My Upcoming EV Predicament – Renault Zoe Owner

I currently have a Renault Zoe with the original 22kwh battery pack which I can get around 100 miles out of in summer. I love my car, but at the end of my PCP deal which runs 2 years from October 2016-18, I have a predicament.

Renault have said that my car is worthless and that I can’t trade it in using the guaranteed future value. I had bet on this trade-in because I knew the Zoe Z.E. 40 would be more expensive than what I paid before, and even then I was stretching my finances due to wanting an EV so much.

There are other issues too. When I got my current Zoe, the PCP options were either 2 or 4 years. There was no way I was going to do 4 years. 2 was ideal. This time, 3 years is the only option. The Renault Zoe is a fantastic car, but it is undeniably old at this point. It hasn’t really been updated significantly other than the battery size since 2013. If I was to sign up until 2021, I would be paying through the nose for a car still with only 22kw charging ability. And let’s not forget Apple CarPlay. I know it might seem trivial, but it matters.

Two things in the EV world that are widely known are that battery costs are coming down massively every year, and that type 2 AC rapid charging is not a standard for the future. By 2021 I would be paying so much more than the going rate for batteries. It would be Hinckley Point-esque financially. Not only that but I wouldn’t be benefiting from the rapidly expanding charging network. Even if 43kw rapid AC continues to be expanded, which it may do because of it being included on some rapid charging units, then I would still be stuck charging at 22kw. This isn’t the worst thing in the world, and I have done long road trips with this speed. But in 2021, I doubt I would still be enthusiastic about the prospect of using that.

The problems don’t stop there. I’m a car fan, and while admittedly, this may not be the most convincing reason I’ve given for my decision, I like switching things up. After 2 years driving the Zoe, I’m sure that I’m going to be ready for the next chapter in my driving life. But once I hand the car back, what next?

There seems to be a dearth of small, affordable EVs coming in 2018, which is truly depressing. My best hope at the moment is one or two new small EV hatchbacks being announced at Geneva in March and perhaps being released early 2019. That would mean around 6 months without a car.

It wouldn’t be the end of the world. I can cycle to work, I could take taxis or the bus. I could even use an app like Turo to hire someone else’s car. With me currently working part time, it’s a definite possibility and all of those options should cost me less than my current monthly car payment.

However, I don’t want to drive an ICE car, and these options are all limited in that regard. In this area, we can’t get Uber and our local taxi company still requires cash, which I generally no longer carry. They also are behind the times in terms of propulsion as I mentioned. They use diesel saloons, and that fuel bill must cut massively into their profit margin. Hopefully they’ll realise how much they could be saving and buy some next gen Leafs in the next 9 or so months.

Buses are diesel, noisy, vibrate incessantly and are always late, so perhaps a no go there. Turo and other more traditional car rental services are also EV challenged at present. Enterprise, Hertz etc should realise the cost benefits sooner rather than later, and Turo can only get better as more people buy EVs and realise how great they are for sharing. The traditional rental places are so far behind the times that it’s still difficult to get a small automatic car from them. And that would be another issue for me. I chose to take an automatic only test in order to save time and money on driving lessons.

The only option that is guaranteed to work and be ICE vehicle free is cycling. But that doesn’t mean it’ll be pleasant. Worthing isn’t a cycling town, and the road network is woefully inadequate to support large numbers of riders. We have narrow roads, wider and wider SUVs by the day, and parked cars clogging up both sides of many streets. Then there’s the weather. I have ridden a scooter to work previously, and although it is perfectly doable, it’s not always the most fun in the cold, wet and dark conditions you often encounter. Cycling may actually be better as you at least don’t have a visor that can fog up to the point where you’re practically guessing where that traffic island is. And you’re also not going as fast, so less of that biting wind chill.

So what’s the point of this post? Well, mainly to vent my frustration at the lack of choice and affordability in EVs by this point in time. But also to show that there are other options that can work well, especially for people who have no inherent love of driving and vehicles, as I do. (Although I do accept and welcome our autonomous driving future).

Even though I’m making this decision which will be a bit painful in the short term, I know that it’s the right one to make. We’re in that odd empty period before the EV market really explodes, and in my situation, I’m just unlucky to be stuck in the middle of it.