First UK TV EV advert

I saw my first UK TV advert for an electric car this week, a Nissan LEAF:

Car manufacturers are notoriously reluctant to advertise electric cars, perhaps because they don’t feel that the resulting sales (which, let’s be honest, will be smaller than an equivalent fossil car for some time to come) justify the high costs. It is therefore refreshing to see one on TV – even if it was late at night on a satellite channel. Who knows, maybe Renault will be next with one for the Zoe – fingers crossed!

Renault Zoe – Quite Simply Revolutionary

Renault have released a new commercial video for the Zoe – it came out last month but I missed it then (a nod to My E-Life Now for pointing it out). Personally I think it’s a bit too ‘eco’, tree-hugger style, which I don’t think is the best way to sell large quantities of the Zoe to the mass market.

But anyway, I’d say it’s certainly better than the previous one which told you nothing at all about the Zoe, and didn’t even show it well. I guess it was a ‘teaser’ to start interest – I certainly couldn’t see it getting many people to look into buying one.

Renault Introduces World’s Largest Photovoltaic System in the Automotive Industry



Renault inaugurates the world’s largest photovoltaic system in the automotive industry (Image: Renault)
Renault inaugurates the world’s largest photovoltaic system in the automotive industry (Image: Renault)

This week Renault is introducing 40 hectares of photovoltaic panels simultaneously at six of its French production sites. The initiative further confirms Renault’s environmental commitment and is also an innovative way of protecting new vehicles before they leave plants.

Renault this week is introducing 400,000 square meters (equal to 60 soccer pitches) of photovoltaic panels, making the system the world’s largest in the automotive industry. The panels are located at six covered, ISO 14001-certified sites – Douai, Maubeuge, Flins, Batilly, Sandouville and Cléon – in delivery and shipping centers and employee parking areas.

The entire surface area is covered with photovoltaic panels developing total power of 59 MW and able to produce 52,600 MWh of electricity a year, enough for a town of 15,000 people. On average, photovoltaic solar plants have total power of around 1 MW.

The system is made up as follows:







Panel Surface area (m2)







Electricity production (MWh a yr)







  • Renault’s photovoltaic installations will help to make a 200-tonne reduction in the CO2 emitted annually by electric engine production (calculated on the basis of the energy mix in France), the equivalent of 550 round-the-world trips by an internal-combustion vehicle emitting an average 100 g/km of CO2 or a fleet of roughly 1,500 vehicles each travelling 15,000 km a year.
  • The photovoltaic system also showcases the Group’s expertise in renewable energies. Sustainable ratings agencies have for a number of years ranked Renault among the most “virtuous” companies in terms of environmental management, particularly on carbon strategy. Renault continued to figure among the frontrunners in the 2011 rankings from SAM, Carbon Disclosure Project and Oekow Research.

The initiative is also an innovative way of protecting new vehicles before delivery to the sales network because it limits storm damage. The panels are designed to resist impact and hail in particular.

The photovoltaic project was developed by Renault, project initiator and coordinator, in its role as lessor, together with its partners Gestamp Solar and Coruscant (Cléon only), in their role as operational project managers.

The system is also being rolled out internationally. The Group is to set up nearly 100,000 square meters of photovoltaic panels at the Valladolid and Palencia plants through an agreement with Cenit Solar, while feasibility studies are underway in Slovenia, Morocco, Brazil, Colombia, Chile and Romania. Further projects are being introduced at the Busan site in South Korea, with 300,000 square meters scheduled for finalization in December 2012.

My Registration for a Renault Zoe – 2

Before orders for the Zoe get underway I should finish writing up my experiences of reserving one, as I started here. Two months after registering I received my first ‘free gift’ from Renault, a Zoe-themed notebook:

Zoe Notebook
Zoe Notebook

A couple of weeks later I received an email about a special offer of free ‘Zoe’ training shoes:

Zoe Trainers Email
Zoe Trainers Email

I took up the offer; things went quiet for a couple of months and then they arrived:

Zoe Training Shoes (Image: T. Larkum)
Zoe Training Shoes (Image: T. Larkum)

The trainers aren’t bad, and are reasonably comfortable most of the time – except, ironically, when used for driving.

Free gifts are all well and good, but they aren’t why I reserved a Zoe. I did that to get to the front of the queue for a Zoe order – at least, I assumed that would be the case at the time, and there have been rumours to that effect since. Specifically it has been stated that Zoe reservers would get early notification of the opening of Zoe orders, and have a period in which they could exclusively order. If the reported opening of orders this week takes place, however, this clearly isn’t true since I’ve not been contacted so far on account of my reservation. I am beginning to wonder what Renault thought was the point of opening Zoe reservations – just a marketing exercise to gauge interest?

Renault Triumphs at the Future Car Challenge



Zoe in Future Car Challenge
Zoe in Future Car Challenge

Renault collected four awards at the annual Brighton to London RAC Future Car Challenge on Saturday 3rd November winning categories for the ZOE supermini and Kangoo Van Z.E. as well as scooping the overall prize.

Renault Clio in Future Car Challenge
Renault Clio in Future Car Challenge

The event, sponsored by RAC Motoring Services was first introduced in 2010 to showcase low energy use vehicles. It features competitors driving electric, hybrid, hydrogen and low-emission conventional petrol and diesel cars on a 63-mile route from Brighton to London, using the least amount of energy as possible. The event is a real-world test of current and future vehicle technology.

Entrants in Future Car Challenge
Entrants in Future Car Challenge

ZOE, Renault’s new 100% electric supermini won the categories of Most Energy Efficient Small Car and the Best Pure Electric Vehicle.  Kangoo Van Z.E. won the Most Energy Efficient Light Commercial Vehicle category.  Against a wide range of competition including fully electric, hybrid and hydrogen vehicles, ZOE won the overall RAC Future Car Challenge for a production car.

Andy Heiron, UK Head of Electric Vehicles Programme, said,

“I’m delighted to have won four out of 19 categories.  We’re the only manufacturer offering such a wide range of fully electric vehicles to cover the main market sectors and appeal to both retail and business buyers. Our current three-model range has already been attracting a lot of interest, especially the unique Twizy. The proof of the pudding though is trying them out. We’re confident that after experiencing the refined and responsive driving experience of a purely electric vehicle, combined with the financial and environmental benefits of switching to an electric vehicle, potential buyers will be smitten.”

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