Zoe News July 2012 – Crash Testing, Awards, LG Batteries, L’Atelier Renault, Start-Ups, Delay

Crash Testing

Zoe Crash Test (Photo: Renault)
Zoe Crash Test (Photo: Renault)

On 2 July the second instalment of the Zoe Confidential blog gave details of the Zoe crash testing undertaken at Renault’s Lardy Technical Center. Lardy, which opened in 1951, handles testing of all Renault engines and gearboxes. In 2011 the centre set up an electric vehicle unit for testing the motors and batteries used in Renault’s ZE line-up.

Lardy also handles the full range of passive safety tests, including front, side and rear collisions. The centre’s test rigs cover most kinds of real-life accident situation, the aim being to improve vehicle resilience and minimize the risk of bodily injury to occupants. One particular test is highlighted:

“That’s precisely where our visit starts, observing the installation of four dummies (two adult-sized ones at the front and two child-sized ones at the rear) in a superb white ZOE, which is set to be propelled against an obstacle at a speed of 65 km/h. Each crash test demands three days of preparation. Here we see the technicians making the final adjustments. The car’s bristling with sensors. The boot’s packed with electronic gear. And paint is being applied on the dummies so that the impact points on the car interior can be determined. Once everything’s ready, everyone scurries off the test track. The car is ready for its last run, a sacrifice that will be everything but futile. The whirr of the engine ends just seconds later in a mighty crash… The car went from 65 km/h to standstill over a distance of 50 centimetres.”

“During the design phase, close to a hundred ZOEs will have undergone all types of crash test (front, side and rear impact, pedestrian impact, etc.).”

Other tests cover watertightness, fording, road cycle simulation and endurance for the body. There is also a range of tests for the battery alone, including temperature, chemical attack, fire, electrical overload and impact.

Next Green Car Awards

Zoe Wins Two Next Green Car Awards
Zoe Wins Two Next Green Car Awards

On 4 July it was announced that the Zoe had received two awards in the Next Green Car Awards 2012. Next Green Car made awards across eight vehicle categories including the ‘Next Generation’ Award, which includes new technology models close to market launch. An overall winner is also awarded the title of Next Green Car ‘Gold Award’ 2012. The nine winners were selected from shortlists of 26 of the UK’s greenest new cars of 2012/13, all selected for their environmental Green Car Rating (GCR), level of innovation, value, drive experience and design.

Zoe won the award for the Supermini 2012 category, and also the overall Gold Award 2012. Dr Ben Lane, Managing Editor of Next Green Car, stated:

“The 2012 winners reflect two key elements underlying current green car development: downsizing and electrification. Three of the winners are brand new models and follow the design philosophy of ‘small is beautiful’. Over half of the winners also incorporate electric drive-trains, either as pure electric cars, plug-in hybrids or with start-stop.

“Indeed, the Next Green Car Gold Award 2012 goes to the highly innovative Renault ZOE Z.E. which for the first time offers a zero-emission all-electric supermini to the UK car buyer.”

In receiving the Gold Award 2012, Andy Heiron, Head of Electric Vehicle Programme, Renault UK said:

“We’re delighted that ZOE has collected not just one, but two awards from Next Green Car, several months before it even launches in the UK; especially the prestigious Next Green Car Gold Award.

“With an affordable price tag, stylish design and great technology including six world premieres such as its innovative Chameleon charger with fast charge capability and the R-Link internet connected integrated touch-screen tablet, we have very high hopes for the fourth model in our electric vehicle range.”

LG Chem Batteries

Zoe Battery Pack – Undamaged After Crash Test (Photo: Renault)
Zoe Battery Pack – Undamaged After Crash Test (Photo: Renault)

On 6 July Motor Nature reported that the Zoe would not be getting batteries from the planned battery production facility at Flins. Instead, it would be supplied directly by the South Korean company LG Chem.

Later in the month Renault reaffirmed the partnership with LG, and stated that Zoe (and also Twizy) batteries would be made by LG. Also, that it remained keen to build a dedicated battery factory in France with LG, but that its location was under review.

Zoe Show at L’Atelier Renault

Zoe Show at L’Atelier Renault (Photo: Renault)
Zoe Show at L’Atelier Renault (Photo: Renault)

A ‘ZOE RE-VOLUTION’ show opened at L’Atelier Renault in Paris on 14 July, running until 21 October, ‘dedicated to bringing visitors an original electric-technology experience with a show dedicated 100% to ZOE, the latest arrival in Renault’s range of full-electric vehicles’. It was described by Renault as follows:

“The new all-ZOE show presents Renault’s 100% electric city car in an atmosphere inspired by purity and passion. Visitors get to find out all about electric technology.

“L’Atelier Renault is displaying a life-sized ZOE split down the middle that shows how easy the car is to charge, which plugs into all types of charging stations. And for even more in-depth knowledge of ZOE and electric cars, received ideas about electric mobility are dispelled via wall-mounted screens in a continuous loop.

Cutaway Zoe at L’Atelier Renault (Photo: Renault)
Cutaway Zoe at L’Atelier Renault (Photo: Renault)

“A ‘Take-Care’ space has been set up to give visitors an idea of the sensory experience on-board ZOE, reproducing lighting, odours and even the wind blowing through their hair, courtesy of a wall covered floor to ceiling with the latest Dyson fans!

“In addition, visitors can be the first to experience the 100% electric experience thanks to a special area where they can reserve their ZOE. Twizy is also still on show at L’Atelier Renault, in a lounge space echoing the colors and electronic ambience of Twizy ambassadors Cathy and David Guetta.”

R-Link Start-Ups

Zoe R-Link Start-Ups (Photo: Renault)
Zoe R-Link Start-Ups (Photo: Renault)

Renault announced on 20 July that, along with Paris Région Lab, it had picked five start-up companies to develop R-Link projects in a Connected Mobility and Services ‘incubator’ set up by the two partners. This followed a call for bids at the start of the year to select innovative start-ups working in connected services.

“Looking to open up to new technological innovations in connected mobility, Renault has joined forces with Paris Région Lab to select partner start-ups and develop working relationships as part of an approach based on dialogue, innovation and openness. The two partners have chosen five young companies, Apila, SoCloz, MobiquiThings, I-Dispo and Telepark, which have set up shop in a dedicated space at the Paris Innovation Masséna ‘incubator’ in the 13th arrondissement in Paris. The partnership’s initial achievement is a set of new connected mobility services available on R-Link (to feature notably on New Clio and ZOE) based on the development of special apps.”

The five companies/applications are:

  • Apila – a multi-platform, community-based mobile app used to exchange street parking spaces in real time.
  • MobiquiThings – a mobile operator that works with manufacturers in all sectors (automotive and transport, logistics, energy, water, health, safety, etc.) by operating fleets of communicating machines. The company supplies its own, branded SIM 2G (GSM) and 3G cards and the corresponding subscriptions, contracts and connections.
  • SoCloz – a ‘pre-shopping assistant’ that helps web users find products and the real-life stores that sell them. Users get dedicated store information (stock, prices and special deals, plus opening hours, distances and so on) updated several times per day.
  • I-Dispo – an original virtual concierge that provides assistance in doing simple tasks such as organizing an appointment with a local professional, comparing product and service prices and getting estimates from service providers.
  • Telepark – an electronic automation and parking management solution for town councils and motorists. More specifically, it helps motorists pay for parking instantly from their mobile device and brings them a range of complementary services such as reminders on parking time limits, remote reminders/deactivation, and consumption records.

Zoe Launch Delay

Zoe R-Link (Photo: Renault)
Zoe R-Link (Photo: Renault)

On 25 July it was reported by the Wall Street Journal that Renault was postponing the commercial launch of Zoe:

“A Renault spokeswoman said the decision to push back the launch of the ZOE to 2013 from the last quarter of this year was taken because of software bugs in the car’s R-Link on-board multimedia system. She couldn’t say when the commercial launch is now expected to take place. ‘We need more time to carry out tests,’ she said.”

However, later that day, another report from WSJ said that Renault still planned to launch Zoe by the end of the year, contradicting the earlier statement:

“A spokeswoman for the French auto maker blamed ‘confusion’ over the timing of the launch when she told Dow Jones Newswires earlier Wednesday that the commercial launch of the car had been pushed back…”

Renault issued its own rebuttal the same day:

“Clarification on the launch of ZOE

“In response to the rumours surrounding the launch of ZOE, Renault has confirmed that the vehicle will be launched at the end of 2012 and that the first orders will be taken on the closing of the Paris Motor Show.”

Zoe News June 2012 – Distance Record, Leipzig, Confidential Blog, Photoshoot, Reader Review, Goodwood

World EV Distance Record

Zoe in World Distance Record Attempt (Photo: Renault)
Zoe in World Distance Record Attempt (Photo: Renault)

On 1 June the Zoe set a new world record for the longest distance travelled in 24 hours by a production electric car. Zoe completed 363 laps of the Aubevoye speed ring in Normandy, a distance of 1,618 km, beating the former record of 1,280 km by 25%.

Two Renault Zoe vehicles set out on the speed ring at the Aubevoye technical centre (CTA) in Normandy. Fifteen drivers from Aubevoye, Cléon, Sandouville, Flins, Douai and Grand Couronne took turns at the wheel, driving and charging as necessary. Twenty-four hours later, the two Zoe vehicles crossed the finishing line, with mileage of 1,618 km and 1,506 km respectively.

“Using its Caméléon charger ZOE was able to be fast-charged at 43 kW, regaining 80% of battery capacity in under thirty minutes. This challenge was also made possible by the best-in-class NEDC range of 210 km (between 100 and 150 km in real conditions, depending on conditions of use). Overall, the finalist ZOE was fast-charged 18 times in 24 hours.”

Presumably the charging was arranged for maximum range efficiency, so that minimum time was spent charging and maximum time driving; therefore the cars would not have been charged to 100% each time (since the last 10-20% takes a disproportionately long time). Assuming the finalist Zoe started fully charged, it used at most 19 full charges to achieve its range of 1,618km, i.e. it went more than 85km on each charge. That is a significant achievement where each charge is less than the maximum possible.

Leipzig Motor Show

Zoe at Leipzig Motor Show (Image: Auto.de)
Zoe at Leipzig Motor Show (Image: Auto.de)

Early in June the Zoe had its German debut, at the Leipzig Auto Mobil International show.

ZOE Confidential Blog

On 8 June Renault published the first instalment of its ‘ZOE Confidential’ blog, an interview with Jean Semeriva, the designer of the Zoe exterior.

Jean Semeriva (right) - Zoe Designer (Photo: Renault)
Jean Semeriva (right) – Zoe Designer (Photo: Renault)

Some interesting quotes from the article:

“The main idea is that ZOE doesn’t have corners, and when the movement suggested by a line comes to an end, it is replaced by another.”

“In absolute terms we didn’t have a lot of constraints stemming from the fact that ZOE is an electric car or city car. We had to raise the seats slightly – and the roof, too – so we could place the battery under the floor. But we worked hand in hand with engineers to minimise this kind of impact. Electric motors also take up a little less place than regular engines, which played a role in the overall design. We really aimed for simplicity.”

Photoshoot

Zoe Zen Interior (Photo: Auto News World)
Zoe Zen Interior (Photo: Auto News World)

On 10 June two different versions of the Zoe featured in a photoshoot on AutoNewsWorld.com. As well as providing artistic views of the exterior, there are good, clear photographs of the interior.

WhatCar Reader Review

Zoe Reader Review (Image: WhatCar)
Zoe Reader Review (Image: WhatCar)

In May WhatCar invited its readers to volunteer to review the Zoe, and on 11 June published a Reader Review video. Overall the reviewers seem very happy with what they saw.

Goodwood Festival of Speed

Zoe and Electric Renault 5 at Goodwood (Photo: Renault)
Zoe and Electric Renault 5 at Goodwood (Photo: Renault)

To complete a busy month, Zoe had its first showing to the British public at the Goodwood Festival of Speed from 29 June to 1 July. For 2012 Renault was back as sponsor and showed off a number of key vehicles, including the 1935 Viva Grand Sport, the Alpine A110, Megane R.S. and Clio R.S. The Zoe was displayed on a stand along with an electric Renault 5 from 1974.

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!

Zoe News March 2012 – TomTom, Chinese Copy, Climate Testing

TomTom SatNav

R-Link Incorporating TomTom Satellite Navigation (Image: Renault)
R-Link Incorporating TomTom Satellite Navigation (Image: Renault)

Timed to coincide with the official 6 March launch of the Zoe, TomTom announced that it would partner with Renault to supply the navigation in the Zoe’s R-Link multimedia system. The press release stated:

R-Link uses IQ routes and maps from TomTom. It also offers LIVE Services, including TomTom HD Traffic – giving drivers the fastest route to their destination based on the latest traffic situation. TomTom HD Traffic provides highly accurate traffic information for the whole road network including exit roads, slip roads and minor roads, which are not covered by competing technologies.

Chinese Copy

Greenwheel J0 – Zoe Copy (Image: Sohu.com)
Greenwheel J0 – Zoe Copy (Image: Sohu.com)

Just days after the Zoe launch came news that it had been cloned in China. The ‘Greenwheel J0’ was originally revealed on the Sohu.com site on 15 March and then re-reported on a number of English language sites, such as Car News China.

Testing in Australia

Zoe Undergoing Testing in Australia
Zoe Undergoing Testing in Australia

At the end of the month it was reported by Australian car sites Car Showroom and Car Advice that the Zoe was being tested for their market. A disguised version was flown in for engineering tests, accompanied by a team of engineers, and was seen on the road in Melbourne and Perth.
Justin Hocevar, the boss of Renault Australia, was quoted as saying:

The aim of testing the new Zoe in Australia is to ensure we are responding to the specific demands of the Australian market – from daily driving to cooling systems for our climate.

Winter Testing

Zoe Winter Testing in Sweden – Front Tracking (Image: Auto Express)
Zoe Winter Testing in Sweden – Front Tracking (Image: Auto Express)

At the same time as one Zoe was experiencing the heat of Australia another was undergoing winter testing in Sweden. The engineers from Renault were accompanied by journalists from Auto Express who provided one of the earliest driving reviews of the production Zoe – on the whole a very positive one:

Because the batteries are mounted under the floor, and in the middle of the car, stability is excellent and body roll minimal. The forgiving suspension deals well with rutted snow – so we can assume the Zoe will be every bit as relaxing to drive around town as the Leaf.

Zoe News February 2012 – 220 Mile Range

A week before the official launch of the production version of the Zoe at the Geneva Motor Show in March 2012 a rumour surfaced that the 2014 model could have a range of about 350km (220 miles). The first site to report this appears to have been Automobile Propre, based on an interview by BFM Business with Renault’s Carlos Tavares (though the link to a BFM article about the interview no longer works).
It always seemed unlikely that this rumour was true. Such a technological leap (of about 75% in battery storage) seems hard to credit over such a short period of time, and even if Renault could achieve it there would be no benefit to Renault to announce a better version of the Zoe coming just before the release of its current version. The follow-up appears to confirm this as Automobile Propre retracted the statement. You can decide for yourself as the (French language) interview is currently available via YouTube (though it may not stay there forever).
 

Global Warming’s Terrifying New Math

Like many electric vehicle enthusiasts I am keen on protecting the environment and follow the discussions in the media on climate change – while not being exactly a treehugger. Today I read a very interesting summary of the current climate change situation. It was published by Rolling Stone magazine, which is respected for its political reporting, so I don’t think it could be considered extreme by either side of the debate. Highly recommended reading:

Global Warming’s Terrifying New Math – RollingStone.com

Global Warming New Math
Global Warming New Math

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