners since 2004) with the Fluence Z.E. of 2011.

Reva G-Wiz Electric Vehicle (Image: kenjonbro/Creative Commons)
Reva G-Wiz Electric Vehicle (Image: kenjonbro/Creative Commons)

Renault Z.E. Electric Car (Image: Renault)
Renault Z.E. Electric Car (Image: Renault)

Of course, both are surpassed by the Renault Zoe!

Your one stop source for news and updates on the Renault ZOE. For the latest prices and deals with free charging visit FuelIncluded.com.