Over the last few weeks I have been working on a ZOE Configurator, a web page where you can design your own ZOE, taking account of the various colours, wheels and other options that Renault offers. It went live 10 days ago, and it uses a lot of data (including prices and images) from Renault’s French and Italian websites. These sites have official ‘configurators’ which have been up and running for some time. They are very thorough; however, I find them very difficult to use and navigate, hence the idea of a simpler version.
– and note that once you have configured your perfect ZOE you can right click on the picture and save it to your computer (e.g. to use as wallpaper).
I am pleased to report that on visiting the Renault.co.uk site this evening, as I do very often, a new ‘Configure a ZOE’ link has appeared at last. This is a very encouraging sign, as it looks like the UK is catching up with the lead nations (France and Italy) for ZOE launches – the Renault websites for Germany, Spain and The Netherlands, for example, still have older versions of the Renault ZE web pages.
Finally it looks like the UK is getting Renault’s focus, and maybe the promises of ZOE deliveries in late May and early June no longer seem quite so farfetched.
Renault continues to keep very quiet about the UK launch. In addition to some previous information, I today learned a few more titbits from my local dealer:
I should be contacted on Tuesday or Wednesday next week about my order. I should get an allocated vehicle (presumably tied to a chassis number) and a confirmed delivery date.
I should also be contacted about the installation of a wall box.
Vehicles will be available for test drives about 15-20 May.
Delivery for pre-ordered vehicles is still pencilled in for the end of May or early June.
My vehicle is the 27th due to arrive in the UK, with four of those first 27 being orders from my dealer.
As in France, no opportunity charging cable (‘granny cable’) will be available. Instead it will be possible to ring any Renault ZE dealer to book access to their charge points – and they will all be fast charge capable. Dealer charging will be free.
The salesman mentioned that the dealer staff had a chance to try out a set of 5 ZOEs and had been impressed with their smoothness and acceleration. And had also been impressed with the potential range, having started with a predicted range over 100 miles – after driving about 30 miles the range had only dropped by about 20 miles.
It’s all very encouraging – now Renault just need to get them in the hands of real customers! This time next week will be one year since I pre-ordered my ZOE.
It has been reported that Norauto is buying 40 ZOEs to use as courtesy cars. Barnard Cambier, Commercial Director of Renault France, says:
“The electric vehicle is not a gamble, it is a reality. True to its tradition of innovation, Renault is at the head of this new approach to mobility. I am particularly pleased that the Norauto partnership with 40 ZOE means potentially 15,000 people each year will discover the extraordinary qualities of the vehicle, and a new experience of driving pleasure.”
When making an appointment to have a car in the Norauto workshop the customer simply needs to book a Renault ZOE as a courtesy car. It costs no more than €6.50 per half day or €12 for a full day for holders of the Norauto card and insurance.
The list of Norauto centres in which ZOE will be used as a courtesy car is: Aix en Provence, Annecy, Aubagne, Avignon Sud, Belle Epine, Bobigny, Chambéry, Chambourcy, Chambray, Tours, Chenove, Créteil, Dieppe, Dijon, Illzach, Le Mans Nord, L’Isle d’Adam, Lyon, Mandelieu, Marne La Vallée, Mondeville, Montivilliers, Pau Lescar, Perpignan, Plaisir, Portet, Reze, Sorgue, St Egreve, St Jean Ruelle, St Priest, Toulouse, Tourville la Rivière, Vallauris, Vélizy et enfin, Wittenheim.
Fleet decision-makers attending this week’s Fleet World Fleet Show at Silverstone are to get an early opportunity to drive Renault’s first bespoke 100% electric car, the ZOE.
The model is the flagship vehicle of the French brand’s four-strong fully electric vehicle range and is intended to provide a stylish, affordable and incredibly versatile vehicle that’s practical for both fleet and private buyers.
ZOE’s official NEDC range is 130 miles and the model also offers an attractive OTR price from £13,650.
Visitors at the Fleet World Fleet Show on Wednesday 24th April at Silverstone will have an ideal opportunity to put the car to the test on both the iconic Grand Prix and Stowe racing circuits.
In addition, Renault will provide visitors with an early opportunity to drive the New Clio, which was launched at the Paris Motor Show and offers a significantly updated range of petrol and diesel engines to deliver low fuel consumption with enhanced performance.
And with the rest of the Renault range – including the Twizy 100% electric urban compact two-seater – on display or available for test-drives, along with vehicles from a further 20 manufacturers, the Fleet World Fleet Show provides fleets with an unparalleled chance to assess the latest company cars.
In December it was reported that the French Minister of Industrial Recovery, Arnaud Montebourg, was presented with the keys to the first delivered ZOE. This week on the Renault ZE page on Facebook it was announced that the French environmentalist Member of Parliament François-Michel Lambert got the keys of his brand new Renault ZOE.
Clearly the ZOE has become a bit of a (fashion?) icon with French politicians – perhaps that’s a good thing as it should certainly raise its public profile.
Renault is pursuing excellence in its relationship with customers by rethinking the whole customer experience – before, during and after a purchase. The aim is to offer customers a seamless experience from the Internet to the physical retail network. This ambitious global program – named C@RE inside the company – includes all the Sales & Marketing business lines involved in customer experience. Delivering on a new customer promise, C@RE will be rolled out across Renault’s global network between now and end-2016.
The C@RE program is focused on customers and their behavior and expectations in terms of sales and after-sales service. It was developed in response to two main findings:
Customers demand increasingly high standards, often based on their experience in other retail sectors,
The widespread use of digital media in all areas of life is changing behavior and expectations all over the world. A total of 94% of customers browse the Internet before coming in to a dealership.
A seamless, integrated customer experience
To satisfy these new expectations, Renault has set up a smooth, continuous link between digital interfaces and the physical retail network. Called C@RE (for Customer Approved Renault Experience) internally, this integrated program incorporates the three key moments in the purchase experience: conquest, conversion and loyalty. The program offers customers:
Easy-to-access information about the brand and products online, on www.renault.com, on the www.renault.country sites, and on social networks,
A richer, interactive, innovative customer experience at dealerships, where the quality of the relationship with sales assistants and service advisors is a priority,
Loyalty offers tailored to their profiles and vehicles.
C@RE offers customers a seamless experience where there are no boundaries between the virtual and real worlds. Customers can now move from one phase to another without losing information or contact. This saves time and simplifies the relationship between customers and the brand. Customers no longer have to explain what they are looking for to a new person each time.
The C@RE program consists of 40 projects. The most visible projects for customers are the 3D configurator, the My Renault customer personal space portal, the Renault Stores, behavioral training for technicians and sales staff, the Customer Promise, touch tablets, and Pit Stop Servicing.
An organized, clearly laid out showroom
The Renault Stores have a clear, intuitive layout, which showcases the products and services on offer. The layout includes:
A Renault Road that takes customers from the entrance to a welcoming area, where they can get information about the brand and its products, have a cup of coffee, and check their emails over a free WiFi connection.
Themed areas (New, Passion, Renault Z.E. Electric Vehicle, Sports, Family, etc.), which are very visible, so customers can find their way around more easily and wander freely between the vehicles.
An accessories area that showcases the range of accessories and promotes seasonal offers: e.g. snow chains in winter, or bike racks in summer,
A delivery area that makes the handover a special moment, because buying a new car is an important experience for customers.
Anyone who has read Bill McKibben’s rather scary summary of the current climate change situation – Global Warming’s Terrifying New Math – will be interested to learn of developments since. Bill has been busy creating a grass-roots organisation to campaign against fossil fuel use (350.org) and has written a new call to action: The Fossil Fuel Resistance.
He also has a movie coming out telling the story of the fossil fuel divestment movement and related issues called Do The Math – here’s the trailer:
TWIN’Z CONCEPT CAR… A REFRESHING VIEW OF THE CITY CAR, BLENDING TECHNOLOGY AND REFINEMENT
Renault and British designer Ross Lovegrove today took the wraps off Twin’Z. This concept car is the fruit of their close collaboration and brings together two worlds where Design plays an important role: the world of furniture and that of the automobile.
As the ‘Play’ petal of Renault Design’s life-cycle ‘flower’, Twin’Z is the latest concept car in the programme which sets out to illustrate Renault’s new design strategy through parallels with threshold phases of human existence. Twin’Z is a fun, modern, artistic take on the city car which plays on emotions and excites the senses. It draws its inspiration from the heritage of some of the brand’s most emblematic models, such as the Renault 5 and Renault Twingo. The Twin’Z is an all-electric car with rear-wheel drive and a rear-mounted motor.
Renault invited British designer Ross Lovegrove to add some design flourishes and the result is an arresting blend of technology and refinement. Ross Lovegrove was given a free hand to imagine a cabin that is truly occupant-friendly. This project eloquently illustrates the many possible sources of inspiration that can drive Design and represents an original approach to the city car.
I. When automotive Design meets the world of furniture
For once, Renault has chosen not to reveal a new concept car at a motor show. Instead, its choice of location stands out as a symbol of its interest in the Salone Internazionale del Mobile di Milano, the centrepiece of the Design industry’s annual calendar, as well as evidence of the carmaker’s determination to reach out to an even wider audience by targeting those who are sensitive to Design. The aim was to break down the boundaries between the world of an object whose calling is to be in movement – the automobile – and that of furniture.
Twin’Z is an electric supermini. Thanks to its architecture, which features a rear-mounted motor and batteries located beneath the floor, it frees up exceptional cabin space and delivers high quality handling that makes it a delight to drive.
Twin’Z… A time to ‘Play’
Twin’Z is the fifth concept car to result from Renault’s design strategy which is founded on the notion of the human life cycle, and which is represented as a six-petalled flower. This strategy fits perfectly with the brand’s determination to accompany its customers during the key phases of their lives and in their individual aspirations thanks to the diversity of its range.
RENAULT x ROSS LOVEGROVE
After enlisting the services of Ross Lovegrove, Renault gave the celebrated expert in contemporary design a free hand to express his vision of the automobile, a vision which draws its inspiration from the world of nature and which is guided by a quest for a harmonious encounter between the automobile and its environment. Laurens van den Acker is sensitive to this refined, human approach which is inspired by the world of nature and the opportunities unleashed by the latest digital 3D modelling technologies.
Ross Lovegrove’s team was tasked with providing the finishing details to Twin’Z’s bodywork (bumpers, lights, grilles, LED roofscape, wheels) which was based on a design produced by Renault Design. His studio was also responsible for designing the interior, including the choice of colours and materials, in conjunction with Renault.
At Renault, the project was overseen by Laurens van den Acker, Axel Breun (Concept Car Design Director) and Raphaël Linari (Designer).
Renault and Ross Lovegrove expressed their ideas using ultramodern digital design tools in order to carry over elements of formal design language that have their source in nature and biological structures to the automobile.
II. Twin’Z – Technology and refinement
Twin’Z underpins Renault’s creative legitimacy which is founded on an entirely fresh approach, one fruit of which is this fun and modern city car concept. It takes its inspiration as much from the heritage of the first-generation Twingo as it does from that of the Renault 5, two small cars which broke new ground in ways that truly marked their time. Twin’Z takes us into a new dimension thanks to its dematerialised interior which combines simplicity with refined details and technology, backed up by the sophistication of its digital systems.
Twin’Z’s forms and stance are key influences in the overall impression it exudes. Although only 3.62 metres in length, Twin’Z’s proportions, high waistline and the way it sits squarely on its 18” wheels, suggest robustness, reassuring protection and quality.
Its all-electric, rear-wheel drive architecture enabled the wheels to be pushed out to the car’s extreme corners to provide it with a solid grounding and large platform. This also gave the car a unique signature and outstanding cabin space in relation to its compact footprint.
At the same time, Twin’Z’s taut lines convey a sense of strength and safety. The bodywork was enhanced by Lovegrove Studio thanks to an approach that blended refinement and technology.
Blue is the colour…
Twin’Z’s striking blue livery pays tribute to the 20th century French painter Yves Klein. The satin finish gives a pure skin to the body which appears to be coated, almost anodised, rather than painted, suggesting that the pigmentation is inside the body and not applied. The soft clear-coat finish produces a velvet-like feel, while a certain iridescence lifts the car’s ‘electro-natural’ appearance.
Twin’Z’s front and rear doors are hinged at the front and rear respectively and open electrically. The resulting absence of a central pillar allows the entire cabin to be revealed to the eye and frees up space to facilitate ingress. This arrangement, which opens up the car’s interior to the outside world, is not only ergonomic but also enables this compact car to break free from convention. As an object, Twin’Z is both precious and high-tech, and this is apparent in the touch-sensitive buttons employed to open the electric doors.
The wheels and tyres have been designed as a single entity. The wheels themselves feature a glowing green finish and their design is based on intelligent growth structures inspired by nature. The solid central core splits into slender branches which strike out towards the rim. The tyres, which were developed specifically by Michelin, continue this pattern to provide a unity between the two functions. As a consequence, the wheel is perceived as a whole rather than a simple juxtaposition of distinct elements. This design was made possible by parametric modelling and 3D printing in order to achieve an eye-pleasing structural unity.
A fascinating play on light that symbolises energy
Twin’Z’s all-LED lighting allows controlled light patterns to be obtained and emphasises the car’s lighting signature. The headlight assembly has been reduced to its graphic intent using the minimum of lines to communicate a positive, alert expression. Crowned by an eyelid, they provide Twin’Z with an optimistic lift. Meanwhile, the daytime running lights are technological gems which form a structure of strips redolent of an iris. In addition to contributing to the front end’s anthropomorphic feel, they bestow Twin’Z with a near-humanlike gaze.
A sequence of LEDs also extends from the grille to the rear bumper via the roof. A pattern of light originates from the Renault lozenge badge and flows towards the head lights before climbing up over the windscreen pillars, along the roofline and then back down to the rear bumper. This light path creates a magical effect which appears to bring Twin’Z alive.
The glass roof is designed in layers and incorporates an array of LEDs which form animated patterns that expand the occupants’ experience. “Passengers are hooded in a technological envelope that bathes them in a light which responds to the energy and pulse of Twin’Z,” says Ross Lovegrove. “This roofscape heightens the sensation of space and blends seamlessly into the rear window.
The conventional door mirrors have been replaced by an integrated video camera that has been aerodynamically ‘liquified’ within the body. A crystal rear spoiler not only generates extra downforce but also completes the aesthetic flight of the car in a dynamic sense, creating visual lift and a sense of lightness.
The rear clusters have made way for LED lighting incorporated into the glass. This concept permits a host of new ideas. For example, when the driver presses on the brake pedal, the burst of the brake lights climbs gradually towards the roof, for enhanced visibility and safety.
The name of the car is picked out in gold letters on the rear window, while the ‘LOVEGROVE’ signature has been moulded into the bottom of the front doors.
Twin’Z’s interior: from home to home
The eye is drawn irresistibly to Twin’Z’s steering column, inviting you to climb behind the wheel. There is no dashboard, which means that front occupants enjoy exceptional room, as do the rear passengers, thereby ensuring that all the occupants benefit from the same experience.
Use of HMIs (Human Machine Interfaces) has been minimised, too, with the conventional dashboard making way for a single tablet with a touchscreen display that is mounted on a centrally-positioned post. Much like a home automation system, the tablet takes care of everything, from the vehicle’s systems (heater, seat adjustment, lights activation, control of the roof) to the GPS guidance system and in-car connectivity. A smartphone located in the driver’s line of sight display’s the vehicle’s speed, range-related information and the principal warning lights.
Ross Lovegrove’s vision of the automobile: “All in one”
“For me, the car is just a big product. But the magic for the designer is having the potential firstly to concentrate on working within the boundaries of a single ‘project’, then secondly to be able to design the furniture, lighting and electronics. I adopted a coordinated approach to both the inside and outside to ensure that Twin’Z read as one object and benefited from the same artistic mind-set founded on digitising and electrifying the car.”
Top speed: 81 mph
Range: 100 miles
Rear-mounted 50kW (68hp) synchronous electric motor with rotor coil
Maximum torque: 226Nm
Four lithium-ion battery packs spaced evenly beneath the floor
Drive: rear-wheel drive
Transmission: direct drive with reducer gear and forward/reverse invertor
Specific Michelin tyres: 205/40 R18
Ross Lovegrove-designed 18-inch aluminium alloy wheels
Front suspension: MacPherson-type arrangement
Rear suspension: double wishbones
Adjustable Ohlins dampers
Chassis: tubular frame
Carbon fibre bodywork
News and comment on the Renault ZOE electric car – quiet, lively, and non-polluting for £300 per month including fuel.