Renault's big bet on the Zoe, the small hatchback that will be the volume seller among the company's four-model electric car lineup, could pay off. But in order for it to do so, Renault must prove that it can deliver on its promise that it can offer an affordable and reliable electric car that will save drivers money.
Renault believes it should not be difficult to convince a large segment of European consumers that EVs can make much more sense price-wise and environmentally compared with combustion-engine cars.
The French automaker will market the Zoe as an alternative to the upcoming Clio, which Renault will launch at about the same time as the Zoe in 2012.
The Zoe will retail in France for about 15,000 euros after French government rebates, which will be the same price as the diesel version of the Clio. Comparatively, the Nissan Leaf retails for about 31,000 euros in France after the rebate.
Renault is targeting mainstream buyers, which is reflected in the Zoe's conservative rather than futuristic design. Renault hopes that fuel-cost savings will represent Zoe's main selling point for drivers who desire the same drivability and size that the Clio offers but want to save a lot of money. The Zoe has a range of about 160km on a full charge that costs about 2 euros. It can easily cost five times more in diesel fuel to drive the equivalent distance in a Clio.