Electrobatics, episode 2

renault zoe blueMy job comes with an unhealthy dose of commuting and therefore a company car is part of the deal. So when the lease on my Prius was close to ending, I started the ordering process of a Renault ZOE. I chose the ZOE over the Nissan Leaf mainly for the longer range (210 vs 175 km NEDC). That was about six weeks ago. I never thought ordering a car could cost so much energy. Personal energy, that is. Although it is a renewable source, I also try to save it as much as possible. In other words: I’m lazy.

The first hurdle was my manager. He wasn’t exactly cheering when I told him I wanted a limited range, fully electric car as a replacement for the Prius. I was the first employee to lease a hybrid 8 years ago and now I;m the first again to lease a fully electric vehicle. It required a bit of diplomacy to win hearts and minds and had to reassure everyone I wouldn’t arrive late for work because I was stranded with a flat battery.

Let the ordering begin. The ZOE comes in three models: ‘Life’, ‘Intens’ and ‘Zen’. The ‘Life’ is the base model. The ‘Intens’ and ‘Zen’ have some extras. They are equally priced and the main difference between the two is that the ‘Zen’ has an interior with white accents and an in-dash scent diffuser. The Intens has more shiny black interior plastics and a backup camera instead of the perfume thingy. I don’t care much for perfumes and was worried the white might smudge easily, I chose the ‘Intens’.

The main reasons for choosing the ‘Intens’ over the base model were the handsfree key and parking sensors. Other notable extras are the leather steering wheel, 16″ rims, upgraded sound system, electric rear windows and automatic lights/windscreen wipers. 17″ rims are an option, but they come with a penalty. The special ultra low rolling resistance Michelin EV tires are not available in that size and so the range would be lower. That wasn’t a tough choice since I don’t care much for big rims anyway. A center armrest is a dealer option, and I ordered that too. It came as a big disappointment to me that the ZOE does not have a height adjustable driver’s seat nor 60/40 folding rear seat. Bummer. I consider these to be basic stuff in 2013, but Renault probably was looking really hard to shave a few kilos here and a few euros there.

The total bill was € 24,289 *)

Base price € 20,990
‘Intens’ model € 2,000
Metallic paint € 495
Center arm rest € 225
TomTom HD traffic subscription € 169
Delivery € 950

Next was dealing with the leasing companies that hardly have any experience with electric cars. As an extra novelty, the Renault ZOE comes with a battery lease. After lots of to-and-fro they produced a contract.

But the most unexpected part came when preparing for the installation of the wall charger. The ZOE can not be charged on an ordinary wall socket, installation of a special wall charger is therefore mandatory. Renault had until recently partnered with Essent (a large Dutch energy company) for the installation of these wall chargers, but switched to The Plugin Company. This came with a considerable price increase and for some reason the dealer apparently had offered the old prices. Total costs would more than double! I am of the opinion that when you make an offer you should stick to it, but the dealer of course wasn’t too keen on that and plainly put the ball in The Plugin Company’s court, which, I must say, handled it with elegance. How Renault Netherlands, The Plugin Company and the dealer managed to resolve it, I don’t know, but the compromise was that I would get the wall charger for the offered price, but would accept an increase in installation costs. Apparently, Essent had a uniform price for single and three phase installations, where The Plugin Company charges considerably more for three phase. Of course I want three phase, so I can charge a fully depleted battery in only two hours. Expect to pay around € 2500 for a three phase wall charger plus installation.

*) all prices including VAT.

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