Renault Zoe orders open as electric car range grows
Does Renault now build the best electric cars in the UK? With the launch of the Renault Zoe supermini, it certainly seems like the French car maker is cornering the market in electric travel.
The new Renault Zoe is a close relation to the new Renault Clio, set to be launched in 2013. The Zoe is a similar size to the three-door hatchback and comes with a similar front end design including the new-look elongated front grille.
However, it is a distinctly different car, adding thin headlamps and, most importantly, an electric powertrain to the small car market.
Orders are now open for the Renault Zoe with prices starting from just £13,000 - making it the cheapest electric car on sale in the UK.
The Renault Zoe is somewhat of a breakthrough in electric cars, not just because of its low price but because it comes with some unique electric car technology.
This includes the battery, which can power the car for 110 miles and can be used with any charger, meaning quicker and more practical charging from any electric charging station in the UK.
Inside, the premium-feel interior is home to several new additions including clever 'spa' technology that will not only 'filter' the air inside but will also release soothing smells, measure air quality outside the car and display air quality information on a screen.
The 'spa in a car' is the first of its kind and perfectly fits in with Renault's electric car philosophy that has seen it launch three other electric vehicles in the past couple of years.
Renault electric cars
These include the Renault Fluence, the UK's first four-door electric saloon and one of the most practical electric cars in the UK.
It is joined by the Renault Kangoo ZE electric van and the tiny Renault Twizy, a quirky two-seat car that offers a unique take on emissions-free city driving.
But can these electric cars signal a revolution in the UK's driving habits? Renault thinks so.
The main concern with electric cars is range. If a driver travels more than 100 miles, chances are they would have to stop for several hours to recharge.
However, the charger system introduced in the Renault Zoe promises quicker charge times by using fast chargers, which are capable of charging a battery to 80 per cent capacity in just 30 minutes.
Renault is also developing battery swap stations that will replace an entire electric battery with a fully charged unit in minutes, making it as easy to charge an electric car as fuelling a petrol or diesel model.
In addition, a huge push to introduce charging points across the UK is currently underway and it is now easier than ever to find a nearby charger for those who are running low.
Electric cars enjoy zero emissions on the road and this means free road tax and exemption from the London congestion charge.
As drivers worry about rising fuel costs this could be the clincher for electric cars. CO2-based road tax is set to rise in 2013 and so are fuel prices, but electric cars will avoid both of these.
Plus, specialist green car insurance will help out those looking for cheaper insurance costs for their electric vehicle.
As infrastructure grows, so too does the relevance of electric cars. For Renault and its foursome of electric vehicles, this can only be a good thing.