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Cars Zoe electric car (Image Credit: Renault)

Published on January 4th, 2013 | by Zachary Shahan

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Renault Zoe Deliveries Begin, Sales Strategy Changes

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January 4th, 2013 by Zachary Shahan
 
 
Deliveries of the Renault Zoe 100% electric car have just begun in France. The little electric car’s big selling point (besides being electric) is its low cost. However, the Zoe is far behind schedule, despite Renault’s strong focus on EVs, and the company isn’t exactly leading the tables in Europe.

Zoe electric car (Image Credit: Renault)

The price for the Zoe is just €13,700 (including VAT) after taking the €7,000 French government incentive for EVs. That’s pretty darn good, but it’s going to take Renault quite a bit of success to catch up to its competitors.

“European Renault, though at the forefront of producing EVs in Europe, is one of the vehicle manufacturers with the worst performance in Europe,” Frost & Sullivan writes.

“Renault invested approx. $5 billion in the production of electric vehicles, which prevented them from investing in new models of conventional cars. Whether this strategy pays off and the Renault Zoé attracts much interest remains to be seen.”

Furthermore, Frost & Sullivan thinks that Renault is a little prematurely focusing on the consumer market. “The current EV market is a fleet market, a B2B market, not a B2C market,” Frost & Sullivan Senior Consultant, Nicolas Meilhan, said in an interview.

That may be the case, primarily, but it’s clear that EV sales are increasing at a good rate, and lower cost EVs (like the Zoe) are sure to do better.

Zoe Doesn’t Address City Driving/Traffic Dilemma

It seems that Frost & Sullivan’s beef with the Zoe seemed more to be beef with cars.

“A lot of people think the EV is the perfect car for the city. But the truth is it only addresses the local pollution issue; it neither addresses the congestion problems nor the parking issue most cities face today…. If you really want to reduce CO2 emissions and energy consumption, especially in cities, then governments and local authorities should only allow cars with a maximum 500kg weight. A 500kg gasoline car – a gasoline Twizy for example (which does not exist) — emits less CO2 in its lifecycle than a the Renault Zoé EV weighing 1400kg,” Meilhan said.


 
“If you compare the same Renault Zoé (EV) with a bike, the easiest means of transport in the city, then you have to put more than 140 people into the car in order to make it as energy efficient as your 10kg bike,” Meilhan added.

Yes, of course, as I just noted in my previous article, automobile traffic is a serious and costly problem. Nonetheless, as long as there is strong customer demand for medium to large cars (and weak government transportation policies), we will have cars on the roads and in our cities. And at least EVs do address the pollution problem.

How To Sell An EV

Now, for those of us aware that we have stuck our societal head in a noose (with the fabric being greenhouse gas emissions), the zero emissions of an EV is the biggest selling point. But many are still asleep to this issue, and dropping a couple grand on a vehicle is a big decision that you make based on many factors.

As I’ve discussed (and analyzed), EVs are actually much cheaper to own for many of us now – the fuel savings outweigh the slightly higher “at the register” cost. But again, as some of our readers have noted, most people don’t use calculations and logic to decide between cars — we humans care about other things, too. For example: coolness, comfort, style, power, color.

Car companies selling EVs either didn’t think things through real carefully (optimistically) or haven’t been all that eager to sell EVs at all (cynically), as they have basically left some of the biggest benefits to EVs out of their sales strategies. I’m the optimistic sort, so my guess is the former. In either case, it’s high time things change.

EVs are super quiet, almost silent — that’s a big comfort improvement (very few humans actually like noise). Additionally, they require almost no maintenance — forget monthly oil changes, tune-ups, etc. Thirdly, with an EV, you don’t have to stand at a smelly gas station to fill up your tank (and as one reader has noted, can save a bit of money on all the crappy gas station junk food… while also improving your health). Notably, inhaling gas fumes isn’t exactly good for you. EVs also have great acceleration due to their instant torque. Furthermore, EVs are a great way to “fight” oil wars.

Renault isn’t focusing on all these matters, but it is apparently broadening its sales strategy to focus more on how quiet EVs are.

More stories on the Renault Zoe:

 
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About the Author

is the director of CleanTechnica, the most popular cleantech-focused website in the world, and Planetsave, a world-leading green and science news site. He has been covering green news of various sorts since 2008, and he has been especially focused on solar energy, electric vehicles, and wind energy since 2009. Aside from his work on CleanTechnica and Planetsave, he's the founder and director of Solar Love, EV Obsession, and Bikocity. To connect with Zach on some of your favorite social networks, go to ZacharyShahan.com and click on the relevant buttons.



  • energyman

    At 14000 Euro plus 100 Euro a month for the battery pack this is starting to hit the right spot financially as a second car. It is a real car too (not some glorified trike with bodywork made out of recycled egg crates) and passes real car safety standards and with a real world 60mile+ range would make a good commuter/school run/shopping car. But you will still need a real car to go away and see granny at the week end and so on. Plus it costs Renault lots more than 20,000 Euro to make one! Residuals should be rock solid though if they get the build quality right and it should last more or less forever – there is almost nothing to wear out – I might even buy one…Problem is apparently it doesn’t fit the standard charging connection so you have to buy a home charger and you cant top it up in the car park while you are at work.

    • Bob_Wallace

      The average US driver would find themselves range limited only 11 days a year. That tells us that there are a lot of people who might need to rent a long distance car or use public transportation less than five days a year.

  • Rui

    I’m writing from Europe and from my point of view the EV sucess is dependent of oil prices. Every week oil prices go up. The times when you could drive around and enjoy nice roads and so forth are over with ICE. Even with the modern diesel engines that allow 5L/100km it’s expensive to drive. I drive about 100km per day and an EV with this range would be ok for me. I could charge it during the night (220V) like I do with my cell phone. However, the EV offer is very limited and some auto makers want to sell the car (which are still more expensive that similar ICE ones) and charge a monthly fee for the batteries use. This sales model sucks. All the considerations about emissions are in my view secondary from the consumer point of view. Why would I care about emissions if at the same time US and China are burning oil and coal at an incredible rate? So, my motivation would be to save money eliminating the need of buying gas or diesel.

    • Bob_Wallace

      We need to get the price of EVs down to where everyone is motivated to buy one in order to save money. When we get there oil will be done.

      Right now a lot of people are in your situation, range is adequate. Especially if the household has a couple of vehicles and/or public transportation for long trips is good.

      The best way to get prices down is for more people to stretch a little an buy an EV. Get sales and manufacture numbers up.

  • Just_Chris

    “But the truth is it only addresses the local pollution issue” WTF? the WHO estimate globally 1.3 million people a year die from urban pollution. If France takes it’s fair share that’s 12,200 people a year not to mention the thousands of people a year who just get sick and don’t die. That comment ranks along side with my all time hated comment relating urban pollution and the WHO’s figures that I heard on the news a few years back, I wish I’d written down who said it and when but it went along the lines of “..of course these figures look bad but in reality urban pollution only really effects people who are already in vulnerable groups like the very young or the very old..”. Well that’s ok then, as long as it is only affecting babies and the elderly who cares. When did parking and sitting traffic become more important than peoples health? And another thing the Zoe is not going to displace 500kg petrol vehicles it’s going to displace regular cars so you go from a regular car that needs perhaps 60 kWh/100km (that’s 6 litres of petrol)/100km which isn’t bad for city driving) to the Zoe which needs less than 10 kWh/100km for urban driving. This of course is before you even get into the other benefits of electric cars like grid balancing, using domestically produced energy vs imported energy, better handling, reduced infrastructure (think about it, petrol station vs plug socket), etc..

    • http://zacharyshahan.com/ Zachary Shahan

      Yeah, odd comment. I almost left it out, but decided to include it and just respond to it: “Yes, of course, as I just noted in my previous article, automobile
      traffic is a serious and costly problem. Nonetheless, as long as there is strong customer demand for medium to large cars (and weak government transportation policies), we will have cars on the roads and in our cities. And at least EVs do address the pollution problem.”

  • Anne

    “A
    lot of people think the EV is the perfect car for the city. But the
    truth is it only addresses the local pollution issue; it neither
    addresses the congestion problems nor the parking issue most cities face
    today”

    What a funny thing to say. The ZOE is a car, targeted at the consumers that feel that such a device suits their needs. If you want to solve congestion, you have to switch to biking/public transport. But Renault is not in these businesses. It is a car company.

    And the worst is that he is not even right. This so-called expert is handing out half truths, handily ignoring the Twizy, which DOES address congestion, road safety and
    parking issues, and the Car2go services, mostly based on ELECTRIC cars.

    Does the EV have to take the world on its shoulders and solve all environmental problems and at the same time bring world peace and prevent my sandwiches from landing peanut-butter-down?

    The EV is just a step in the right direction. People bashing the EV for not being a panacea usually have an agenda.

    • http://zacharyshahan.com/ Zachary Shahan

      I know — that struck me as very odd. Hence my response:

      “Yes, of course, as I just noted in my previous article, automobile traffic is a serious and costly problem. Nonetheless, as long as there is strong customer demand for medium to large cars (and weak government transportation policies), we will have cars on the roads and in our cities. And at least EVs do address the pollution problem.”

  • Anton

    I’m curious to find out how one recharges the vehicle on long-haul international drives?

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