There are some great benefits still to be found, even after the BIK changes.

Renault ZOE to Lose 43 kW Rapid Charging in Preference for Improved Home Charging

When it comes to electric cars, French automaker Renault — and its alliance partner Nissan — are among two of the most determined to see a plug-in car in every driveway with more than 200,000 electric vehicles sold worldwide. As such, we’ve seen both companies work hard over the past few years to tweak their respective lineup of electric vehicles to make them more affordable, more practical and more cost-effective for both manufacturer and owner.

The Renault ZOE is about to get a new motor for the 2015 model year.

The Renault ZOE is about to get a new motor for the 2015 model year.

So far, those modifications have included a new battery pack chemistry and more efficient drivetrain and heating system for the Nissan LEAF, as well as the recent announcement from Renault that it would finally make its ZOE and Kangoo Z.E. electric vehicles available to buy with a battery pack included.

Now we’ve learned that Renault is poised to improve its popular ZOE electric hatchback for the 2015 model year with an improved battery pack as well as an all-new motor and power inverter which will help increase overall range by as much as 30 kilometres (18 miles) over the current model year ZOE.

What’s more, we can expect to see the new motor debut at next year’s 2015 Geneva Motor Show.

More efficient

We first heard the news via Comité des Constructeurs Français d’Automobiles, which claims that the all-new motor and power electronics system will offer the same 65 kilowatt power output as the current ZOE, but at a much higher efficiency.

Unlike the current motor and Chameleon charging and inverter system, which is made by Continental for Renault, the new motor and power electronics will be made by Renault in Cléon, France. Once implemented into the 2015 ZOE, the engine will also find its way into Renault’s Kangoo Z.E. commercial vehicle, replacing its existing previous-generation motor. And since the motor is around 10 percent more compact, there’s even chance it could find itself into a smaller, future, all-electric model.

When we drove the Renault ZOE back in 2013, we discovered the on-board Chameleon charger wasn't suited to home charging

When we drove the Renault ZOE back in 2013, we discovered the on-board Chameleon charger wasn’t suited to home charging

Improved home charging — at the Cost of 43 kW capabilities

Like the current Renault ZOE, the new ZOE motor will use the car’s built-in inverter — used to provide the correct amount of power to the three-phase AC motor used to drive the car along — to double-up as the on-board charger.

When it first launched, this meant that the original ZOE could charge from any power source from 3 kilowatts single phase to 22 kilowatts three phase using the supplied type-two cable that came with the car. For higher-powered, higher-speed charging, the ZOE could charge at up to 43 kilowatts AC three-phase from a dedicated, tethered AC quick charging station.

This meant that it was possible to charge a ZOE from empty to full in under 40 minutes from a suitable charging station, or just an hour from a 22 kilowatt three-phase charging station. But because the original ZOE was designed with an emphasis on higher rather than lower-power charging, it meant that the on-board electronics were inefficient and slow at charging the car at from a lowly 3 kilowatt domestic charging station.

The result? ZOE owners complained about long charge times, inefficient charge cycles, and reduced usability.

The change in inverter and motor will make the new 2015 ZOE slightly more efficient.

The change in inverter and motor will make the new 2015 ZOE slightly more efficient.

The new ZOE motor and power electronics have been designed to make lower-speed charging more efficient and convenient, but as a consequence have dropped support for 43 kilowatt three-phase rapid charging.

This means that the new ZOE — and thus the new Kango Z.E. — will be able to charge at best from empty to full in one hour. Compared to the previous ZOE motor, this is a doubling of recharging time from a rapid charge station, which may put some buyers off the car. For commercial fleet operators looking to buy an electric van, it means a dramatic improvement over the underpowered 3 kW-only charge mode of the current Kangoo Z.E., and may win Renault some commercial sales from its alliance partner Nissan.

Although there’s a net reduction in charging speed for those who pick the new, more efficient, longer-range ZOE drivetrain, Renault notes that the majority of owners charge at speeds between 3 and 11 kilowatts on a daily basis: rapid charging at 43 kilowatts represents a tiny proportion of daily ZOE use.

New and Old

After hearing the rumor, we contacted Renault for further comment and have been told by an Renault spokesperson that the new motor and power inverter system will be unveiled at next year’s Geneva Motor Show.

The change in motor and inverter design will give the Renault Kangoo Z.E. rapid charging capabilities for the first time.

The change in motor and inverter design will give the Renault Kangoo Z.E. rapid charging capabilities for the first time.

In addition, our contact confirmed that 43 kilowatt AC rapid charging capability will be absent from the new motor and therefore the quickest charging speed of any ZOE or Kangoo Z.E. fitted with the new motor will be 22 kilowatts. Under most circumstances, this should result in a 0-80 percent charge in about an hour from a suitable three-phase, 22 kW charging station.

What’s interesting however, is the news that Renault plans to still offer the older motor to customers who want it, at least initially, offering new and old together. This means customers can choose from improved range and efficiency at the detriment of slower rapid charging, or stay with the older, more inefficient motor and battery pack in preference for 43 kW rapid charge capabilities.

At the moment, there’s no news what the price difference between new and old drivetrains will be, but as always, we’ll bring you more when we have it.

[Hat-Tip: Ad Van Der Meer]


Want to keep up with the latest news in evolving transport? Don’t forget to follow Transport Evolved on Twitter, like us on Facebook and G+, and subscribe to our YouTube channel.


Want to keep up with the latest news in evolving transport? Don’t forget to follow Transport Evolved on Twitter, like us on Facebook and G+, and subscribe to our YouTube channel.

You can also support us directly as a monthly supporting member by visiting

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Share on LinkedInDigg thisShare on RedditEmail this to someonePin on Pinterest

Related News

  • Matt Beard

    RIP Zoe – this has killed the car really. It means that in effect Renault now have a “local only” EV which cannot be rapid charged. Just like the Fluence – and look how well that sold.nnnI guess the good news is that there is now no point at all adding a Type-2 tethered cable to a rapid charger, so all new models should be CHAdeMO + CCS dual-chargers.

    • Ad van der Meer

      The AC fast charge option is the cheap part of a rapid charger.

      • Matt Beard

        Indeed it is cheaper than the DC parts by a long way, but not free and the AC part is no longer “rapid” so it does not belong in the same charger. It should either be a separate post nearby, or not included at all. I would prefer a separate socket nearby so there is backup for all EVs when the rapid (inevitably) breaks down.

        • Ad van der Meer

          I agree that if the Zoe loses its RC capability a case could be made to ditch the AC option, but the fact that it’s there doesn’t bother DC RC cars. At least the ABB and Efefac chargers can handle one AC and one DC charging car without reducing power to either one.nFrom the discussion on Twitter it appears DBT chargers tend to break down after an RC attempt by a Renault Zoe. I can understand that Leaf drivers resent Zoe’s making a RC, but I strongly believe that this is a DBT problem. We had our share of RC problems in the Netherlands until the DBT chargers were ditched and replaced by the ABB and Efefac RC’s.

    • Surya

      How is that good news for current owners of a ZOE?

  • Ad van der Meer

    As a Renault Zoe owner now, my next EV will NOT be the Renault Zoe without fast charging capability. nLooks like I’ll be saving to buy a Tesla Model III.

    • Surya

      Still to big. I’ll save for a Tesla when they make a ZOE size car. I don’t want a bigger car. In fact, I’d prefer slightly smaller (3 door hatch)

      • Ezzy

        Model 3 will be their “small car”, it’ll be shorter than a VW Golf.

        • Surya

          Where do you get that info from? All information I heard so far is that the Model 3 will be a sedan, more or less 20% smaller than the Model S, so no where near as compact as a Golf.nnThe Model C might be of Golf size or smaller. I surely hope so. Give me a sporty, practical 3 door hatch back 🙂

          • Ezzy

            Tesla Model S’ length, 4,976mm (195.9in), alone – 20%, is LESS than a Golf at about 3,981mm, current mk7 Golf is 4,255mm (167.5in). Zoe is pretty much identical to Model E’s length. I’m at work atm so CBA to calculate other dimensions. nGolf is tiny only in the US, where every other car is an F150 truck. Makes me laugh how huge a new Golf is next to my R53 Mini Cooper S at 3,630mm (143.1in).

          • Jens Kr. Kirkebu00f8

            20% less in area I assume, not in length. Model S is about 10m2, so 8m2 for the Model 3. 1,8m wide and 4,4m long is my guess.

          • Ezzy

            Also, Musk said that Model E won’t be anything like current cars on the road, whatever that means. I’m pretty sure it’ll look quite outlandish, like Google’s self-driving car prototype does.

          • Jens Kr. Kirkebu00f8

            The Model 3 will surely be a hatchback, just like the Model S. Not a sedan (on a sedan the rear window is fixed, on the Model S it opens with the hatch).nn20% smaller means approx. the size of a BMW 3-series. Definately bigger than a Golf.

          • Surya

            OK, but by hatchback I mean something like a Golf, not a sedan with a hatch like the Model S 🙂

          • Jens Kr. Kirkebu00f8

            If we go into sub.categories the Model S would actually be a liftback 🙂

          • Surya

            That’s what I thought, but I don’t know enough about cars to make such statements 🙂

  • Surya

    This is a huge mistake. Yes, 43kW charging doesn’t happen often, but when it does happen, you never want it to go slower.nIf I make a long road trip, doubling the charging time would not make me happy at all. In fact, I wouldn’t buy a ZOE again without at least 43kW charging capabilities.nAnd I should also add that I have no complaints about charging my car at home from my 7kW outlet. Works just fine!

    • Andy Mitchell

      I agree, I’ve never had any issues with charging at home. As long as it charges from empty to full whilst I’m asleep, there’s no reason to complain! I’ve never used 43kW but, again, that’s because there aren’t (m)any here in north Scotland. I’m looking forward to when there are more so I can take my ZOE south. As ever, the problem is deciding where EVs ‘fit’ for customers. If I see another car report saying ‘they are fine for short trips around town’ I’ll throw something!

  • Martin M Thomsen

    Yes 43kW has not been used very often, but that is because there has not been very many 43kW chargers. We have not had any in Denmark until a few month ago. Charging the ZOE at 43kW is amazing and then 22kW looks very slow! For fleets 22kW is very nice because it is cheap to install. KIA Soul EV can charge at 100kW so Renault is going the wrong way and will soon be out of the EV marked if this will be real.

  • Claudio Amadori

    The main disadvantage of present 43 kW version is low efficiency of the on board battery charger, mainly if used at 10-13 A (common at home in several countries), that causes excessive energy dissipation and too long charging time. ZOE uses more energy than Leaf. Charging stations at 43 kW are not common and not used very often (some months ago Renault said not to support any more new 43 kW charging stations), while 22 kW charging stations are relatively common. The second disadvantage of present charger is the dimension, so big that cannot be installed in Kangoo.

    • sisira

      in Sri Lanka we use 5A – 15A at home. i hope to buy a Zoe and have paid some in advance. we have no Rapid charges still in Sri Lanka. tell me how long will it take to charge the car fully from zero please..

  • Martin Winlow

    What on Earth are Renault doing? Why don’t they just add CCS DC charging? All it is is some pretty basic CAN-based electronics, one or two chunky contactors and a suitable charge port. 500 euros to a mass-producer like Renault. Or at least offer it as an option! Utterly bewildered of Herts, UK.

  • Neb

    I have no car at the moment, but have decided on electric for my next one. Tossing up between the Zoe and the E-up – and no fast charging is a deal breaker. As it’ll be my *only* car, it will be used for longer journeys as well as commuting and I’m not waiting round for an hour at every charging point. Sorry, Renault – just ain’t gonna happen. selling any new electric car without fast charging is just stupiding yourself to death.

Content Copyright (c) 2016 Transport Evolved LLC