People’s Climate March – Part 2

[Continued from Part 1]

The exit from Temple station was severely congested with crowds of people trying to move slowly out. We were herded to the right and towards the Thames and embankment where apparently the back end of the march crowd would be found.

London Climate March - a quick selfie near Embankment (Image: T. Larkum)
London Climate March – a quick selfie near Embankment (Image: T. Larkum)

There was still some time to go before the march began so I used it to make my way through the crowd to get somewhere nearer the front, though after half an hour I was back again at Temple Station (about where I would have been if I’d turned left on leaving it – I’ll know that next time!). By the time the march started I had got perhaps halfway through the long crowd.

London Climate March - a carnival atmosphere (Image: T. Larkum)
London Climate March – a carnival atmosphere (Image: T. Larkum)

The crowd was very good-natured, there was something of a gentle carnival spirit around. I saw representatives from many different organisations including Greenpeace UK, Avaaz, the Green Party, Friends of the Earth, Socialist Workers, and various trade unions, to name just a few. Plus, of course, thousands of individuals like myself who had decided to ‘stand up and be counted’ even though we don’t belong to any political organisations.

Read more: Fuel Included Blog

People’s Climate March – Part 1

Fast Charging the ZOE at Toddington (Image: T. Larkum)
Fast Charging the ZOE at Toddington (Image: T. Larkum)

On 21 September I had a bit of an adventure, travelling down to London to attend the People’s Climate March – my first ever protest march.

I have been concerned about climate change for about three years, and have blogged about climate and energy for the last two. Wanting to know more about the scientific understanding of it I completed an online educational course ‘Climate Change in 4 Dimensions’ earlier this year. While I would highly recommend the course, learning more about the subject has only reinforced my concerns. The scientific conclusions are clear – the climate is changing fast, it’s caused by human carbon dioxide emissions, and it’s going to have major impacts on our lives and especially on the lives of our children and grandchildren.

Having made many changes in my lifestyle to reflect my concerns – including installing solar panels on our house, switching to a renewable energy supplier, and buying and blogging about my Renault ZOE electric car – it seemed to me that the next natural step was to become more active politically. I’m not sure what direction that will take long-term, but I felt it was necessary to start by ‘standing up to be counted’ and attending the first ever Climate March.

Slow Charging the ZOE at Highgate (Image: T. Larkum)
Slow Charging the ZOE at Highgate (Image: T. Larkum)

Read more: Fuel Included Blog

An open letter to Renault

My ZOE charging at 43kW on an international trip (Image: Surya)
My ZOE fast charging at 43kW on an international trip (Image: Surya)

Ever since I received my ZOE earlier this year, I have been very happy with it. It has done everything I have expected from it. So far I have been a happy customer.

Some of the issues I had with the car have also been dealt with since then: the dashboard has been updated to a darker colour and customers now get the option to buy the battery with the car. Renault has also restated their intention to offer battery upgrades with longer ranges in the future. All of this had strengthened me in my opinion that I had made the right choice in buying the ZOE.

This week Renault released information on future changes to the product line which includes a smaller, more efficient motor with built in inverter and up to 8% longer range. That is fantastic news of course. The news also had a small bit of detail in it which doesn’t sit right with me: the new, more efficient inverter is now better suited for charging at 3kW, but only goes up to 22kW, not 43kW. This increases the minimum charging time from 30 minutes to 60 minutes.

Renault argues that the 43kW feature isn’t often used. And that is no doubt true. I have used that function a number of times, but 95% of the time, I don’t use it. But when I do use it, I am more than happy it is there. I’ll go even further: I wouldn’t buy a ZOE that can’t charge at least at 43kW. When I make my yearly trip to the UK, I’ll be doing multiple fast charges a day. If those took twice as long, not only would I be unhappy, the other EV drivers waiting in line for me to finish would be unhappy as well. But it would make international travel with the car impractical.

Renault probably argues that that is not what the car was designed for. And it probably isn’t, but my experience tells me that it is perfectly suited for that. It certainly didn’t bother me and in fact I bought the car with that in mind.

But I already own a ZOE. Why would I then complain? My fast charge capability won’t go away, will it? No, it won’t. But I will be impacted.

Renault has given a strong signal to the industry it won’t support the 43kW AC standard in the future. If they don’t support it, why would the people who install the infrastructure support it? After all, the amount of cars with 43kW capabilities is still low, and if Renault does indeed execute this change to the car, the amount will stay low in the future.

The surplus cost for 43kW against 22kW might be low, but the cost is there and I can certainly imagine some companies unwilling to invest further in this standard. And that will have an impact on me when I use my beloved car.

So therefore my plea to Renault:

Please don’t leave your existing customers with capabilities they can’t use. Keep on supporting this great technology you pioneered and which was one of my main reasons for choosing the ZOE.

The changes Renault has made since I bought my car confirmed that I was right, but if Renault now stops supporting their own standard, I will see no other option than to distrust the company in the future, and in that case I can’t see me buying an EV from them in the future.

I’m certain I’m not the only person with this opinion, so please Renault, respect your customers and support your own technology today and in the future.

A concerned customer

Renault lifts the lid on future mobility ideas

New Renault ZOE motor (Image: Renault)
New Renault ZOE motor (Image: Renault)

Renault today lifted the lid on new approaches to low-fuel consumption, low-emissions mobility…

All were unveiled at an Innovations@Renault event in Paris, where the company’s Co-operative Innovations Laboratory (LCI) – a think tank that unites engineers, designers and customer survey specialists – gave a behind-the-scenes peek into how Renault powertrains and propulsion systems might evolve in the next few years.

New, compact electric motor

The new, compact electric motor ­– designed and made entirely by Renault – delivers similar performance to those in use today but is around 10 per cent smaller. It is a synchronous unit with a wound rotor and delivers 65 kW (88hp) and 220 Nm of torque.  It was designed by Renault’s motor engineers in France and manufactured in Renault’s Cléon plant.

Renault has switched from macro-module stacking to fully integrated modules, assembled closely so that no external power supply cables are necessary. The junction box and integrated Chameleon charger (as fitted to ZOE) are contained within a single Power Electronic Controller, which is 25 per cent smaller than existing systems.

The motor is now air-cooled, simplifying the system with only the Power Electronic Controller continuing to be cooled by water. Improved electronic management reduces charging times using the 3kW and 11kW flexi-cable, while a redesigned inverter improves efficiency and reducing power consumption.

Read more: Fuel Included

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