Despite the fact there have been rumours for many years that electric vehicle manufacturers were monitoring the array of variables associated with driving styles, location, and battery capacity, more and more electric vehicle manufacturers are now admitting to this particular strategy. The Renault Zoe is available across Europe and has proven to be one of the more popular Renault electric vehicles of recent times. In what was seen by many as a reflection of the changing times, the approach to selling the vehicle is slightly different to the norm.
In order to reduce the upfront purchase cost of the Renault Zoe it was decided that the vehicle would be bought out right while the battery packs would be leased from Renault. In many ways this favours EV users because it reduces their initial outlay, although it does introduce a small monthly premium for leasing the battery packs. However, is this promoting Big Brother on the highways?
In many ways Renault, and Renault is not the only company to do this, has somewhat given the game away by confirming it is able to remotely disable the battery pack at the end of a lease or if payments are in arrears. This perfectly illustrates the fact that wireless communications are indeed a standard element of the modern-day electric vehicle, which opens an array of doors for electric vehicle manufacturers.
Quote from ElectricForum.com : "It was December 2012 when Renault brought out the Renault Zoe in a blaze of glory amid expectations that it would push the Renault electric vehicle business to new levels. The initial feedback from those who have driven and seen the vehicle has been extremely positive and the company does appear to have alleviated many of the concerns about electric vehicles amongst the general motoring public."
In relation to payment defaults, you can't really argue with Renault introducing the ability to disable a battery pack remotely. If you signed an agreement, if you have reneged on your payments, or there is some other dispute, you can't really complain when the company disables the battery pack. We only hope that the company is able to do this safely!
Big Brother is watching
It is now common knowledge that many electric vehicles will allow manufacturers to monitor driving styles, battery capacity, battery usage and perhaps more worryingly, the location of the vehicle at any point in time. At the moment there is probably nothing sinister about this "Big Brother" strategy, which in reality is as helpful to consumers as it is to manufacturers. However, what about the future?
There is no doubt that there will be small print in your leasing arrangement which will allow the likes of Renault to monitor battery usage, capacity and even the location of the vehicle. In a perfect world perhaps consumers should be more up to speed with the small print in various agreements they sign but who has the time or the inclination to do this?
Will the authorities get involved?
When you bear in mind the recent spying scandal associated with the U.S., effectively spying via the Internet, perhaps we are walking down a similar path with electric vehicle monitoring. While there are obvious benefits to monitoring battery capacity, driving styles, etc., there is also a need to respect the privacy of electric vehicle users. There doesn’t seem to be any danger at this moment in time, and the electric vehicle companies have been very upfront about this strategy, but perhaps this is something we should monitor for the future?