Renault Zoe Enters Market Slightly Ahead of Chevy Bolt As First ‘Affordable’ (Roughly) 200-Mile EV

While Americans and Europeans are anticipating the 238-mile range 2017 Chevy Bolt EV and Opel Ampera-e respectively, Renault is now taking orders in Europe for its approximately 200-mile range Zoe.

The upgraded battery in the otherwise mildly refreshed Zoe comes seemingly out of left field, at least to an American audience. Media reports in the U.S. have since last year credited Chevrolet for “beating” Tesla’s planned Model 3 to market as the first relatively affordable (sub-$40,000 before incentives) EV with 200 miles range.

It’s also known that the next-generation Nissan Leaf is being held back for some reason so few were looking in that direction, but the Leaf’s sister from the Renault-Nissan Alliance is being announced today as now also competitive in the next-gen range wars.

News was actually leaked of this yesterday, and today the automaker at the Paris Motor Show confirmed the Zoe with 41-kWh battery is rated 400 kilometers (248 miles) on the European NEDC cycle.

Implicitly acknowledging that NEDC is not very realistic, the company preemptively estimates real-world range at 300 km (186 miles) around town, but this will vary, and 200 will likely be attainable in more-sedate driving.

“The new Z.E. 40 battery has a real-world range of 300 kilometers in urban or suburban areas,” said the company.

The larger Bolt with 60-kWh pack is rated 238 miles combined on the EPA, so in that respect it does surpass the Renault. This is likewise true for the Bolt’s European sister, the Ampera-e, rated over 500 km (311 miles) on NEDC.

This said, the Renault is much closer range-wise to the GM vehicles than any other mainstream-priced EV – and it’s commensurately less expensive, starting at $24,500 (€21,900).

The Renault’s new Z.E. 40 battery is made at Renault’s Flins plant in France and will be available for delivery before the end of the year.

Zoe_data

To date, Chevrolet has not opened up orders for the Bolt, meaning the French car is ahead on that score, but Chevrolet has said first deliveries will be before the end of the year. It’s believed this may be in California and states that follow its zero-emission rules, though this remains to be seen for the Bolt ultimately destined to all 50 states.

It will also remain to be seen therefore who delivers vehicles first, but for Americans it won’t matter as the compact Zoe is not sold in the States.

Of greater interest will be sister company Nissan’s new Leaf which, while the preeminent electric product in the Renault-Nissan Alliance, has not seen any specific disclosures on the replacement for the first-generation model.

There’s a good chance however that the Zoe’s high-energy density lithium-ion technology is being readied also for the next Leaf, which could be a 2018 model.

“Renault and LG engineers have succeeded in increasing storage capacity without making the battery any bigger or a lot heavier,” said Renault. “It was optimized by working on the chemistry of the cells in order to increase their energy density, rather than stacking additional battery modules, a commonly used technique.

“This major new technology has been developed while ensuring the battery’s reliability or safety.”

A 22-kWh battery will also be available for the Zoe, which is Europe’s best-selling EV, and which could explain in part why it’s being upgraded ahead of the Leaf – though the Leaf is the top global seller by far.

The Zoe will be offered with either a 75- or 90-horsepower motor, and range is the same for either.

Included also in the Zoe – designed and built in France by Renault – will be new connected services and equipment upgrades.

One connected service will be Z.E. Trip which utilizes the car’s R-LINK navigation system to locate charging spots. Another is Z.E. Pass, described as a single access and payment solution for most public charging points.

A Z.E. smartphone app has also been enhanced to include door-to-door navigation.

EV fans might wish that this vehicle were sold Stateside as it could fill the bill for some. Europeans meanwhile may want to check it out as an alternative to the larger Opel Ampera-e.

Meanwhile, we’ll be on the lookout for more news on the Leaf, which is also expected to offer range competitive with the next-generation crop of EVs.

Renault website.