Famously, it is at this end of the road test where the critical trajectory of most electrically powered cars stalls and falls away. Put simply, EVs, although very cheap to run, have proven far too expensive to buy for mainstream appeal.
Renault has sidestepped the detrimental effect of a higher asking price by offering the car with a competitive sticker – as low as £13,995, with grant, for the entry-level Expression Nav model – and transferring some of the overall expense to a battery rental plan.
Like a mobile phone contract, the cost of this is figured monthly, and by term length and usage. So for three years and 10,500 miles, Renault will relieve you of an additional £85 every month.
This is potentially a better option than buying the whole kit and caboodle, because although it introduces a fixed running cost, it simultaneously removes the anxiety of buying and owning a continuously degrading lithium ion battery. (It is guaranteed to reproduce at least 75 percent of its original charge capacity and can be exchanged for a new one at the end of the contract.)
Also included in the price – together with TomTom sat-nav, climate control, cruise control and Bluetooth – is the installation of a 7kW wall charger at your home. This will fully refuel the battery in three to four hours, via the Zoe’s seven-pin socket.
Thanks to the Chameleon charger tech, it’ll be quicker still from a fast-charging post, where a 43kW supply will deliver an 80 percent charge in just 30 minutes.
The problem – and it’s a significant one – comes when you are stranded somewhere between the two. Renault has opted not to include any way of charging the Zoe from a standard three-pin socket. It insists that, as using a conventional domestic outlet would take 12 hours and most people are expected to replenish their battery at home anyway, such a set-up would be redundant.
We heartily disagree. Even if the manufacturer is right and no Zoe owner would dream of driving long distance to stay at a friend’s overnight, removin