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Zoe aims to be global EV bestseller

Shoot for the mantle: Renault hopes its Zoe - which will debut overseas in mid-2012 and is likely to be launched here in 2013 - will become the world's bestselling EV.

Renault hopes its upcoming Australia-bound electric light car will be a top-seller

Renault logo24 Oct 2011

RENAULT is confident that the upcoming Zoe light car will become the world’s bestselling electric vehicle within the next three years.

Likely to be launched in Australia during 2013 after being unveiled in Europe in the middle of next year, the five-seat, five-door, electric-only hatchback’s price will be comparable to a diesel-powered Clio after various governmental EV tax breaks, the company has revealed.

Sharing most of its drivetrain componentry such as the electric motor and gearbox with the Fluence ZE, Kangoo ZE and closely related Nissan Leaf, the Zoe will benefit from lower costs associated with much greater economies of scale.

Also helping the bottom line will be an absence of expensive lightweight materials like carbon-fibre.

The Zoe, like the other electrified Renaults, is part of the company’s €4 billion ($A5.3 billion) investment in zero emissions technology as it strives to seize the mantle as the world’s leading EV provider.

As a result, Renault promises it will position the Zoe in the middle of the mainstream B-segment ‘supermini’ class in every market it reaches.

“We are aiming to price it as we would a Clio,” said Nicolas Renise, Renault’s program director for the Fluence ZE. “But of course that is a condition for government tax incentives.

35 center imageLeft: Renault Zoe. Bottom: Renault EV range (L-R Twizy, Zoe, Fluence ZE, Kangoo ZE).



“And in the future, increased production will reduce the price further.

“We are doing nearly normal cars with Zoe because we are targeting normal everyday people.”

This means an Australian sales assault should see Renault positioning the Zoe “significantly under” the sub-$40,000 asking price mooted for the Fluence ZE when it is released here in the final quarter of next year.

While Renault Australia will not confirm the arrival of the Zoe yet, it is believed a business case to price the hatch below $30,000 is being pursued aggressively so it can take on the popular Volkswagen Polo TDI DSG.

This is despite the current absence of state or federal governmental incentives for zero emission vehicles.

However, both Renault Australia and EV infrastructure specialists Better Place are hopeful of consumer assistance in the form of reduced taxes, cheaper registration and cheaper inner-city parking for vehicles with low-to-zero carbon emissions.

The Renault light car will benefit from switchable battery technology that allows owners wishing to venture away from home to use Better Place’s planned Battery Switch Stations.

Unlike the Fluence ZE, the Zoe’s battery pack is positioned low and flat in the middle of the floor for fast removal and replacement.

The goal is drive in and out of a Better Place station within three minutes – less than the time it takes to refuel most normal vehicles.

Renault says the production Zoe is “90 per cent” related to the Zoe Preview concept car of 2010.

Measuring 4086mm long, 1788mm wide and 1540mm high, its Fluence/Kangoo ZE-derived electric motor delivers 60kW of power and 222Nm of torque, providing an average range of 160km in the new standardised European NEDC combined cycle, with a top speed of 135km/h.

Even greater economies of scale are expected once Renault begins manufacturing the electric motor itself from 2013, instead of buying the unit from German manufacturer Continental AG.

“We could manage the design better as a pure EV,” said Mr Renise.

“We believe the Zoe’s core market will be as a second car for city dwellers.”

A Renault spokesman said the Zoe is the most important EV the company has ever developed.

“Zoe is very important to us because it is really the first proper EV that is all-new,” he said.

“The Fluence ZE and Kangoo ZE are derivatives of cars that already exist, and Twizy is a mix of a motorcycle and a car. But the Zoe is a true clean-sheet purpose-built EV.”

By 2015, as part of the Alliance that also includes Nissan, Dacia and Samsung, Renault forecasts it will sell 500,000 EVs globally, but that this figure will triple to 1.5 million units by the end of 2016.

“Zero emissions vehicles will generate millions of new customers for the Renault Alliance,” a company insider said.

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