The Renault Zoe, an all-electric three-door supermini, is available to order now in the UK. Prices will start from £13,650 and first deliveries are expected to arrive in spring 2013.
The starting price for the Zoe applies after a 25 per cent reduction of the cost courtesy of the Government's Plug-In Car Grant scheme, which is eligible for any new electric car or van purchased.
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However, a monthly battery leasing cost of £70 will also be included in the final contract.
Interested buyers can reserve the electric supermini by paying a £49 pre-order payment.
The Renault Zoe is an important car for both Renault and the future of electric cars in general, and has been garnering much interest as a result.
When it launches it will become the cheapest new electric car on sale to the public, as long as you don't count the £7,000 Renault Twizy which is not classed as a car but as a quadracycle.
Overall then the Renault Zoe has a lot to live up to, as it could very well represent the best chance electric cars in general have to make a real impact on markets across Europe and beyond.
The Renault Zoe is driven by a 65kW electric motor which produces the equivalent of 87bhp, while a maximum torque of 220Nm is instantly delivered. The top speed of the Zoe is limited to 84mph, while the 0-60mph acceleration time is estimated at around eight seconds.
Significantly Renault says the Zoe has the longest possible range of any mass-produced electric car, with an official maximum projected range of 130 miles on a full charge.
The French manufacturer estimates however that in typical use the Zoe will manage between 60 and 90 miles before it needs to be plugged in again.
Since the Renault Zoe won't produce any CO2 emissions, owners of this car will be exempt from paying road tax.
Like with other Renault electric vehicles on sale right now, customers who purchase the Zoe will not buy the car's battery outright but rather they will lease it. Prices for leasing the Zoe's battery starts at £70 per month for a three year deal covering up to 7,500.
Customers can rent the battery for extra miles, including packages covering up to 9,000, 10,500 or 12,000 miles.
A three year battery lease covering 12,000 miles will cost Zoe drivers £93 per month. However many miles customers choose to cover on their lease deal, the price of it will increase by £10 if covers two years, or by £20 if it lasts for just one whole year.
Specifications and technology
Customers have the choice between three specifications for the Renault Zoe, starting with the basic Expression trim. It is followed by Dynamique Zen and Dynamique Intens which are both priced at £14,750.
The Dynamique Zen model adds a dark interior trim and a rear-view camera, while the Dyanmique Intens model sports a light interior trim plus Teflon seat coatings.
All models come with various luxury equipment items including climate control, Bluetooth, cruise control and satellite-navigation.
There are also some more unique gadgets onboard the Renault Zoe, such as the 'ZE Voice'. This is an onboard alarm which is meant to warn passengers of the car's presence when it is travelling between 1mph to 18mph.
This has been introduced to prevent passenger collisions whilst the Zoe is travelling through a car park or busy street, a scenario commonly feared to occur with electric vehicles.
The driver of the Zoe can switch between three different sounds or choose to switch the ZE Voice off at the touch of a button.
Another unique gadget feature on the Zoe is the programmable pre-conditioned settings which can heat or cool the cabin to the driver's preference.
Also, while the Zoe is being charged, a charcoal cabin air filter is activated to remove any bad smells and pollutants, and even substances such as pollen and soot.
Written by Stephen Goldasz