► Official EV range increases by 101 miles
► Higher density battery cells are the key
► Could the Zoe eliminate range anxiety?
Renault could be poised to emulate Tesla’s achievements in the mainstream market with the latest version of its Zoe electric car. Thanks to a range of updates, it’s now claimed to be able to travel up to 250 miles on a single charge.
Hang on, it looks exactly the same as before!
Don’t be fooled by the fact that the Zoe’s bodywork has remained unfettered for 2017, because the biggest change is under the zero-emission vehicle’s skin – with the fitting of what Renault’s dubbed the ‘ZE 40’ battery.
Renault claims that with this new longer-range power pack installed, the Zoe effectively renders range anxiety obsolete – much in the same way Tesla’s Model S has done at the more luxurious end of the market.
That 250-mile range claim is based on the flawed NEDC tests for fuel efficiency all cars are subjected to in the EU, however, but rather candidly the French EV market leader suggests that 186 miles of emission-free driving is possible in real-world urban conditions. Under the same internal tests the current Zoe manages a comparatively paltry 106 miles.
Cutting-edge EV technology in a small hatch
Developed in conjunction with LG Chem, the new battery has the same physical dimensions as before but its weight has increased only fractionally.
Increasing the energy density of each of the lithium-ion battery’s cells has resulted in the storage capacity almost doubling from the previous high of 22kWh to 41kWh. Despite this, it takes broadly the same amount of time to charge it again – around half an hour’s required from a typical public charge point to replenish the range to the tune of 50 miles.
Not only does the new battery allow longer journeys to be undertaken in the Zoe, it also works in favour of people who like the idea of running an EV but find it a logistical nightmare to recharge it at home; suddenly getting a few days’ of commuting mileage from the office car park or at the supermarket while you ponder your groceries becomes viable.
New ZE services to make life easier
Two further services will be rolled out to British Zoe customers during 2017, helping make access to Europe’s estimated 80,000 charging points even easier.
ZE Trip utilises the R-Link navigation system to help planning longer trips which require an electrical top-up even easier, relaying real time data about whether the charging stations are unoccupied at your estimated time of arrival. You can also plan your route in advance using the dedicated ZE smartphone app, automatically uploading it to the Zoe’s multimedia system.
This complements ZE Pass, a system that simplifies the charging and payment process with a single app allowing you to use the services of any charge point supplier using a smartphone or tablet. No more lugging around a wallet’s worth of RFID cards.
The longer-range Renault Zoe, unveiled at the Paris motor show, goes on sale in the UK during November 2016.
Read CAR's long-term test review of the current Renault Zoe here
See more from the 2016 Paris motor show