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Geneva show: Renault Australia looks forward to Zoe

Charged and ready: The production Zoe (pictured) closely resembles the concept version premiered at the 2010 Paris motor show.

Renault unveils production-ready Zoe destined to be the cheapest EV in Europe

Renault logo8 Mar 2012

By MIKE COSTELLO

RENAULT has revealed the production version of the Zoe EV ahead of its European release in the third quarter of this year, when it will become the cheapest electric car on the continent.

The Clio-sized car will be priced in France from just €15,700 (A$19,500) after applying a €5000 (A$6200) government subsidy.

It is claimed to have the longest driving range of any mass-produced EV at 210km, courtesy of more efficient regenerative-braking and air-conditioning systems, and unique Michelin tyres, though Renault admits this will fall to between 100km and 150km in “real-world” suburban driving.

Unlike the French car-maker’s other electric vehicles such as the Fluence and Kangoo ZE, the Zoe has been designed from the ground up as an electric-only affair and is not based on an existing internal-combustion-engined model.

It does, however, retain the same pricing structure, where the purchase price does not include the battery, which is instead provided on a monthly lease plan of €79 (around A$99) covering 12,500km per year over a period of 36 months.

While not yet confirmed for Australia, Zoe looks certain to join the Fluence and Kangoo EVs – the former is set for release here later this year and the latter should be here by mid-2013 – as early as next year.

35 center imageRenault Australia corporate communications coordinator Emily Ambrosy said the company saw electric vehicles as a major part of its future in the local market, with Zoe firmly in the mix.

“We love Zoe,” she told GoAuto. “It’s the future of Renault and we are very committed to electric vehicles and having a comprehensive line-up, and we look forward to being able to offer it in the future.” Renault Australia has a partnership with EV infrastructure provider Better Place to provide battery leases for the Fluence ZE here and this system would likely also apply to the Zoe.

Fluence will be priced from under $40,000 in Australia.

The only other mainstream passenger EVs currently available in Australia – which does not have government subsidies like those in Europe – are the Mitsubishi i-MiEV ($48,800) and the Nissan Leaf ($51,500 with delivery from June), both of which include the cost of the battery in the purchase price.

Zoe shares much of its drivetrain with the Nissan Leaf EV, but its smaller size and greater economy of scale – Renault projects Zoe will be the biggest-selling EV globally within three years – will help keep pricing down.

Power comes from a 65kW/220Nm synchronous motor via a single-gear transmission, providing a top speed of 135km/h.

Battery recharge times vary from 30 minutes to nine hours depending on the power source.

Zoe’s edgy styling, including a distinctive nose, previews the future of Renault design and is likely to provide a pointer to style of the next-generation Clio, which debuts at the Paris motor show in September this year.

At 4084mm long, 1730mm wide, 1568mm high and with a generous 338-litre boot, the five-seat Zoe is similar in size to an average light car such as the Clio, Volkswagen Polo and Mazda2.

The airy cabin design takes cues from the Leaf and debuts the French company’s R-Link multimedia system that features a seven-inch touchscreen tablet, sat-nav, speech recognition and a host of connectivity technology.

All Zoe variants can be monitored remotely via mobile phone, tablet or computer, with users able to control the battery charging remotely (switching it on or off) and adjust the cabin cooling and heating system, which operates when the vehicle is charging.

Renault-Nissan Alliance chairman and CEO Carlos Ghosn said the Zoe EV “heralds the beginning of a new era of electric mobility for all and confirms our commitment to electric vehicles”.

“It marks an important step for Renault, which has a 110-year history of making major innovations a concrete reality for ordinary motorists,” he said.

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