Renault's all-electric city car, the Renault Zoe, has been relaunched at the Paris motor show with double its range, thanks to a newly developed 'ZE.40' battery.
The new unit has added 200km to the Zoe's range, meaning it now has a total range of 400km. But don't expect it to hit Australian roads any time soon.
Renault is claiming a realistic daily city driving range of 300km for what is the best-selling electric vehicle in Europe.
Renault CEO Carlos Ghosn said at the Paris motor show that by doubling the driving range of the Zoe, it would become the first truly practical electric vehicle on the market.
"We are trailblazers in the fast growing electric vehicle market," Ghosn said. "By doubling its range, we have removed the last psychological barrier to electric vehicles. Now, you only have to charge it once a week if used in daily driving conditions."
According to Renault, the new ZE.40 battery now boasts 41kWh of "useful energy", nearly double the original's 22kWh at launch.
The Zoe also uses Renault's R-LINK navigation system to alert drivers to the nearest of any of the 80,000-plus charging point in most of the major countries of Europe. The company also claims that charging is reasonably quick, with just 30 minutes needed to add an additional 80km of range to the vehicle.
While not ruling it out for Australia entirely, Renault's key figures in the Asia-Pacific region were coy on whether Zoe would ever make it Down Under.
"Zoe can go globally to any country which wants it," said Renault's chairman for Asia-Pacific Gilles Normand. "For Australia, it's different because of the size of the country, because of very large cities, people are still a little bit questioning whether they want to go EV or not. Of course, if there was a market or there was some interest, it's possible to happen."
Renault's Australian boss, managing director Justin Hocevar agreed, stating the Australian market was perhaps, lacking a little maturity around electric vehicles.
"One of the core things, is the maturity around the broader market's acceptance around full electric vehicles and their understanding, or perceived understanding, of some of the limitations is what's holding EV as a category back in Australia," said Hocevar.
"This is why it's very important that with some appropriate incentives in place to kick-start the category, closing that value gap that exists at the moment, will allow the category to flourish. If people can understand it and realise they can live with electric vehicles... it may not necessarily be the car you pack up to go to Bourke with for the Birdsville races or whatever it might be. There are plenty of other vehicles for that sort of travel.
"But, as a second car in the drive or a fleet to get an overall fleet's emissions down, it's a very important vehicle to consider. But, quite simply, in Australia at the moment we do not have the incentives that many other countries around the world have to help instigate this category."
The Zoe accounts for 10 per cent of Renault's sales in the competitive city car segment and is the best-selling electric vehicle in Europe
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