Fleet News

First Drive: Renault ZOE Dynamique Zen



Fleet managers are being urged to take a long, hard look at the way they use their vehicles before deciding to make the switch to electric mobility.

They need to take account of vehicle duty cycles and the mileage they cover in order to compare the cost of operating a groundbreaking battery city car model with a diesel-powered hatchback of similar size, believes Renault UK EV brand manager Andy Heiron.

“Companies really must examine all the operating statistics of their cars to work out how our new ZOE EV squares up with running a conventional car like a Clio.

“ At the 15,000 miles mark, I'd say the choice between the two is a close call, but at half that mileage, the cost of leasing the battery for the ZOE would overtake the fuel bills for the Clio. If you're not spending £70 on a tank of diesel each month, you'll not cover the battery lease on the ZOE,” he told Fleet News.

Priced from under £14,000, the three-model range hailed by Renault as the breakthrough in persuading drivers to swap internal combustion for electricity will come with three-year battery leases pitched from £70 a month for use up to 7,500 miles to £93 for 12,000 miles when it goes on sale in June.

“We believe this car starts a new era in electric mobility and we are talking to a lot of fleets about it. But I don't want our field force to evangelise the ZOE because it's vital that the numbers stack up. We have no desire to force people to make the switch from diesel against their will - it has to be an informed choice,” said Heiron as the range was launched in Portugal. 

Smoothly styled and providing room for five with a 338-litre boot that extends to 1,225-litres with the rear seats folded, the ZOE is a cute, good-looking car that's remarkably easy to drive. With full torque instantly available, it is fast away from the lights, builds speed smoothly in near silence and behaves with impressive aplomb.

Packed with technology involving 60 patents, it adapts automatically to different levels of battery charging, boasts a new multimedia system linked with a wide range of services and can be programmed to heat or cool its interior from a smart phone. It is also the first EV to be supplied with a free wall box for domestic charging.

Thanks to innovations in regenerative braking and heat pump technology and and helped by the latest tyre technology, the car has an official 130-mile range - the longest in its class - but Renault says that a full charge is likely to provide 60 miles of real-life driving in winter and 90 miles in warmer weather.

Equipment is comprehensive on all versions of a car that sets a fresh benchmark in practical zero emission travel and includes a low-speed pedestrian warning system, climate control and hill start assist. Both the Dynamique Intens and Dynamique Zen cost the same and come with a hands-free keycard, auto lights and wipers and additional multimedia features accessed from a leather-trimmed steering wheel.

However, the top versions differ in interior ambience, with the darker Intens featuring a rear parking camera and the lighter Zen having a Teflon trim that resists staining and is waterproof and even boasts an active scent diffuser, ioniser and toxicity sensor. 

By Maurice Glover

Fuel costs
Significant fuel savings can be achieved by switching to electric power – but the ZOE costs more than a comparable-size diesel car if annual usage is less than 7,500 miles.
CO2 emissions
Electric power means the ZOE is free from CO2, Nox, carbon monoxide or particle emissions.
Residual values
As good as the Zoe is, its range remains a major stumbling block – as does the battery rental when viewed against the cost of running conventionally-driven cars likely to be used over short distances.
Driver appeal
Driving on electricity is different – acceleration is rapid and progress is noiseless. Even though range is up to 90 miles, adapting driving style to maximise use of brake regeneration can extend this by 18 per cent.
FN Verdict
Easily the best battery car so far, the ZOE shows how technology has improved to make electric mobility more viable for everyday transport – as long as users are able to plan trips that stay within the car’s effective range.

CO2 emissions and fuel consumption data correct at time of writing. The latest figures are available in the Fleet News fuel cost calculator and the company car tax calculator.

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