The What Car? Car of the Year Awards 2016 saw prizes awarded to the Renault Zoe and Volkswagen Passat GTE in the electric car categories.
The Passat Estate GTE scooped the overall Best Electric Car prize, along with winning the Best Buy £20,000-£40,000 category. Meanwhile, Renault’s Zoe Dynamique Nav Rapid Charge took the Best Electric Car for less than £20,000 title for third year running.
Commenting on the decision to give ZOE the award for a third consecutive year, Jim Holder, Editorial Director, What Car? said:
“The Renault Zoe was our favourite electric car for less than £20,000 a year ago, and tweaks to the specification and the added ability to go further have only increased its appeal. The Zoe’s main strength is that it feels like a conventional, stylish, nippy small car that happens to cost pennies to run.
“The electric motor has enough shove for the Zoe to lead the charge away from traffic lights, and the cabin seats four in reasonable comfort. Even the boot is larger than you’ll find in many regular small cars – easily big enough for a week’s shopping.”
We set three Netmums bloggers challenges to see if ultra low emission vehicles worked for them. In this video, we gave Penny, who blogs at Parent Shaped, a Renault ZOE and asked her to find as many local chargepoints as she could in an hour. Watch to see how easy Penny found it to charge on the go. Watch all our bloggers take the #EVChallenge: bit.ly/1ZMS1CC
The recent Volkswagen emissions scandal has highlighted the issue of local air quality. The emissions from diesel cars impact badly on local air quality; petrol cars aren’t as bad, but they still have emissions. However pure electric cars have zero tailpipe emissions, and so are ideal for use in our congested urban areas. The Renault ZOE is also a compact size for city driving – so surely it must be the perfect city car?
The ZOE is a stand-alone model that’s only available as a pure EV. Although it’s a compact five-door supermini, it still has five seats – and a decent boot. The rear seats even fold flat to provide an increased load space. We think it looks good, inside and out; it’s simple, stylish and modern. With many functions controlled by the touchscreen, the dashboard has the minimum of fuss.
In terms of the technical stuff, the ZOE has a 400V, 22 kWh capacity lithium ion battery (which weighs 290kg) and a 65kW (88hp) synchronous electric motor. It also has a ‘Chameleon’ charger, allowing the ZOE to be charged at different power levels using the same socket, enabling drivers to take advantage of a wide range of charging points. Charging time from a 3 kW (single-phase 16 A) wall box is around 9 hours. If three-phase charging is available, then a 32 A 22 kW charge point can provide an 80% battery charge in one hour, or a 43 kW 63 A charge point can give an 80% battery charge in just half an hour.
In the 29th Family Car of the Year Awards run by the Belgian automobile association VAB, journalist and family juries voted Renault ZOE R240 top in the electric vehicles category.
For the 2016 edition of its Family Car of the Year Awards, the Belgian automobile association VAB specified a 30-kilometre increase in the minimum “electric power” range required for vehicles in the “electric” category.
As well as running against other all-electric vehicles, Renault ZOE R240 was also competing with plug-in hybrid vehicles and electric vehicles with range extender.
With both juries (25 motoring journalists and 78 families) giving the car top ranking, ZOE R240 finished with 159 points in all, ahead of the Mercedes B250e (with 154 points) and Kia’s Soul (with 147).
The professional jury of motoring journalists praised ZOE’s “roomy interior, bold design and unbeatable price”, noting that “affordable pricing and long range are making Renault electric vehicles an attractive proposition for more and more people”. The family jury expected “a real breakthrough for ZOE R240, a truly affordable vehicle” and saw it as “an eminently practical choice of second vehicle, with its extensive equipment and large boot”.
The unofficial children’s jury appreciated “the neat bodywork, the smooth ride, the comfortable rear seats, and the pretty lights”.
Renault ZOE R240
Powered by the R240 unit, Renault ZOE boasts a range unparalleled in the all-electric segment: 240 km (NEDC standard), which is 30 km more than with the Q210 power unit. Renault engineers have improved the motor efficiency by optimizing the electronic control system. Higher efficiency means lower electricity consumption with no performance penalty.
The R240 power unit also brings a 10% reduction in ZOE’s charge time under most usage conditions. As well as extending the ZOE range, Renault engineers also upgraded the Caméléon charger to reduce the low-power charge time. The new Caméléon charger is especially efficient on charging stations from 3 to 22 kW, which account for more than 95% of the vehicle charging infrastructures currently in operation.
Soon after I bought our Type 2 ‘granny’ cable I did some testing to see how long it would take to charge the ZOE (when set to 10 Amps, about 2.3kW). Previously I’ve done some detailed monitoring of charge curves, specifically for 7kW home charging and 43kW rapid charging. Given that I knew this method would take much longer than either of those I chose to not monitor the whole charge, instead just one hour to get an idea of its behaviour.
As before, at regular intervals I noted the percentage state of charge and the predicted time to complete; these are shown in Figure 1 and Figure 2 respectively. With such a short test it is difficult to draw any firm conclusions, but it appears to be safe to deduce:
The ZOE dash predicts a charge time of about 10.5 hours from a start charge of 46%, so about 23 hours for a complete charge.
The ZOE is actually charging at about 6% per hour, so it should reach full charge in about 16 hours.
These findings are not inconsistent with each other, and the charge time is probably about 17-18 hours. Firstly, the previous analyses of charging curves show that the predicted charge time decreases over time, so it will likely decrease towards an actual lower charge time. Secondly, the predicted time includes time for battery balancing where the simple linear charge estimation does not, in other words there’s probably an hour or two of balancing ‘charging’ when the charge curve hits 99% – hence the estimation of 17-18 hours.
Of course, it’s obvious that this is a very slow way to charge compared to 3.5 hours on the usual home charge point (or half an hour on a rapid charger). This may be partly due to the charger being a generic, non-ZOE specific one and it may be partly due to the ZOE being an older Q210 model which is well known for inefficient charging at low powers.
So, if any readers are keen to volunteer, it would be interesting to repeat the test on other setups, for example:
A ZOE Dynamique Nav R240 with the Renault 13A cable
A ZOE Dynamique Nav Rapid Q210 (or older Intens) with the Renault 13A cable
If anyone sends me the details I’ll post them.
Meanwhile, despite the slow speed of charging, I have made good use of the cable a number of times to grab a ‘top up’ while spending time visiting family.