Apologies that it’s been a while since I wrote an update on life with our Renault Zoe, bought on PCP and undergoing the rigours of everyday family life in south-west London.
Since delivery 10 weeks ago it has covered 1000 miles, mostly in the hands of my wife, who traded her eight-year-old Ford C-Max for life on the electric superhighway. Well, as the low mileage suggests, perhaps more of the electric urban highway.
The experience so far has been overwhelmingly positive, the Zoe slotting in to our lives seamlessly. There have been no worries about range, or charging times, or space, or ride quality (all supposed shortcomings), just general joy at the instant torque, silent running and modern high-tech kit list that makes the £150 a month lease with battery a steal.
How so, sceptics may ask? The answer lies in the fact that it suits our needs so perfectly. If we lived in the country, commuted far and wide, didn’t have a drive or a second car, it just wouldn’t work. But none of those things are an issue, so on we motor – even when the sub-zero temperatures reduce full charge range to an eyebrow raising 55 miles.
Yes, I choked at first, but the point is a 25-mile run is as far as we’ll typically do. We just have to charge it more than we expected – but even that is painless, and at roughly two hours to 80% full not remotely inconvenient.
You guessed it, I’m a convert. As I said at the beginning of this series, electric cars aren’t for everyone, but if they suit you they really suit you.
The ZOE Swiss Edition is a limited-edition addition to the catalogue of Europe’s best-selling electric passenger car. It targets customers who wish to benefit from the model’s environmental credentials and rewarding mobility while enjoying an exclusive touch of elegance, including particularly plush leather upholstery and a premium Bose® audio experience.
The limited-edition Renault ZOE Swiss Edition will be released this summer in Switzerland and foreshadows the new high-end version of the model that will be available for sale in all the car’s markets from the last quarter of 2016.
A new body colour and new wheels for extra chic
In addition to the original’s sleek, fluid lines which are perfectly befitting of a modern electric city car, the ZOE Swiss Edition’s exterior styling has been enhanced by discreet, sophisticated embellishments.
In addition to new 16-inch black Shadow diamond-cut wheels, practically all the existing body colours are available for the ZOE Swiss Edition which can also be specified with the brand new Yttrium Grey finish.
Outstanding leather upholstery, pleasing both to the eye and to the touch
The ZOE Swiss Edition’s upholstery uses only rigorously-selected hides of the finest quality. The seats are exceptionally plush, due notably to longer fulling of the leather compared with more conventional processes. The soft, natural feel of the skins is preserved thanks to the extremely high standard of their finish, while the use of varnish and other chemical agents has been halved in comparison with most leather upholsteries.
The seats’ striking appearance stems equally from the leather’s Pailleté Brown finish and refined stitch work, including gussets on the cushions and seat backs, top-stitching, and hot stamped badging on the front head rests.
A cabin that oozes elegance and comfort
The rest of the ZOE Swiss Edition’s interior matches the standard set by its elegant upholstery.
The dashboard features a soft-to-the-touch Metallic Fumé Grey finish and the same colour has been carried over to the air vent surrounds, R-Link console and door panels. The hand brake lever is trimmed in leather and the floor is protected by four thick braided velour carpet mats.
The ZOE Swiss Edition takes care of occupant wellbeing too, including heated front seats with a choice of three temperature settings. The driver’s seat is also equipped with manual lumber adjustment to adapt the seat back to the driver’s build. Last but not least, the ZOE Swiss Edition comes with electrically folding door mirrors for additional peace of mind.
A silent ride to enjoy the purity of the premium Bose® audio system
ZOE’s silent ride due to the absence of engine noise and vibrations inherent in electric vehicles means occupants can benefit fully from the Swiss Edition version’s Bose®-quality sound. The car’s premium audio system comprises six high-performance loudspeakers and a compact woofer which deliver every detail of original recordings.
The two dashboard-mounted 2.5cm tweeters provide crisp, balanced sound which is backed up by the full, rich volume of the two neodymium bass speakers incorporated in the front doors and the two wide-range speakers fitted in the rear doors. The boot-mounted compact woofer contributes a deep, realistic low-frequency edge thanks to Bose® waveguide technology which reproduces the lowest notes with extreme clarity despite the woofer housing’s compact size.
Renault will provide used EV batteries to Connected Energy Ltd for second-life application in its E-STOR product
Renault is the electric vehicle market leader in Europe
E-STOR is a revolutionary energy storage system that can reduce costs and enable more flexible and efficient use of energy – including high capacity fast charging
E-STOR will be available in the UK from July 2016
Renault and Connected Energy are partnering to develop sustainable and efficient ways of using electric vehicle batteries at the end of their useable in-vehicle life in order to supply innovative and more affordable vehicle charging solutions.
At the end of their useful in-vehicle life, Renault EV batteries still have considerable remaining capacity, which means that they can continue to give great service in other applications before they are ultimately recycled. And with rapidly increasing EV sales – 97,687 EVs were sold in Europe in 2015, up 48% on 2014 – so is the requirement in energy to charge them.
E-STOR: a flexible and environmentally friendly energy management system
Through its award-winning E-STOR technology, Connected Energy is offering a highly innovative solution to this conundrum through use of ‘second life’ EV batteries.
This can be used, for example, to store energy generated from on-site renewable generation resources such as solar panels and wind turbines, and then release it as it’s needed at a later time. The system also allows the batteries to be charged via low-cost off-peak electricity tariffs, enabling users to reduce their energy costs.
The batteries used are Renault EV batteries, chosen by Connected Energy because Renault, as EV market leader with 23,000 units sold in Europe in 2015, has expertise in the technology, its lifecycle and impact on the environment.
The first E-STOR product is nominally rated at 50kW/50kWhr which could typically be used to support one rapid charger or a cluster of fast chargers but the system is fully scalable and higher capacity units will follow.
In practical terms, as well as allowing more efficient use of energy, the system can also enable installation of rapid electric vehicle charging in sites where electricity supply would traditionally only allow slower rates. Instead of charging vehicles via a high-capacity supply directly from the grid, E-STOR allows multiple batteries to be charged at a slower rate over a period of time, ready to release their energy and charge a car when an EV driver needs it.
Renault offers two concrete solutions with its electric vehicles and their batteries through E-STOR. First to the grid, by providing energy storage that prevents power grid overload and balances supply and demand. Second to the environment, because batteries not fitted for automobile use, but that still have considerable remaining capacity, can have a longer life and lower carbon footprint before they are actually recycled.
In June 2015, E-STOR was named winner of the innovation category in the prestigious British Renewable Energy Awards 2015, hosted by the Renewable Energy Association.
Matthew Lumsden, Managing Director, Connected Energy, said:
“E-STOR will enable the more cost-effective roll-out of electric vehicles in commercial and industrial settings, thus increasing the overall sustainability of this clean form of transport. With Renault we have secured the supply of second life batteries for future E-STOR installations.”
Eric Feunteun, Electric Vehicle Program Director, Renault, commented:
“The second life application of Renault electric vehicle batteries supports Renault’s commitment to the energy transition in the automotive industry. Through E-STOR, EV owners can charge their car at reduced costs with electricity that is less carbon-dependent. It makes driving an EV a smart and even more sustainable transportation solution. With this energy management technology, EVs and their batteries become an asset for the grid rather than create overload.”
Renault is a leader and pioneer in the emerging electric vehicle market and has sold electric vehicles since 2011, offering a range of 100 per cent electric cars and vans to suit most requirements. The ZOE supermini sits alongside the fun and distinctive Twizy urban run-around which is also available in a commercial vehicle version with a boot instead of a rear passenger seat – Twizy Cargo. Completing the Renault Z.E (Zero Emissions) line-up is the Kangoo Van Z.E. – the perfect compact van for urban deliveries and tradesmen and is available in a range of bodystyles.
In 2015, Renault was the best performing EV brand in Europe, with sales rising 49 per cent to 23,086 units, with a 23.6 per cent European EV market share. It was a similar story in the UK, with ZOE sales up 102 per cent in 2015 to 2,053 vehicles – significantly outpacing the UK electric vehicle market, which was up 48 per cent on 2014.
In 2015, Renault was the best performing brand in EV sales in Europe
Renault’s EV sales rose 49 per cent to 23,086 units in 2015, with a 23.6 per cent market share
ZOE is the best-selling all-electric car in Europe
Kangoo Z.E. is the best-selling all-electric LCV in Europe
Renault is the best performing brand in Europe in electric vehicles sales, with a market share of 23.6 per cent (or 25.2 per cent including Twizy) and 23,086 units registered in 2015 up 49 per cent on 2014. One out of five electric cars sold in Europe was a Renault Z.E. vehicle in 2015.
The European all-electric vehicle market stands at 97,687 units, up 47.8 per cent compared to 2014. In Europe, the EV market represents a 0.61 per cent market share (up 0.16 per cent compared to 2014) of the overall car market.
Renault ZOE is the top-selling all-electric passenger car with its market share increasing by 2.2 percentage points to 19.2 per cent and 18,453 new registrations in 2015. It performed particularly well in France, where it recorded a 48.1 per cent market share (versus 41.2 per cent in 2014) and 10,670 units sold, thanks to the “superbonus” incentive set up by the French government in April 2015. More than half of ZOE sales in France benefitted from the incentive.
Renault Kangoo Z.E. is the best-selling electric LCV in Europe with 4,325 units sold in 2015, accounting for 42.6 per cent of the all-electric LCV market.
Renault has sold the most EVs between 2010 – the year the first EV was launched in Europe – and 2015, with a record of 62,228 units sold. Since its launch, 16,331 units of Renault Twizy were sold.
Renault Z.E. models sold in Europe in 2015:
ZOE, a compact hatchback launched in 2013;
Kangoo Z.E., the electric version of Renault’s LCV launched in 2011;
Twizy, an urban two-seater quadricycle, launched in 2012
In the UK, ZOE sales were up 102 per cent in 2015 to 2,053 vehicles, significantly outpacing the UK electric vehicle market, which was up 48 per cent (including Twizy) on 2014. ZOE is the second best-selling electric car in the UK representing one in five EVs sold.