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by Tim Beissmann

Renault has won a bizarre legal battle in France and has been given the green light to use the “Zoe” nameplate for its upcoming zero emissions electric vehicles.

Lawyer David Koubbi sued Renault on behalf of all of the women in France named Zoe, and in particular two girls (aged two and eight) named Zoe Renault.

Mr Koubbi contended that girls and women named Zoe (the 11th most popular given name in France, possessed by an estimated 35,000 French citizens) could face a lifetime of taunts and teasing if Renault was allowed to use the name.

“For my clients, it would be intolerable to hear ‘The Zoe has broken down’ or indeed ‘He or she killed herself in a Zoe’,” Mr Koubbi wrote in a letter to Renault-Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn.

“Can you imagine what little Zoes would have to endure on the playground, and even worse, when they get a little bit older and someone comes up to them in a bar and says, ‘Can I see your airbags?’ or ‘Can I shine your bumper?'” Koubbi told reporters.

The judge threw out the case, ruling that people named Zoe would only have a case if they had proof the car’s name would lead to “certain, direct and current harm”.

A Renault official said the company was “very happy” with the judge’s decision and intended to continue development of the Zoe, which is expected to be released in mid-2012.

The estimated $20,000 zero emissions hatchback (shown at the Paris Auto Show as the ZOE Preview) has been designed with Zoes – as well as other women – in mind.

The car features a 60kW motor with 222Nm of torque, as well as a skin hydrating climate control system, a toxicity sensor to control the cabin air quality and a scent diffuser, which automatically emits scents, to either stimulate or relax drivers based on their needs.




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