Renault Zoe long-term test: report 5

Can you switch from a small petrol car to an electric one without changing your lifestyle? We've added our best value small electric car – the Renault Zoe – to our long-term fleet to find out...

Zoe badge opening

The car Renault Zoe R135 ZE 50 Rapid Charge GT Line Run by Louis Shaw, social media manager

Why it’s here To prove that a small electric car can be more than just a city runaround and, in the case of the Zoe, a genuinely viable alternative to a conventional small car.

Needs to Be Practical, comfortable and efficient, with a decent range between charges.

Mileage 857 List price £34,595 (before gov't grant) Target Price £34,595 (before gov't grant) Price as tested £34,655 (before gov't grant) Official range 245 miles Test range 196 miles

17 May 2021 – Changing the charging game

When you’re running an electric car, charging it up is more than half the battle. I personally couldn’t justify owning one if it meant gratuitously sipping a cappuccino in a forecourt or trailing loose cables out of my window at the end of each week. No, the car has to fit my life, not the other way around.

charging Zoe long-term lamppost

So, is there a solution? Well, put it this way, I’ve found the new love of my life – the humble Siemens lamppost charger. It’s simple to use and brilliantly effective, with no memberships, no charge cards, no faff.

I should say up front that the facilities in my area are not fast chargers, so I don’t expect to plug my Renault Zoe in and return in an hour to a full battery. The lamppost charger is what I call an overnight solution or a convenient top-up, and it's an absolute game-changer for anyone who lives in a home without off-street parking (as I do).

charging the zoe c63 in space

I’m lucky that in my London borough we now have a tonne of these lampposts and, generally speaking, I don't have to walk for more than a couple of minutes to find a free one. Combined with the fact that my Zoe has a 200 miles-plus real range, that means I seldom panic when I’m running on electric embers.

There are, however, a couple of downsides. While an abundance of these chargers means there’s plenty to go around, they are not dedicated charging parking bays. That means anyone can leave any car in those spaces and, as you’ll see from the photo above, that includes a Mercedes-AMG C63 – nice to drool over but not something to celebrate when you’re circling the area looking for the blue light that shows a charger is operational.

charging the zoe lampost

Speaking of operational, you’ll have good weeks where there are more blue lights than you can count and times when the area seems to be plagued with broken or faulty chargers and you’ll instead be met with apologies and no blue light at all.

In short, it’s not the perfect solution but then, in my opinion, the only thing close to perfect would be a private driveway with a wall charger. For those of us living in flats with manageable commutes and healthy real-world ranges, they are, as I said, a game-changer.

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