The Renault ZOE is one of my favorite electric cars on the market. It may not be a sleek Fisker Karma, the world’s best mass-market automobile (Tesla Model S), or even the slightly more affordable but still great BMW i3.
Unfortunately, it’s just available in Europe, but it sees quite good sales there, especially in its home country of France. With what is reported to be a nearly 15% improvement in range thanks to a new motor unit, bringing it up to 149 miles (240 kilometers) of range on the sketchy New European Driving Cycle, I assume sales will be doing even better soon.
The improvement in range, to be more specific, is due to “a new lighter and more compact R240 electric motor and an optimized electronic management system.”
If you really know your motors, here’s some more info: “The R240 is a synchronous electric motor with rotor coil, with a power output of 65 kW and torque of 220 N·m (162 lb-ft).” It seems the “R” in “R240” stands for “Renault,” as “The R240 is an all-Renault motor, designed by Renault engineers at the Technocentre R&D facility outside Paris and at the Cléon plant where the motor is made—close to Flins, where the ZOE is produced….Two main areas of focus in the development were improved electronic management to cut electric energy consumption on the move and the new charging system to reduce charging times at low power levels. When designing the new motor, Renault focused on integrating components which have helped to cut the motor’s size by 10% without sacrificing performance. This opens up new opportunities for the motor to be fitted to smaller cars.” And:
- Modules are no longer stacked, having been replaced by fully integrated modules.
- Smaller modules have been designed and assembled to meet precise requirements (gaps reduced between modules, external power cables removed).
- An air cooling system is now used for the assembly (ducts between modules have been removed). Only the Power Electronic Controller is still water-cooled for its specific requirements.
- The junction box, the power electronics unit and the Chameleon charger are now in a single unit called the Power Electronic Controller. The unit is 25% smaller as a result.
See, all of the improvements in range aren’t just going to come from battery improvements.
Another boost to the ZOE is a new built-in Chameleon charger that will let the ZOE charge faster at home than its initial incarnations could.
Renault has now filed 95 patents related to electric vehicles. As Nissan’s sister company, and also under the arms of EV revolutionary Carlos Ghosn, it’s one of just a handful of car companies that seem serious about developing, building, offering, and marketing electric vehicles and the EV revolution.
Top and motor images by Renault. Bottom three images by me, Zachary Shahan (CC BY-SA 4.0 license).