UK Zoe Videos

A couple of UK Renault dealers recently released videos of the Zoe. At a guess, they were made at the same time as the Zoe/Clio VIP events such as the one I attended (see here and here).

There’s one by Evans Halshaw:

and another by Toomey Southend:

In the Toomey one “Charge Time from just 3 Minutes” should presumably have read “Charge Time from just 30 Minutes”.

Britain and Climate Change

Severe Flooding, Against a Background of Wind Turbines: November 2012, Tyringham, Bucks. (Image: T. Larkum)
Severe Flooding, Against a Background of Wind Turbines: November 2012, Tyringham, Bucks. (Image: T. Larkum)

During November our local area experienced severe flooding, as did much of the UK, of course. I stopped on the way to work one day to take the picture above as it seemed to say something about the situation we are currently experiencing, and the changes we need to go through (i.e. more renewable energy to slow down climate change and hence the increase of flooding).

Today I became curious about the wind farm in the background and did a bit of research. It is the ‘Milton Keynes Wind Farm’ at Petsoe Manor, Emberton. Presumably it is so named because it was one of the first in the area – others have been installed since, with more planned. I wondered if it might be open to the public, so I could visit it, but I understand now that it isn’t.

There’s an interesting time-lapse video showing it being constructed:

Some general still shots:

Petsoe Manor Wind Turbines

Delay on UK Deliveries: Summer 2013 – January 2013 – January 2013

It has been widely reported that deliveries of the Zoe have been delayed, but Renault is saying little officially.

Delivery dates for the UK have always been vague. The best indication should be the website. I have been monitoring it (specifically the ‘Renault Z.E.’ tab), and this is what I’ve seen:

  • ‘Autumn 2012’ (or similar wording) shown early 2012
  • ‘End of 2012’ shown July 2012
  • ‘Early 2013’ shown August 2012
  • ‘Summer 2013’ showing now – August 2012 – August 2012

Human Extinction By Mid-Century?

In this thought-provoking presentation Guy MacPherson, award winning conservation biologist and Professor Emeritus University of Arizona, gives his assessment of the current global situation. His forecast is, to be honest, very depressing!

The talk is in two halves. The first half is the bad news – a detailed run-through of the most recent research papers published on climate change. The following is a summary quote:

“Methane release will accelerate exponentially, release huge quantities of methane into the atmosphere and lead to the demise of all life on earth before the middle of this century (2031 for the Northern Hemisphere)”

As if that wasn’t bad enough, the second half is the ‘good’ news – the global economy will collapse and, if we’re lucky, it will happen fast enough and therefore CO2 emissions will reduce fast enough, that we may avert the worst climate change outcomes:

“Only economic collapse can prevent runaway global climate change and allows for continued persistence of our species on this planet”

It ends with an exhortation to each of us as individuals to change our ways and adopt a sustainable lifestyle.

Although his predictions are dire, from what I’ve learnt studying climate change his views are based on valid data so he appears to me to be on solid ground, at least for the first half of his talk. If anyone can see any flaws, however, please comment (if only to reassure that things aren’t really as bad as he says!).

Enjoy – but you have been warned!

Marketing Zoe Silently

Stephen Norman Presenting the Renault Twizy (Image: Renault)
Stephen Norman Presenting the Renault Twizy (Image: Renault)

Autocar has a recent article where Renault marketing boss Stephen Norman talks about Renault’s disappointing EV sales globablly, and the marketing planned for Zoe:

“We need to communicate the autonomy of the vehicles, and let people know more about what they can do. I think people invent constraints the cars don’t have.”

“Our next task is to get up off our backsides and sell them, not talk about what we’re going to be doing in 2030. There are so many messages to transmit on the electric car; we need to make the push.”

Renault will launch the Renault Zoe with a campaign centred on the silence of the drivetrain, a theme it will use for all of its electric cars. While Norman admitted people won’t buy them solely because they’re silent, it’s a quality that suggests engineering excellence and efficiency.

“People need to drive it, too. It’s ever so quick, and the brakes are very powerful.”

The Fast and the Furious: Paris Drift

The Fast and the Furious: Paris Drift
The Fast and the Furious: Paris Drift (Image:

As we reported a while back, the French Industry Minister Arnaud Montebourg took a test drive in a Zoe and admitted to somewhat exceeding the speed limit, despite the presence of numerous journalists. This has inspired the French satire website LoboFakes to create a poster to mark the occasion in the style of the street racing film ‘The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift‘ but this time starring Montebourg and the Zoe (in suitable racing paintwork).

So who will be the first owner to really pimp their Zoe, I wonder?!

Scale Model Zoe

Zoe Scale Model (Image: T. Larkum)
Zoe Scale Model (Image: T. Larkum)

A surprise Christmas present arrived this week, slightly late for Christmas – a scale model of the production version of the Zoe, courtesy of Renault. It came out of the blue, without warning. It is quite different from the Zoe Concept available to buy from the ZE shop.

It came with a message:

“On behalf of the whole Renault ZOE team, I would like to wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.” Stephen Norman, Director Global Marketing and Communications

It’s a nicely made model, in a clear plastic presentation case. It arrived well packaged.

Zoe Christmas Present (Image: T. Larkum)
Zoe Christmas Present (Image: T. Larkum)

However, personally, I would rather have had news of when my ordered Zoe might arrive. Keeping the customer updated is to me the most important job of marketing and communications.

Happy Christmas and Joyeux Noël!

Happy Christmas, Joyeux Noel, Fröhliche Weihnachten and Feliz Navidad!
Happy Christmas, Joyeux Noël (Joyeux Zoel!), Fröhliche Weihnachten and Feliz Navidad!

A Happy Christmas, Joyeux Noël (Joyeux Zoel!), Fröhliche Weihnachten and Feliz Navidad to all prospective Zoe owners!

And Seasons Greetings especially to all visitors to this site, for contributing and making it a success. We recently passed the milestone of 20,000 visitors – a major achievement for a new site. We will continue to improve and expand the site, and to cover everything Zoe.

If you’re new here, please call in to the Forum and say hello.

The Joy of Solar 1: Installation

Step 2: Scaffolding (Image: T. Larkum)
Step 2: Scaffolding (Image: T. Larkum)

Whether or not you are considering buying an electric car, if you have the opportunity I would unequivocally recommend having solar panels installed. We had solar fitted in 2010, even before it had dawned on me how bad the situation had got with global warming. I did it then for the money, and for a measure of energy independence. However, it is a decision I have never regretted; in fact it’s one of the best things I’ve ever done.

The Roof Before Cleaning and Installation (Image: T. Larkum)
The Roof Before Cleaning and Installation (Image: T. Larkum)

The timing was lucky – the UK government was in the process of introducing a Feed-In-Tariff (FIT) for solar and other ‘microgeneration’ technologies. Some solar suppliers were undertaking advertising and marketing campaigns, and I began to get interested when I saw a display outside our local DIY warehouse. I contacted this company and after various dealings with them (including a fairly ‘hard sell’ home visit) I decided to have nothing further to do with them. However, my interest in solar had begun and I began to research it, and applied for quotes from various companies, followed by home visits from a short list of suppliers. From those I chose one, and when the installation went ahead they did a very good job.

Step 1 is a site survey. This looks at the roof type, condition, location and direction. It includes measuring its length, width, the height of the ridge, and the height of the gutter edge, so as to determine it solar capacity – i.e. how much area it covers and at what angle to the sun.

Step 2 is the scaffolding. This is arranged by the solar supplier but put up some days in advance by a dedicated scaffolding company. Step 2a is optional – once the scaffolding was in place I used it to check over and then clean the roof. I did the cleaning with a garden hose on a high pressure spray, taking care not to get the water under the tiles and into the loft. I was able fairly quickly to remove 20+ years of accumulated moss and dirt – and, of course, with the panels in place, I may never need to repeat the process.

Step 3: Installation (Image: T. Larkum)
Step 3: Installation (Image: T. Larkum)

Step 3 is the ‘big day’ when the supplier turns up with the panels and installs them. They go onto a metal frame. Tiles are lifted at intervals so that metal brackets can be fitted to the roof trestles. These brackets are then joined together to support the panels. The only glitch for us was that there was an open soil stack protruding through the roof that would get in the way of the panels being arranged perfectly. This was replaced by a valved one inside the loft space at no extra charge.

The Finished System (Image: T. Larkum)
The Finished System (Image: T. Larkum)

Step 4 is the wiring up of the system. The inverter was not available as soon as it was needed so this step ran into a second day for us.

Once the system is up and running, and checked over, that’s it. To get the government Feed-In-Tariff you read the generation meter every quarter and notify your electricity supplier of the reading. Shortly afterwards you get the money into your bank account. Meanwhile you are enjoying free energy, and are helping to save the planet – can’t be bad!

Next see The Joy of Solar 2: Internals

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