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Renault Zoe 2019: double down on French EV

The Zoe only recently went on sale in Australia, but Renault expects EV demand to ramp up.

Renault has projected a rise in demand for electric vehicles (EVs) in Australia, as battery range, design and affordability continue to improve.

If, and when local consumers start leaning towards EVs, Renault's all-electric Zoe will be in a favourable position, according to Renault Australia managing director Andrew Moore.

“We’ve just implemented an EV retail strategy,”  he said.

“We launched last year with fleet only with Zoe with just two dealers. I’ve since put on a dealer in every state, and in the last couple of months we’ve seen volume double.

“We’re still talking small numbers, and I’m under no illusion that it’s going to be huge numbers in the next couple of years, but the product is improving, and once the product improves the price drops. So, I think there can be a big shift towards EVs and I want Renault at the forefront of this technology.”

Mr Moore is confident that when customers realise the benefits of electric vehicle technology, they will soon begin switching from conventionally powered models.

“I’m a huge advocate for EVs,” he explained. “I’ve just gone on the board of the Electric Vehicle Council of Australia, and I think that EVs will be the biggest tech innovation since the smartphone.

“The potential is huge, and what I find frustrating is that we tend to focus on the issues around EV looking at the old technology and not where the technology is going. So, previously the cars had a range of 200km so you’re getting range anxiety; in the future most EVs by 2025 will have a range of 700km – and not many people drive over 700km in a week, so you do one charge overnight and you drive for the rest of the week.

“Now, the battery tech to get that range is moving forward enormously, which means that charging will be quicker, but also with two-way battery charging, you can go to work, charge your cars off solar panels, drive home at night and plug it in and power your house. It’s this sort of opportunity.”

While Renault's local arm has yet to detail which EV models they will be taking on, Mr Moore confirmed that it is keen to consider every product that is in the offing.

“That’s what I’m pushing,” he revealed. “We’re telling (Renault HQ in France) that we’re very interested in EV, and that we want to be considered for every product. We’re seeing a lot happening in the luxury space, but the prices are all over $100,000 so it’s not accessible for most people, but I think in the mainstream space Renault will be at the forefront and I want to be one of the early brands with that.” 

“One of the things we’re doing with the dealer network is that we’re keeping it to specialist dealers in each state so that there is good volume through those dealers, and that the sales people have the technical expertise to support the customer, and in servicing they’re doing regular servicing.

“What we’ve seen with other brands in the past where they’ve made their whole dealer network become EV, charging stations have sat idle and they lose their skill sets. So I’m keeping it to one or two dealers in each state so there’s a constant throughput. It’s all about doing things in a sustainable fashion rather than trying go too hard and it all falls apart.”

The company also expects an uptick in demand for electrified commercial vehicles such as delivery vans.

“Groupe Renault globally has announced in its Drive the Future mid-term plan that the expanding models will include commercial vehicles, so as those models arrive, we’ll push for that.

“We’re selling Kangoo ZE but Zoe is the stronger seller at the minute. The market that’s probably taking on EV at the fastest rate at the moment is the government, council and energy sectors, where they’re adding three, four or five vehicles to their fleet, and it tends to be Zoe rather than courier-type business. But I think that those courier businesses – because they’ve got huge warehouses with solar panels – that will come fairly quickly.

“And I think it will be sooner than people in Australia think. Because, overseas, pollution is such an issue, that governments are pushing manufacturers to develop EV. In Beijing, for example, if you want to buy a car, to get a registration plate, you go into a lottery and you have a one-in-200 chance. If you want to buy an EV, you automatically get registration.”

Have you considered making the switch to the brave new world of electric vehicles? Tell us about it in the comment section below.