ZOE Test Drive – 1

ZOE Zen demonstrator (Image: T. Larkum)
ZOE Zen demonstrator (Image: T. Larkum)

Yesterday, more than a year after pre-ordering my ZOE, I finally had the opportunity to take a test drive in a ZOE. The vehicle had been the showroom model but a new ZOE was on its way, with a higher specification (I imagine it will have the 17” alloy wheels and so on), so this vehicle – a standard Zen – was now the demonstrator. It had less than 300 miles on the clock.

I went with two colleagues from work to our local Renault dealer, Marshall in Milton Keynes. They had a drive each first and were both very positive about the experience. It was interesting that as passengers they commented on how much it was just like a conventional car and I would have to agree – as a passenger it was very difficult to tell it was electric.

A comment was made about how much of the noise in a car while driving is road noise – and this was an interesting point that I would have to agree with. Even though you remove engine noise, as you largely do in the ZOE, the drive is not silent because of road noise – and I think that’s particularly true in Britain at the moment due to the poor state of road surfaces. It’s great not to hear an engine, but it would not be true to say the drive is silent; it is quiet but with road noise evident at most speeds, and presumably there would also be wind noise at high speeds (though we didn’t have the opportunity to try that).

As a passenger in the back I would say that it was comfortable enough, but certainly not roomy. My colleague, at a little under six foot tall, appeared to be sitting slightly sideways to provide enough space for his knees behind the front seat passenger. Similarly, although there was a proper three-point seat belt for the middle seat, it would appear to only really be useable when there are three children sitting in the back – adults would be quite tightly packed.

Marshall Renault, Bletchley, MK with charge posts (Image: T. Larkum)
Marshall Renault, Bletchley, MK with charge posts (Image: T. Larkum)

After their drives finished my colleagues returned to work and I stayed for a longer drive. I asked to see how the ZOE was charged. It was very straightforward: a button inside releases the cover over the charging point, inside this there is a dust cover that you open by hand. The cable connector is inserted – at this point it appeared to become locked into position. Once the charge station is activated (in this case by an electronic card) the charging starts. On completion it is necessary to release the charging connector using a button inside the car – this is presumably to prevent other people (either passers-by or other EV drivers) from disconnecting you while you’re charging at a charge point in a public area.

[Part 2 is here]

Renault signs with Spark Racing Technology and Formula E Holding as Technical Partner in the FIA Formula E Championship

Renault signs with Spark Racing Technology and Formula E Holding as Technical Partner in the FIA Formula E Championship (Image: Renault)
Renault signs with Spark Racing Technology and Formula E Holding as Technical Partner in the FIA Formula E Championship (Image: Renault)

Renault SAS, leader of Electric Vehicle and expert in motorsport, has signed on as official Technical Partner of Spark Racing Technology to supply the Formula E cars to be entered in the FIA Formula E Championship.

The agreement was signed by Patrice Ratti, Renault Sport Technologies Managing Director and as a Renault SAS representative, Alejandro Agag, CEO of Formula E Holdings and Frédéric Vasseur, President of Spark Racing Technologies.

Renault has demonstrated a unique commitment to zero-emission mobility, with a range of 4 cars available for sale. Renault in Europe, and the Renault-Nissan Alliance worldwide, have gained a position of EV sales leader. Formula E is an exciting opportunity to demonstrate the excellence and the reliability of our EV solutions” said Philippe Klein, Executive Vice President, Corporate Planning, Product Planning & Programs  of Renault Group.

We believe that motorsport is an efficient manner to promote the efficiency of new technologies, and we’re eager to use that single-seater in FIA Formula E championship to show our technology is the best.”

Renault’s ongoing involvement in motor racing’s series provides it with a unique technological laboratory, giving it an edge not only in the world of production vehicles but also on the race track. Renault’s technological excellence extends not only in F1 but also in all Z.E. range.

“Renault and Formula E both share the same commitment to innovative technology and sustainable motoring and we’re delighted to welcome them to the Championship as a Founding Partner,” said Alejandro Agag, CEO of Championship promoter Formula E Holdings.
Not only is Renault one of the world’s leading car manufacturers, with a very successful motorsport pedigree, it is also a pioneer for electric vehicles being the first full-range car manufacturer to market zero-emission vehicles. To have a manufacturer of this calibre onboard is a great testament to the growing appeal of the FIA Formula E Championship.”

Spark Racing Technology sided toward this technological expertise to optimize the electric and electronic layout.  The 42 Formula E single-seaters built for the beginning of the first season will be named “Spark-Renault”.

Spark Racing Technology is extremely proud to have a new major quality player in motorsport, Renault” said Frédéric Vasseur, CEO of Spark Racing Technology.

Their record and involvement in high level motorsport speaks for the brand. In addition, Renault has always been at the forefront of innovation and having their expertise and know-how is invaluable at such a key moment in the creation of the FIA Formula E World Championship. This partnership with Renault is a new corner stone in a building harmoniously taking shape at all levels.”

Renault Sport Technologies  is the only car manufacturer to design, develop and market a comprehensive range of sporting cars and vehicles made for motorsport within the same entity.

It was an evidence for Renault to ask to his subsidiary to work on this project and to put on evidence all the engineers’ expertise on motorsport vehicles.

Renault’s expertise in electric powertrain design and integration acquired both in production E.V. and in Formula 1 makes Renault Sport a natural partner for Spark in this exciting Formula E project” said Patrice Ratti, Managing Director of Renault Sport Technologies.
Engineers from Renault Sport F1 and Renault Sport Technologies will collaborate with Spark Racing Technology team to optimize the electric and electronic layout and performance of the powertrain. Our experience will be particularly valuable to ensure the safety and reliability of the car

About Renault SAS
Renault has since 1995 been committed to a strong environmental policy that takes account of the environmental impact of all its activities at each phase in the vehicle life cycle. From 2007, the Renault eco² signature represented Renault’s commitment in this area in the eyes of customers and the general public. Through a number of innovations, including the electric vehicle and new internal-combustion technology, the emissions of Renault range vehicles in Europe should fall from 137g at the end of 2010 to less than 120g in 2013, and less than 100g / km in 2016 with electric vehicles.

About FIA Formula E Championship
Formula E is a new FIA (Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile) championship featuring racing cars powered exclusively by electric energy. It represents a vision for the future of the motor industry over the coming decades. The races will be held in the heart of the world’s leading cities, around their main landmarks. Demonstrations of the first cars will commence in 2013, followed by the first official electric car race in 2014. The plan is for a grid of 10 teams and 20 drivers in 2014. The FIA has expressed its delight with the sport’s shared values of clean energy and sustainability. Formula E hopes to promote general awareness around sustainability. It also intends to serve as a framework for R&D around the electric vehicle and accelerate general interest in these cars for personal use.

The Renault Z.E. center in Boulogne-Billancourt celebrates its first birthday

The Renault Z.E. center in Boulogne-Billancourt celebrates its first birthday (Image: Renault)
The Renault Z.E. center in Boulogne-Billancourt celebrates its first birthday (Image: Renault)
  • The Renault Z.E. Center is a unique venue in Europe. Free and open to all, it is dedicated to helping people find out more about the brand’s electric vehicles.
  • Some 17,000 individual and professional visitors have taken part in the electric revolution since January 2012.
  • A number of high-profile figures have visited the center to find out more about Renault electric vehicles, including Alain Prost, Sebastian Vettel and Yann Arthus-Bertrand.
  • The Renault Z.E. Center helps to boost Renault’s environmental image and improve the sales performance of the Renault Z.E. range, which accounts for over 75% of electric vehicle sales in France.

Since January 2012, the Renault Z.E. Center in Boulogne-Billancourt near Paris has organized over 21,000 electric vehicle test drives for professional, institutional and individual customers and brand guests. More than 50,000 zero-emission kilometers have been driven over the last 18 months.

Located on Île Seguin in Boulogne-Billancourt, the Renault Z.E. Center is the first electric vehicle test center in Europe. Visitors to this renowned venue get to find out more about the four vehicles in the current Renault Z.E. range – ZOE, Twizy, Kangoo Z.E. and Fluence Z.E. Accompanied by electric-vehicle experts, they can test drive the cars on a 2 km track and learn more about the corresponding services and charging infrastructure. A team dedicated 100% to zero-emission mobility is on hand to answer all the visitors’ questions. The Center is free and open to all.

Visitors to the Center have included Yann Arthus-Bertrand, Alain Prost and Sebastian Vettel. A number of institutional guests have also come to live the electric experience, including the French Finance Ministry, the officials in charge of the French government’s car fleet, and numerous representatives from local government.

Commenting, Renault Z.E. Center director Benoît Treilhou, said:

The aim with the Renault Z.E. range was to create an original and welcoming venue combining an educational approach with on-track test drives. In the ideal setting of Île Seguin, we bring our visitors a unique experience, with Z.E. advisors on hand at each step to answer questions and give detailed explanations on all the new facets of electric vehicle use. Visitors leave the Center feeling convinced and enthusiastic.”

A Step Closer…

My ZOE Order Details (Image: T. Larkum)
My ZOE Order Details (Image: T. Larkum)

I rang my local Renault dealer today, Marshall Motor Group in Bletchley, to arrange a ZOE test drive as a demonstrator is due in there later this week.

To my surprise I learned that my order for the ZOE had progressed through the Renault system to the point where I had been allocated a chassis number – a major milestone as far as I am concerned. I drove down and picked up a copy of the order paperwork.

Some comments on it, from top to bottom:

  • It starts with “The vehicle is expected to be delayed ie CPosAAD is > CDD” which is rather worrying.
  • “Owning account no. 037000 MARSHA” presumably is a code for Marshalls.
  • “Flag buy/lease” – it says Lease but this should be Buy, though I haven’t yet discussed finance details, etc.
  • “Date de lancement” (launch date) – I don’t understand the significance of this.
  • “Date d’affectation” (assignment date) – I guess this is when the order finally went onto the computer system.
  • “The vehicle is in factory (not yet built) with flexibility (M+2)” – apparently M+2 indicates that most options can be changed, this will become restricted when it moves to M+1, at that point it may be possible to change the choice of wheels, for example, but not the bodywork colour.
  • “Location UFLINS” – this presumably refers to the Flins factory.
  • “Fcast AAD” / “Prom AAD” – don’t know.
  • “Provisional Factory Exit Date 03/07/2013” – when it’s due to be completed, later than I had hoped.
  • “CCat DDD 29/07/2013” – Dealer Delivery Date (?), much later than I had hoped.

Remember Today: Earth’s CO2 Level Passes 400 ppm

Carbon dioxide levels can be seen climbing steadily in Scripps data from the last 55 years (Image: Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UC San Diego via National Geographic)
Carbon dioxide levels can be seen climbing steadily in Scripps data from the last 55 years (Image: Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UC San Diego via National Geographic)

National Geographic has reported that an instrument near the summit of Mauna Loa in Hawaii has recorded a long-awaited climate milestone: the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere there has exceeded 400 parts per million (ppm) for the first time in 55 years of measurement — and probably more than 3 million years of Earth history.

The last time the concentration of Earth’s main greenhouse gas reached this mark, horses and camels lived in the high Arctic. Seas were at least 30 feet higher — at a level that today would inundate major cities around the world.

The planet was about 2 to 3 degrees Celsius (3.6 to 5.4 degrees Fahrenheit) warmer. But the Earth then was in the final stage of a prolonged greenhouse epoch, and CO2 concentrations were on their way down. This time, 400 ppm is a milepost on a far more rapid uphill climb toward an uncertain climate future. Read More

In the UK this milestone appears to have been largely ignored, except by the Guardian:

Climate milestone is a moment of symbolic significance on road of idiocy

Global carbon dioxide in atmosphere passes milestone level

To give some context here are C02 levels over the last 10,000 years graphed a short time back – you can see for yourself where the new reading goes:

CO2 levels over the last 10,000 years (Image: SkepticalScience.com)
CO2 levels over the last 10,000 years (Image: SkepticalScience.com)

ZOE, Captur, New Clio and Scenic X-mod introduce the new Renault range in France

Zoe and Clio (Image: Renault)
Zoe and Clio (Image: Renault)

According to a report at Automotive World, Renault is completely reviewing its French vehicle range to enhance legibility and customer appeal. This new marketing policy for France, which will be deployed across the range between now and September 2013, will simplify the range and make it more attractive. Following ZOE in March, Captur, New Clio and Scénic Xmod gain the new trim names Life, Zen and Intens from April. These names, along with the associated product content, will be gradually extended to the entire Renault range in France.

The Renault range has become complex, with up to eight levels of trim for a single model. As a result, Market Area, France, has decided to review the entire range in order to make it simpler and more attractive.

“The objective is to invent a form of ‘post-scrappage bonus’ marketing that enhances both the perceived value of the product and its appeal for customers. Against a backdrop of economic gloom, we aim to win back market share through new flagship products such as New Clio, ZOE and Captur, as well as through an appropriate marketing policy.”

Nicolas Monnot, Marketing Director, France

Three levels of trim for a simplified offering

The trim names Life, Zen and Intens, introduced with ZOE, will gradually replace the existing names (Authentique, Expression, Dynamique, etc.) in the current range. The Life trim groups the essential features in an attractive package. The Zen trim offers the best comprise on everything customers expect from a mid-range version. While the Intens finish delivers maximum pleasure.

The simplification of the range will be accompanied by a review of the policy on optional packs (looks, comfort, technology, etc.). The objective is to make them more meaningful and more legible for both customers and sales people.

First Anniversary Of Reservation

First Anniversary of Reservation (Image: DMG.blogspot.com)
First Anniversary of Reservation (Image: DMG.blogspot.com)

Yes, today is the first anniversary of reservation – it is exactly one year ago today that I did the online registration for a Renault ZOE, which gave me registration number #172. And yet, here I am a year later and a year older, and still no sign of it!

If I had known then that I would have to wait so long I wonder if I would have gone ahead – certainly I might have been tempted to buy a Nissan LEAF, or perhaps wait for a BMW i3 since its release is now not so far away. Of course, there is some light at the end of the tunnel.

ZOE serving employees of Lyon City Hall

One of 10 Lyon ZOEs (Image: Renault)
One of 10 Lyon ZOEs (Image: Renault)

In 2010, the city of Lyon adopted an equitable and sustainable approach to urban management through its territorial climate and energy plan (PCET). Further reflecting its environmental aims, the city acquired a pool of ten Renault ZOE vehicles in March 2013. These vehicles are made available to employees working at the site located at 198 avenue Jean Jaurès for their occasional travel requirements.

In this way, the city is encouraging its employees to adopt a “smart” driving approach. Employees can charge their ZOE on any one of the ten wall-box type charging stations installed in the site car park.

News and comment on the Renault ZOE electric car – quiet, lively, and non-polluting for £300 per month including fuel.