Living with the Renault Zoe

Living with the Renault Zoe
Living with the Renault Zoe

We’ve been running the new Zoe on our fleet for a while now, and there’s some good news to report. The problem we had with the car’s infotainment not charging smartphones plugged in via the USB port has been resolved.

The system was recognising phones but not supplying them with any ‘juice’. We made a couple of journeys back to Renault to get some software updates, and they’ve done the trick. If you’ve got the same problem with your own Zoe, it should be fixable for no charge at your dealer, assuming that it’s still within warranty.

We had another charging issue with our car, but this time it was the speed (or more accurately the lack of it) with which the Zoe’s main batteries regained their charge when plugged into the mains via a regular three-pin plug. The solution to this one came about in a funny sort of way.

One of the guys in the office was so impressed with our long-term Zoe, he went off and bought one of his own. He’s fixed his poor home-charging situation by getting Chargemaster to fit a ‘wallbox’.

Renault Zoe Q90 Z.E.40 Dynamique Nav Quick Charge

List price: £18,920 (after plug-in car grant)
Price as tested: £19,970
Miles covered: 3157
Official range: 250 miles
Real-world range: 160 miles

What’s the process of upgrading from three-pin charging to a home wallbox? Usually, if you’ve just bought an electric car, you qualify for a £500 Government grant towards the cost of a new wallbox. In the case of Chargemaster, that effectively brings the price of its 3kW charger down to £279, while its 7kW unit becomes £354 and the most powerful 22kW unit £1200. These prices all include fitting, but we should mention that the more advanced three-phase electrics required by the 22kW charger aren’t in place in the onerwhelming majority of residential properties.

On the positive side, Chargemaster has joined forces with Renault to make the 7kW wallbox free when you buy a Zoe, with Renault making up the difference between the Government’s £500 grant and the normal £854 price. So you can have faster charging at no additional cost, which sounds like a good thing.

To qualify for wallboxes, you’ll need off-street parking and modern home electrics. Once the installation documents are signed, the Chargemaster box should be installed inside two weeks. The waterproof and lockable unit has a three-year warranty and is protected against overloads by advanced software.

As they say, other wallbox suppliers are available and other manufacturers are happy to provide free chargers on car purchase. As far as we’re concerned, the numbers add up to another reason – if you needed one – to switch into pure-electric motoring with this brilliant little car.

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