If you are from the United States, you may have just heard about the Renault Zoe in car shows or online discussions but this subcompact is being girded to be the most important European vehicle in the decade.
Why so? It is built by one of the largest European automakers, Renault, through partnerships with Nissan. Nissan’s flagship in the electric revolution is its iconic all-electric Leaf. How the market accepts the Zoe will determine the future of all electric cars in Europe in the long run. This is because there are quite a number of subcompacts as well as diesel compact cars in Europe. Many car owners live in multiple dwelling housing plans without their own garages, making the European car market a tougher sell for any carmaker let alone an all electric car maker.
Another factor is that France’s reliance on nuclear power creates a better option when looking at the greenhouse gas emissions coal fired electricity plants generated. France also has experience with electric vehicles, with the AutoLib electric car-sharing program placing nearly two thousand Bollore Blue Cars for use within the capital region. Thus electric cars are not new to the French public and there is a clear understanding on how carbon emissions impacts the environment.
The Zoe utilizes a 66 kWh electric motor able to generate 162 lb/ft of torque, with power coming from its 22 kWh lithium ion battery pack. According to the NEDC, Europe’s equivalent to the U.S. EPA, the vehicle has a range of 210 km on a single full charge. It has a top speed of 135 km/h and utilizes a fast charging ‘Cameleon’ system, allowing the car battery to be charged between thirty minutes to nine hours depending on the power input. This design is a five door hatchback and full blown production commenced in 2012.
With its very simple compact design and specifications, one of the major hurdles for its full acceptance is the infrastructure involved in making the Zoe the most used vehicle on French roads. One of the issues is the lack of public charging stations and there is still a conflict on whether volume dictates the infrastructure or the infrastructure would come before the volume of cars.
The simplest reason why the Zoe is of utmost importance is that there is no gasoline version. It’s either the Zoe or bust they say.