Renault Zoe EV: Like Driving a French Kitchen Appliance

French auto maker Renault is releasing the most forward looking full electric vehicle to hit the road yet, the 2012 Renault Zoe.  The new model is zero emissions, goes from 0 to 60 in 8 seconds(not bad for a compact electric), and delivers 80 horsepower with plenty of immediate electric torque.  Rapid delivery of torque is the one area where an electric vehicle actually outperforms a traditional combustion engine.

The exterior design is forward looking, but not in hyper-conceptual way.  It makes a statement compatible with whats under the hood, which is futuristic practicality.

Designer Axel Breun says, “The Zoe is designed from the wheels up around Renault’s third-generation electric drivetrain. We wanted the car to look new and different because this is the future, but it’s still a practical compact car, so we don’t want it to look strange. It has a high belt line because of the battery. The large Renault logo on the front will feature on other Renault cars eventually.

“The light colours are softer and friendlier, which suits the technology and the wellness technology inside,” he said. “Philips is working with us on the lighting and Loreal will be helping us with a perfume and hydration diffuser.”

Full electric drive trains are smaller than combustion or hybrid systems, which allows Renault to mold the Zoe into an aerodynamic teardrop shape, with a blunt nose and tapered rear-end to cut wind resistance.  Renault lists the drag co-efficient as 0.29, which is an impressive feat of engineering.

So you may ask, “Why does this vehicle weigh more than 3,000 lbs?”  The answer?  The battery.  Zoe’s lithium-ion battery pack is good for roughly 100 miles on a full 8-hour charge.  If a driver runs low in the middle of the day, a 10-minute quick-charge is enough to extend driving another 31 miles.  There is also the option of swapping the battery pack out, which only takes a few minutes.

For Phoenix Valley auto and tech enthusiasts, the Renault is not currently available.  Many auto industry insiders have speculated that the Renault could make it’s way to the US and Phoenix Valley area via a partnering with an American auto manufacturing firm, similar to the way in which the Italian auto manufacturer Fiat is returning to the North American market.  Perhaps Renault could even partner with Fiat to develop and deliver a tailor made North American fleet in the near future.

Phoenix Valley drivers who are interested in progressive auto design can check this blog for further developments, and should also consider attending the Phoenix Arizona International Auto Show, taking place over Thanksgiving weekend at the Phoenix Arizona Convention Center.

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