After a few difficult years, Renault is finally moving upwards with electric car sales. Year 2014, with just over 18,000 EVs (almost 15,700 cars) sold, is still 3% down compared to 2013 (or 0% if we exclude Twizy), although the last couple of months of 2014 were really strong.
December ended with new record of over 3,300 sales (over 3,100 without Twizy) and it’s the very first time when Renault exceeded the mark of 3,000.
Growth year over year in November almost hit 50%, while in December it reached 57% for cars.
All the good numbers comes from one car – the ZOE, because the three other models have seen sales going down. Fluence Z.E. almost doesn’t count (out of production), Kangoo Z.E. is struggling to sell at its pace from 2012 & 2013 (28% down year over year), while Twizy again weakened by 20% to 2,450.
ZOE shines at over 11,000 and this makes it the second best selling all-electric car in Europe, just behind the Nissan LEAF.
More than half (probably ~53%) of Renault ZOE sales occurred in France. Total number of ZOEs on the roads is now over 20,000.
We believe that Renault sold over 40,000 electric cars and additionally over 14,500 Twizys for a total ~ 55,000 EVs globally to date.
It turns out my Renault ZOE is no longer the only one in my local area, around Northampton. An almost identical but newer Dynamique Intens has turned up, and I’ve seen it in Northampton and nearby Wellingborough. It’s even the same Energy Blue colour. I’m embarrassed to say I can always tell which one is mine, it’s the dirtiest one!
While catching a charge recently at the Renault dealership in Bletchley I spotted a ZOE with the rather neat registration number of “EV13 ZOE” (where, of course, EV is ‘Electric Vehicle’).
Meanwhile I saw the first BMW i3 in my home town of Northampton recently. It was just sitting outside the local shopping centre/health centre looking entirely at home. For sure it will be the first of many.
Towards the end of 2009, zero-emission electric cars were little more than concept cars. At that year’s Frankfurt motor show Renault displayed four electric prototypes – the Fluence, Z.E sedan, the Kangoo Z.E van, the Twizy tandem two-seater and the ZOE subcompact… but that’s all they were: ideas. Electric cars were an utopian dream, something for the sci-fi magazines.
What a difference five years makes. Today electric cars are a reality. Manufacturers, led by Alliance partners Renault and Nissan, have a growing number of pure electric vehicles on sale – indeed, the trail-blazing Nissan LEAF is the world’s bestselling EV.
Major cities across the globe all have extensive recharging posts in place, and extended fast charging networks now link countries. Electric bikes and scooters are readily available and Renault is behind a global single-seat motor racing championship purely for electric vehicles – Formula E.
Cities and towns in France – 18 in all, including Paris, Lyon and Bordeaux – have car-sharing programmes, called Autolib, based around electric vehicles. EVs have caught on in London, too, where the electric Nissan e-NV200 has been developed into an iconic black cab and is due to start taking fares next year.
So what’s going to happen between now and 2020? There can be no doubt that charging networks will continue to expand and sales of EVs will rise and rise. And, who knows, electric vehicles might no longer need humans behind the wheels. Autonomous cars might be at the concept stage at the moment… but as we have seen, a great deal can happen in five years.
The headlights in a Renault ZOE are not particularly powerful at the best of times, but recently it became clear that my car was giving out so little light that it must have a blown headlamp. Having often changed the bulbs in other cars I decided to take this job on myself, despite finding that changing the bulb in my wife’s Ford Focus was something of a trial.
I dived into the Owner’s Manual (see Figure 1) to confirm the type required – “Bulb Type: H7, use anti U.V. 55W bulbs so as not to damage the plastic on the headlight” – and picked one up from the local Halfords.
The process of changing the bulb (the left-hand one) was surprisingly easy:
1. Pull off the rubber cover. See Figure 2 – the bulb is located in the housing just below the big white sticker.
2. Reach into the housing and grasp the headlamp assembly – it’s pretty fiddly, particularly if you have large hands – see Figure 3.
3. Twist the headlamp assembly anti-clockwise about 20 degrees. This is the trickiest bit as it’s both hard to hold and see. I jiggled it and eventually it turned enough to come out.
4. Pull out the bulb from its holder, and replace. Again this is a bit tricky as the bulb can be seated very firmly, just pull and jiggle to get it out. See Figure 4.
5. Repeat sequence in reverse, but try not to touch the glass of the new bulb.
That’s it – job done, and it was much easier and quicker than many other cars (including the Ford Focus!).