Renault Group

Renault ZOE: the story of the city car which revolutionized electric driving!

15 June 2020
5 min
renault zoe
With the ZOE Z.E. concept car unveiled in 2009, Renault asserted its desire to commit to large-scale electric mobility. The Group was the very first manufacturer in Europe to offer a model designed entirely for a fully electric drive. Since then, Renault ZOE has been enhanced, developed and improved over the course of its three successive generations, all while remaining true to its initial pledge: to make electric mobility accessible to all by meeting the needs of everyone.
by Renault Group

Presented in its production-ready version at the 2012 Geneva Motor Show, Renault ZOE reaffirmed the pioneering spirit which has driven the teams at Groupe Renault since its creation by giving unprecedented momentum to mobility. While ZOE has traded the bold coupé lines of the 2009 ZOE Z.E. concept car for an elegant bodywork, the production car retains its fluid features, dynamic look and calm interior feel. A nod to the coupé can be seen on the rear door handles integrated into the frame, as well as thoughtful details adapted to mass production and the needs of the greatest number of users.

Ever since then, ZOE has affirmed itself as the spearhead of Groupe Renault’s full line of electric vehicles. A range that is increasingly high-performance thanks to a decade of expertise acquired by the manufacturer combined with on-the-ground experience and the skills of 30,000 employees trained in the specifics of electric mobility. This not only concerns the motors and technology per se, but also all the related elements that give the electric car its position within a circular and sustainable strategy: for example, the recycled materials used for certain elements of new ZOE’s interior, and its escalating use as a carsharing vehicle.

Renault ZOE: the top-selling electric car in Europe

The success of Renault ZOE hasn’t stopped growing over the years. Contrary to the usual sales curve of a traditional car, ZOE has seen its sales increase steadily year after year. The city car owes this growth to its constantly-updated technology housed within a design which continues to win over drivers, without having undergone many changes since its inception. Eight years after the release of the first model, ZOE still exudes an “efficient sensuality”, to quote Raphaël Linari, Designer of the ZOE Z.E. concept car and Agneta Dahlgren, Director of Electric Vehicle Design.

ZOE is the top-selling electric car in Europe over the past decade, with nearly 180,000 units sold by the end of 2019, representing 70% of the total number of electric vehicles on the roads over this period.

The appeal of Renault ZOE is therefore unequivocal: not just in France where, naturally, it held 42% of the market share in 2019, but also in Germany where its 20% market share has enabled ZOE to largely dominate the electric vehicle segment.

Efficiency working to improve driving enjoyment

Renault ZOE has always placed driving enjoyment at the heart of the user experience. The instant responsiveness from the electric motor, as well as the silent and smooth drive, redefine the onboard mobility experience.

Renault ZOE also demonstrates particularly advanced energy efficiency. From the moment it arrived on the market, it showed its innovative nature through features such as a heat pump three times less energy-consuming than traditional heating, low rolling resistance tires and cutting-edge regenerative braking. This is even more true for the third generation of ZOE, with the arrival of a new “B” mode on the electronic “e-shifter” gearshift. This provides intensified deceleration when the accelerator pedal is released in order to optimize energy recovery. The driver barely needs to use the brake pedal in urban environments, which without doubt contributes to the comfort of driving ZOE around cities.

Pioneering technology also contributes to the surprising and exciting driving experience aboard Renault ZOE. From the automatic switch between dipped and main beam headlights to make driving at night easier and the automatic emergency braking to avoid accidents, to the EASY PARK ASSIST system which carries out parking maneuvers on behalf of the driver, these are just a few examples of Renault ZOE’s capabilities.

The evolution of Renault ZOE’s electric motor

On a technical level, the Renault ZOE from 2020 has little in common with the series’ first model. Over the years its power has grown from 65, then 85, to 100 kilowatts on the latest model, in other words the equivalent of 135 horsepower. In parallel, the torque has increased from 220 to 245 newton-meters.

These changes make the driving experience of Renault ZOE even safer and more comfortable, not just by improving acceleration, but also the mid and high speed ranges. New ZOE gains 2.2 seconds on accelerations from 80-120 km/h compared to the previous model. Even better, accelerating from 0-100 km/h now only takes 7.1 seconds, where the previous generation took 13.5 seconds for the same exercise. A spectacular improvement, to say the least! Likewise, the top speed is now a comfortable 140 km/h instead of 135 km/h on previous generations. Offering ever more enjoyable driving experiences is truly a cornerstone of Renault ZOE’s DNA.

Renault ZOE’s battery

But it is not just the motor which has evolved: the battery that powers it has also been improved considerably, more than doubling in capacity! Over the course of three successive generations, Renault ZOE’s battery has gone from 22, to 41, to 52 kilowatt hours, all while retaining similar dimensions. As a result, its interior space and comfort remain unchanged.

The third generation of Renault ZOE, launched in early Fall 2019, now offers a range of 395 kilometers according to the WLTP* standard. This is 25% more than the previous generation. Launched in 2015, the model already provided a range of 240 kilometers – a record for its segment – thanks to the installation of a new motor which allowed for another 30 kilometers more than the generation prior, and which charged 10% faster. These are considerable developments when compared to the first ZOE in 2012, whose range was nevertheless already between 100-150 km depending on driving style!

Today, long journeys are also made easier by the option of using a rapid charge of up to 50 kilowatts in direct current (DC). As a complement to this rapid charge, ZOE retains all the flexibility offered by its alternating current (AC) Cameléon charger, with the ability to charge just as efficiently on a domestic electric outlet as on a fast charging station of up to 22 kilowatts.

An intuitive digital environment

Far more than any other form of motor power, electric motorization is part of a global movement dedicated to mobility. This framework is centered around the user, with technology designed specifically for him/her, using intuitive and genuinely useful connected services to make life easier. Right from its launch, the desire was to make Renault ZOE the figurehead of Groupe Renault’s electric offer by focusing in particular on groundbreaking connected services.

The Renault CONNECT system now brings together a multitude of services to simplify everyday electric mobility, not only onboard but also when outside the vehicle. The multimedia experience continues through the MY Renault smartphone application, which gives remote access to all Renault ZOE information: like, to take just one example, easily preparing a route that takes into account a variety of factors from the comfort of your couch.

Renault ZOE has made the electric car accessible

If Renault ZOE continues to win over buyers, this is also because it’s one of the only electric vehicles that is truly accessible to the general public thanks to its affordable price. Right from ZOE’s launch, Renault has sought to democratize electric mobility. This price-related stance is in no way to the detriment of the car’s quality or technology, to which the multitude of prizes and awards celebrating its innovations from the start can testify. An example: in 2019 Renault ZOE was, for the sixth consecutive year, elected “Best Electric Car For Less Than £30,000” by the reputed British magazine What Car?

ZOE is one of the biggest names in the electric vehicle market and has helped position Renault as a major player in the future of mobility.

In parallel, the experience acquired by the Group over the years has enabled ZOE to evolve alongside its customers and in increasing accordance with their needs. This on-the-ground expertise is also essential for the Renault engineers who, thanks to ZOE’s success, benefit from crucial information that then helps them in the development of all of the Group’s future electric vehicles.


* WLTP range, Worldwide Harmonized Light Vehicles Test Procedures (standardized cycle: 57% urban driving, 25% suburban driving, 18% highway driving).

Copyrights : OHM Frithjof, Frithjof Ohm INCL. Pretzsch, BROSSARD Yannick

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