Mar 262012

Renault Zoe – Electric Car

After numerous prototypes were all released under the same name going as far back as early 2005, most auto watchers would have been forgiven for thinking that Renault was never destined to actually release a vehicle named ‘Zoe’. But that looks set to change later this year.

Renault Zoe - Electric Car

Renault Zoe – Electric Car

Renault Zoe – Electric Super Mini

Vastly different to the concept vehicle displayed at the 2005 Geneva motor show, an open-top car with three seats, the real Renault Zoe will instead be an electric super mini just a bit longer than a Renault Clio and a hell of a lot greener. What looks set to stand the Renault Zoe apart from its EV competitors is the car’s stated range, which is due to reach up to 130 miles. As such, this looks certain to be something of a plug-in revolution, a vehicle that can actually produce the kind of range only usually available with petrol and diesel cars.

Renault Zoe – Top Speed

The trade-off appears to be small and fairly insignificant. Reaching a top speed of just 84 miles per hour, the Renault Zoe would be comparable to other commercially available plug-ins such as the Chevrolet Volt and the Nissan Leaf. And of course a car of this size in a petrol or diesel version would hardly produce much more in the speed stakes.

Indeed, buyers of vehicles the size of a Renault Clio or Zoe are hardly factoring in top speed as their most important consideration. Vehicle range, on the other hand, is important, no matter the type of vehicle, so Renault could be on to a real winner with the Zoe.

Renault Zoe – Purchase Price

Of course, the other major factor associated with electric vehicles, and the reason they are still struggling to catch on, is price, and here again the Zoe looks to be a winner. When Renault showcased an older prototype of the car in Paris in 2010, it was suggested that the retail price would be around €15,000 (£12,500) which would again put it top of the class when it comes to electric vehicles in this segment of the market. This also leads to other possibilities.

Renault Zoe – Subsidy

Most electric vehicles already on the market have been supported by generous government subsidies designed to reward manufacturers and the buyer for investing in green technology. This is mainly due to the high retail price, which manufacturers and buyers alike argue would simply be unaffordable and therefore not commercially viable otherwise. In turn, this has attracted criticism from detractors who argue that the car industry should be subject to costly subsidies in what is supposed to be an age of austerity.

Renault Zoe – Cheaper than a regular Clio

The point about the Renault Zoe is that, at this price, it would barely be more expensive than a vehicle of a comparable size. A new Renault Clio, for example, starts at about £11,000 in the UK. So when you facture in road tax and the saving on fuel, we could be about to see the launch of an electric vehicle that works out a great deal cheaper than a diesel or petrol equivalent when all the extras are factored in. That’s even without the need for a single government subsidy.

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