New Motor, Power Electronics for Renault ZOE Electric Car Cuts Home Charging Time, Improves Range

As we first detailed back in December, Renault has been working hard to increase the performance and energy efficiency of the electric motor in its ZOE electric hatchback for some time now, promising better range and more efficient charging capabilities over the first-generation power unit.

The newly-designed motor and inverter is 10 percent lighter, far more energy efficient and enables quicker charge times.

The newly-designed motor and inverter is 10 percent lighter, far more energy efficient and enables quicker charge times.

It would be smaller, lighter, and more capable, Renault had promised, but now we know what the real-world implications of the redesigned power train and power electronics will have on everyday driving: a massive 10 percent quicker to charge from a domestic charging station and capable of an additional 19 miles (30) kilometers of range.

That equates to a new overall range of 149 miles (240 kilometers) per charge, something that Renault says puts its ZOE at the top of its class for energy efficiency. We should note however that those figures, quoted according to NEDC methodology, are likely to be a little over-optimistic and real-world range is likely to be somewhere between 90 and 120 miles per charge, dependent on road conditions and speed.

Renault — which built all of the race cars used for the inaugural Formula E race season — says its time working with Formula E cars has helped it develop a smaller, more efficient motor that is ten percent smaller than its predecessor yet can still output a 65 kilowatts of power and 162 pound feet of torque.

Part of the downsizing was made possible by redesigning the various modules and power electronics from the original ZOE motor, removing some of the gaps between modules, tidying up cabling and switching a lot of the motor cooling from liquid cooling to air cooling. In fact, only the power electronic controller is still water-cooled.

Renault says its time with Formula E helped it to develop the more efficient unit.

Renault says its time with Formula E helped it to develop the more efficient unit.

The motor — codenamed R240 by Renault — is so much smaller that the automaker hints it could be used in smaller, more compact vehicles, making us wonder out loud if we’ll soon see the new motor employed in Renault’s diminutive Twingo City Car.

Improvements in the motor aren’t just limited to its power drive circuitry however. Like the previous generation Renault ZOE power electronics system, the revised system features Renault’s famous Chameleon charger: an on-board charging system which leverages the motor control hardware to facility high-speed recharge at a variety of mains power inputs from a standard single-phase domestic charging station through to a dedicated three-phase AC rapid charging unit.

The previous version of the Chameleon charger could charge the ZOE’s battery pack from empty to full in around 30 minutes using a dedicated three-phase, 43-kilowatt AC rapid charging unit and one hour using a 22-kilowatt, three-phase charging station. But while it could plug-in at any official ‘type 2’ charging station to charge, it couldn’t charge from a standard household outlet. When plugged into a lowly 3 kilowatt domestic charging station, it was particularly inefficient, since the charging system was tuned for higher-power charging stations.

That, concedes Renault, was a mistake, and it has worked hard to improve charging times on a lowly 3 kilowatt charging station, slashing 10 percent off charging times when using 3 kilowatt and 11 kilowatt public charging stations.

ZOE owners can now look forward to up to 147 miles of claimed NEDC range, says Renault.

ZOE owners can now look forward to up to 147 miles of claimed NEDC range, says Renault.

The casualty? 43 kilowatt on-board AC charging, which the newer, smaller unit does not support. It will however, still charge at up to 22 kilowatts, three-phase, where appropriate infrastructure exists. That also means that the Reanult ZOE can no-longer charge in half an hour, making it less suited to inter-city trips than cars fitted with the first-generation charging system.

We’re curious to know what you think of this change. Do you think the increased range will make up for the lack of 43 kilowatt three-phase charging capabilities? Does the more efficient, longer-range ZOE tempt you to buy one? Or would you worry about long-distance travel?

Leave your thoughts in the Comments below.

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  • Ad van der Meer

    Ditching the rapid charging is going to kill this car. I chose this car because its charging flexability. I intend to drive my Zoe for another 3,5 years, but if I had to buy an EV now, the Zoe would be way off the top of the list.nI now understand why they never equipped the Kangoo EV with the Chameleon charger. I wouldn’t be surprised if Nissan will be the only brand in this company to offer EV’s in a few years time.

    • Ezzy

      I have to agree, ditching rapid charging is a terrible idea with an EV range this low. While 240km sounds awesome, ff it was 500km it’d be a different matter. Getting a 2013/14 Zoe myself as fast as I can get rid of my Mini Cooper S 🙂

  • Chris Stanley

    The Leaf can charge at everything from a 50Kw chademo down to a 3-pin domestic socket just fine so why do we have to have this silly trade off with the Zoe? The first-gen had rapid charging at the expense of inefficient domestic charging, now the new-gen loses the rapid charging capability to improve the domestic charging. Just crazy!

    • Grant Thomas

      I have to agree with you Chris. This further kills an already weak offering from Renault.

  • Silly change; we’re happy to be getting the current model! It’s rare we’ll do over the range, but when we do, having to stop for twice as long as service stations will be a pain.nnnnHome charging speed wasn’t really a problem was more people did it overnight, and it’s only 3-4 hours from the 7kw chargers most people are receiving.

  • Landei

    Fine for me. 22kw as a maximum at home and more than 4000 22kw charging stations in Germany, so this is the most succesful “normal TYP2” charging here. ZOE is still the ONLY car on the planet with default 22kw 3-phase AC charging and now with high efficient single phase at low Amps like 8A or 10A. nOf course ist 43kw nice but gives you with the current size of the battery only minor advantages when traveling. When you are on the road, you charge to at least to95-98% and not only to 80%. Compared to other cars which slow down extreme from 80% to 100% charging, even 22kw is as fast as others with stopping at 80% on DC. nJust the reality check. 43kw or 100kw DC will be important again when ZOE2 arrives with 50+ kWh battery.

    • Of course ist 43kw nice but gives you with the current size of the battery only minor advantages when traveling

      Doubling the charging time isn’t really minor! Stopping for 30 minutes every hour was previously a minor inconvenience, stopping for an hour every hour is poor. A “4 hour drive” just went from 6 hours (4×30 min charges) to 8 hours (4x60min charges). That’s pretty significant :(nnThe benefits of this new version seem so minor, that I really don’t understand why Renault have done this; the 30 min charging was one of the “arguments” I had against the EV-naysayers. Renault just made selling the ZOE much harder. I really hope they keep the old option available to buy right up until a new version that supports faster charging (or greater range) is available 🙁

      • Landei

        Please read my post before. I own a 43kw charging speed ZOE and travel with that car. With 43kw a charge is NOT 30 minutes. It is from 0-80% in 30 Minutes. And thats not realistic. From 20 to 98% THIS is a realistic charging time when traveling, and there the differences are not so big. The last 18-20% BOTH models charge at the same speed and they need there 15 minutes. A BMW needs lots more time the last 20%. ZOE is still the best in traveling even with 22kw (because you have tons of stations with double outlets). 43kw is better but not twice as fast in real world travel situations. And dont forget the sound the old charger makes. We dont know how silent the new one is.

        • I understand how the charging works. On a motorway journey, you would likely stop charging when it slows down (which is apparently more like 95% than 80%, but the exact number isn’t really important). Therefore, the charging at 22kw is still half the speed of the 43kw charge.nnnIt *is* twice as fast in real world travel situations; because it doesn’t make sense to continue charging while the battery cells are balancing if you’re doing a long journey and want to minimise time spent charging.

          • Cu00e9dric B

            The autonomy range is already limited, so I would not be eager to stop charging even at 90% before continuing my trip on the highway. nBut even then : n- yes, at 80% it already doesn’t anymore charge at more than 22kW.n- not to mention that when you begin charging with a battery already filled at more than 40%, it will not even begin at 43 kW (a bit surprising, but it works like this) n- with the new motor, you will use about 10% less energy while riding. This is electricity you do not need to recharge! So remove 10% charging time on your 22kW station. Or even more if you compare a charge 22kW to 90% with a charge 43kW to 100%, since you avoid the slowest part of the charge… and you have the same range thanks to the new motor

  • David Lock

    Does this mean that charging the Zoe 2 with a granny lead will also be more efficient,than the Zoe 1.n

    • I believe that’s what they’re claiming:nn

      That, concedes Renault, was a mistake, and it has worked hard to improve charging times on a lowly 3 kilowatt charging station, slashing 10 percent off charging times when using 3 kilowatt and 11 kilowatt public charging stations.

      nnnI think the granny lead might be more like 2kw, but I presume they’re saying it should be 10% faster.

  • Surya

    As said before I wouldn’t want a car with only 22kW charging capability, it’s far less useable for long distances. With a 35 minute charge time to 99%, the current ZOE is very capable of long distance travel. 22kW is simply too slow for that. And I use my EV for international travel.nRenault assured me customers will get the choice between the new and old setup. Get the old one folks!

  • Craig Pugsley

    Dumping the rapid charge is really stupid. My Zoe sits in the garage all night, so it can take as long as it likes to slow charge. What I really need now is more range and to be able to charge quickly when I need to use the longer range. Silly decision, Renault. I would have gone for a second-gen Zoe with more range, but now I think I’ll wait for the 2017 Leaf instead…

  • i own a zoe, never had rapid charging anywhere near me yet, but it still sucks. it means no one will build rapid chargers then, anymore. and thus, the lower speed standard will be the one used everywhere. not a step forward at all.nand at home, i couldn’t care less how fast or slow it charges, anyways. so.. bad news. the 30km more is most likely like 15km more in real life, so that’s not much.nin the end, bad decitions imho. wrong way to go, renault 🙁

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