The Renault Zoe electric car has been axed in Australia after weak sales and a lack of government incentives.
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One of Australia’s cheapest electric cars – the Renault Zoe – has had its plug pulled after just 63 were sold over the past three years.

Indeed, over the same period, Australians bought two-and-a-half times more Rolls-Royces (158), seven times as many Lamborghinis (457), and 12 times as many Ferraris (818) than Renault Zoe electric cars.

In an online briefing with media, Renault Australia executives blamed absent government incentives for the lack of widespread interest in the Zoe, even though it was already one of the cheapest electric cars on sale, priced from $47,490 plus on-road costs.

Critics of electric-car subsidies say the vehicles should sell on their merits rather than receiving taxpayer support – especially as drivers of such vehicles are perceived as getting a free ride on Australian roads by avoiding fuel excise.

Only a handful of Renault Zoe electric cars remain in Australian showrooms, and once they’re gone they won’t be replaced.

“Electric cars remain a curiosity on Australian roads, with around 5000 sales in the segment last year,” said Charly Clercin, a senior product manager for Renault Australia. “With such limited numbers, it makes it a difficult case to present to head office, especially when they are selling more than 10,000 (electric cars) a month (in Europe).”

Mr Clercin said the decision to axe the Renault Zoe locally was “not taken lightly, and only came after exhaustive analysis here in Australia and in head office”.

The Renault Zoe – which has a modest maximum driving range of 300km – will continue to be sold in Europe, and Renault Australia has left the door open for other electric or plug-in hybrid models in the future.

“We will continue to monitor the market and explore potential additions to the line-up in Australia, including (electric vehicles) and hybrids,” said Mr Clercin.

When asked for more detail on which plug-in hybrid models might be introduced locally, Mr Clercin said: “We’re continuing to monitor that market to review and work with head office and see what’s available, and that’s something we’re definitely interested (in).”

However, he said, “at this stage we can’t really confirm when and which model, but that’s a segment of the market we are looking at”.