Zoe helps Renault power on with electric
THE flow of new electric vehicles coming on stream over the next four years looks set to turn into a torrent, with Renault one of the prime movers.
Not only does the French car maker intend to have eight new pure electric models by the end of 2022 but autonomous vehicles (those which drive themselves) also figure large in the company‘s plans.
In fact it intends to have 15 autonomous vehicles available within the next four years and currently there is a large business park in Normandy where four such vehicles are already in use.
The next Renault Clio, Captur and Megane models will all include electric versions, broadening the choice for buyers who have already opted for the Zoe, not to mention converts to the new silent world of motoring.
But while the Zoe is currently the only family sized electric car the company produces there is also the slightly wacky Twizy – where two passengers sit one behind the other like on the motorbike.
And less well known is the company’s new range of electric vans, including the new Master ZE, a very large van designed to reach city centres with zero emissions.
Up until now the Zoe has only been available with a 90hp engine but now there’s a new 110hp engine – at a £750 premium – designed to improve acceleration and high speed driveability.
Renault says the new model has a range of around 186 miles, although drivers I spoke to have been known to get more than 200 miles on one charge.
In cold winter conditions the range drops to around 124 miles, but that’s still well within most people’s daily commute range.
If you buy a new Zoe part of the deal is that Renault will fit your home with a 7kW domestic wall box quick charging point in with the price.
That means a completely flat battery can be charged to 100 per cent in just over eight hours, or overnight.
But while that might sound a long time most batteries will rarely have to be charged from zero.
Sampling one of the new models I was instantly impressed by the interior space of the car.
The height of the Zoe means enough headroom for even the tallest driver or passenger while legroom too is more than adequate.
Priced at £17,420 the R110 ZE model that I drove had a maximum speed of 84 miles per hour and a lively 0-62 mph time of 11.4 seconds.
But it’s in mid range driving that the Zoe is most impressive with plenty of power on tap when you need to speed things up a bit.
And as well as being silent it’s also a very refined car, cocooning passengers from the hustle and bustle of life on the road.
Alongside the digital speedometer there’s an energy monitor showing not only how much power you have left but how much you are using at any given time, around 15kW at 40 miles per hour for example.
That means that, just like with a petrol powered car, you can lighten your right foot and see consumption drop remarkably while still retaining your speed.
The same monitor also shows you how much power you are putting into the battery when braking or not using the accelerator, helping you to extend the range of the car.
With the ZE spec, driven here, you can monitor the battery charging from your smartphone and even set the cabin temperature ready for when you set off each day in the winter.
And if you are worried about the safety of pedestrians when driving this five-door, five-seater, you can now use an audible warning to tell pedestrians and cyclists you are heading towards them.