Renault presents the keys of the first ZOE to Arnaud Montebourg


Renault presents the keys of the first ZOE to Arnaud Montebourg 

Renault ZOE delivered by Carlos Tavares to Arnaud Montebourg
Renault ZOE delivered by Carlos Tavares to Arnaud Montebourg
  • Renault has presented the keys of the first ZOE to Arnaud Montebourg, French Minister of Industrial Recovery.
  • The first delivery of ZOE, the first broadly affordable full-electric car, comes ahead of further deliveries set for between now and the end of 2012 and mass launch in the French Renault network in first-quarter 2013.
  • The delivery is fully in line with the French government’s policy, as set out in the “Plan Automobile”, of building a sector of clean and competitive vehicles. It also underscores the importance of introducing an extensive network of charging stations. 

After ordering a vehicle at the Paris Motor Show in September 2012, Arnaud Montebourg, Minister of Industrial Recovery, was presented today with the keys to the first ZOE in the Cour d’Honneur of the Bercy Finance Ministry by Carlos Tavares, Chief Operating Officer of the Renault group.

ZOE, the spearhead of Renault’s Z.E. range, is the Group’s first full-electric car. In France, the widely affordable car qualifies for a €7,000 government environmental bonus, bringing the starting price in France down to €13,700 (including VAT).  

ZOE targets private buyers and business customers alike. It is ideal for daily journeys and embodies Renault’s excellence in electric technology. The mobility-enhancing model features the most advanced technology in terms of range, user friendliness (with the installation of a charging station at motorists’ homes or workplaces) and connectivity. It is a key symbol of the Group’s commitment to the electric revolution.

The Minister of Industrial Recovery is the first customer to take delivery of ZOE before mass launch across the Renault’s French network in spring 2013.  

Commenting, Carlos Tavares, Chief Operating Officer of the Renault group, said: “The first ZOE delivery is a vital step in Renault’s electric vehicle offensive, aimed at making zero-emission mobility affordable for the greatest number. The commitment of the government and Mr Montebourg, as confirmed today, is a decisive advantage for making France a robust cornerstone of electric vehicle development and serves to reinforce Renault’s position as a French champion on the international stage.”  

The launch will be accompanied by the widespread development of public and private charging stations with the support of the taskforce headed by Philippe Hirtzman and tasked with stimulating and backing infrastructure projects in large urban agglomerations. 

The initiative is ideally embodied in the installation by the Ministry of Industrial Recovery of charging stations at the Bercy Finance Ministry. The move is part of the “Plan Automobile” announced by the French government on July 25, 2012 and providing for the installation of charging stations at government ministries and the inclusion of electric vehicles in public fleets. 

Key figures:

  • At end-October 2012, Renault had put 16,600 electric vehicles on the road in Europe.
  • At end-September 2012, Renault led the European electric PC + LCV market (excluding Twizy) with a 28.2% share.
  • Renault led the French EV market with sales of 4,566 units (including 1,999 Twizys) at end-October 2012.
  • Some 10,000 charging stations had been installed in Europe at end-2011. This figure has now risen to roughly 15,000 (up 50% on end-2011).
  • In France, the 2,000 to 3,000 Autolib stations are accessible to other EVs besides the Bluecars. Considerable efforts have been made in the Seine Aval area, in the Alsace, Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur and Nord-Pas-de-Calais regions, and in cities such as Rennes, Rouen and Angoulême. 

Latest on UK Orders 2

My Zoe Order (Image: T. Larkum)
My Zoe Order (Image: T. Larkum)

As I described previously, when my Zoe order was taken at my local Renault dealer at the very end of October I was informed that the required computer codes were not available, so the order could not be entered onto the Renault order computer until 9 November. After that things went very quiet – I have learnt since that the salesman I was dealing with had moved on. Anyway, I have a new contact at the dealership and my order has been confirmed (see picture).

As can be seen, the estimated delivery is March/April 2013.

From a recent visit I learnt that the latest expected date for the computerised ordering to become available is 2 January. At that point, fingers crossed, each order should have assigned to it a specific vehicle, with chassis number, and – it is to be hoped – a more definite delivery date.

Main Message at Zoe Launch is Silence

Zoe (Image: Renault)
Zoe (Image: Renault)

According to an article in Auto-Industry-Digest, Renault has performed an about-turn on its brand strategy as it tries to curb declining sales and under-utilisation of its factories. Renault now wants to find a niche somewhere between premium and mainstream brands. Renault has Dacia as a ‘smart buy’ brand to fill in at the lower end of the market, leaving itself clear to try to shift its image closer to that of Volkswagen. Renault also intends to add more diversity to its range.

Renault has recently launched the fourth-generation Clio as the staple of its range and will soon begin filling in niches, starting with a small Clio-based crossover early next year. A ‘cargo’ version of the Twizy electric quadricycle with extra storage space is also likely to appear in 2013.

However, Renault will use the quietness of electric cars as its main sales weapon when it introduces the Zoe, a battery-powered small hatchback, to the UK next year.

The French company already has three electric vehicles on sale in the UK – the mid-sized Fluence saloon, the scooter-like Twizy and a Kangoo van – and has been stressing advantages such as low operating costs to try to sell them. But with electric vehicle sales way below expectations so far, the Zoe is seen by Renault as the model which could make a breakthrough, so getting the sales message right is crucial.

Global sales and marketing director Stephen Norman, in an interview with Headlineauto, has said:

“When we launch in the UK the main message is going to be one of silence.

“We’re not pleased about the level of sales, but we are the European market leaders and, with Nissan, world leaders. The principal reason the market is not expanding more quickly is that the infrastructure is arriving more slowly than we thought.

“We also have work to do on our marketing communications. But what I don’t see in any market is a resistance to electric vehicles on a cultural level. We haven’t been able to communicate clearly enough with potential customers about what these vehicles are capable of doing.

“We have to get people into a position where they say ‘Why would I not have a Zoe?’”

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