We first saw the Renault ZOE concept back in 2009 at the Frankfurt Auto Show, and it was named the 2012 Paris Motor Show’s “Best Green Car,” due to be released this year. The Renault ZOE is the latest of four Renault electric vehicles [EV] that the maker is offering, and sales have just launched in France.
What sets the subcompact ZOE apart from most other EVs, or any vehicle for that matter, is cost, starting at just $27,300 before incentives.
Some analysts wonder if ZOE’s launch will make any difference to Renault as a whole. Despite offering the highest number of EVs by a single maker, Renault isn’t leading any sales statistics. “European Renault, though at the forefront of producing EVs in Europe, is one of the vehicle manufacturers with the worst performance in Europe,” notes Frost & Sullivan, an independent market research company.
While other EV companies have been working with fleet operations like the UK’s Milton Keynes E-Car Club, Renault’s spent some $5 billion developing their EV models for consumers, leaving little for development of more popular conventional vehicles. Renault is playing against the odds, offering the ZOE directly to consumers, where interest in EVs has yet to establish itself.
Investing in EV development is, for certain, a gamble, whether for a startup or an established company. Electric vehicles are finding their niche, though, for short-distance commuters and city drivers especially. Only time will tell if Renault’s gamble with the launch of its fourth EV is premature, or just in time to meet the increasing interest, especially when made available at such a compelling price.