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Paris show: Renault trials Zoe in Australia

Disconnected: Renault’s Zoe is the top-selling EV in Europe where governments provide incentives for all-electric cars.

Electric Zoe running around Melbourne as Renault mulls EV jump

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Renault logo3 Oct 2016

By RON HAMMERTON

RENAULT Australia has taken delivery of an all-electric Zoe light hatchback from Europe for evaluation purposes, but it cautions that the move does not mean it is planning to jump immediately into the EV passenger-car market.

Speaking at the Paris motor show where the French company introduced a new version of the Zoe with a theoretical 400km driving range, Renault Australia managing director Justin Hocevar said the lack of government incentives for such cars in Australia was still a barrier to electric motoring.

He said his company was taking a cautious approach to EV introduction, after seeing other companies struggle to make EVs work in this market where, unlike Europe, North America and China, governments provide little or no incentives for such cars.

Mr Hocevar said the increased driving range of Zoe – double the previous distance – greatly improved the appeal of the car for customers, but with a potential pricetag around the $40,000 mark, it would carry a $10,000-$12,000 premium over similar conventional cars.

“Really, this market needs some serious incentives like they have in other countries,” he said.

Mr Hocevar said incentives such as tax breaks or access to special parking with charging points would help kick-start EV sales in Australia without a heavy financial burden on governments.

“We would need to be doing fairly solid numbers over an extended period of, say, eight years,” he said.

The Zoe parked in Renault Australia’s basement in Melbourne for the past two months is a previous-generation version with an electric driving range of 200km on official European combined test cycle.

Mr Hocevar said that in real-world driving, the Zoe gets up to 170km on a full charge.

The latest Zoe with the latest high-density battery technology is said to get about 300km in real-world travel.

It can be charged in as little as 20 minutes on a fast charger, or about eight hours on a home socket.

Renault already has an EV toe in the water with four all-electric Kangoo ZE vans on trial with Australia Post, and an order for a few more with another company.

Meanwhile, Mr Hocevar says he is still waiting to hear if Renault’s new Megane sedan that is on show in Paris will be coming to Australia.

Likewise, the latest seven-seat Grand Scenic people-mover and Nissan Navara-based Alaskan ute are still up in the air for this market, despite Renault Australia’s interest in introducing them here.

On Megane sedan, Mr Hocevar said: “We hope to have an announcement about that soon.”

The company is the process of launching the Megane hatch in Australia.

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