Renault ZOE crowned Best Green Car of the 2012 Paris Motor Show
The Paris Auto Show has, for a few years, been a major showcase for electric vehicles. This year, the Renault ZOE won 51% of the vote required to be crowned as ‘Best Green Car of the 2012 Paris Motor Show’. The Renault ZOE is an aerodynamic electric car, with a very low price tag, flexible high powered charging system, and an electric driving range up to 90 miles.
The ZOE was first shown as a concept car at the 2009 Paris Motor Show. It was positioned as an ultra compact urban car, capable of a 90 miles/hr top speed and driving range of up to 100 miles. At that time Renault specified the charging times as 4-8 hour using a "level 2" charging station, or a high speed charging option giving a full recharge in under 30 minutes, or a 3 minute battery swap. Note that Renault is the primary partner of Better Place, who is building out a growing network of battery swapping stations in Israel, Denmark, Amsterdam, and next year in the San Francisco Bay Area.
At the 2012 Paris Motor Show, Renault was able to show more details, as they prepare the car for it's official launch later this year. With the 'Range OptimiZEr' system, Renault says the ZOE is designed to optimize real-world range under all driving conditions. For the driving range in "built-up areas" drivers can expect between 100-150 km (62-93 miles) of driving range. One expects that "built up areas" means city driving, and that driving range in highway conditions would be less.
The Caméléon battery charger is the ZOE's flexible charging system that automatically adjusts the charging rate to match the available power. Charging rate is anywhere between between 30 minutes and nine hours depending on the sort of power available at the charging station. The 9 hour charging time is via a 3 kilowatt normal AC (single-phase 240 volt) outlet, while the 30 minute charge time is available via a 43 kilowatt three phase electrical outlet.
This charge rate, 43 kilowatts, is more than twice the theoretical limit of the J1772 charging cord used available in the U.S., however J1772 charging stations generally top out at 6-7 kilowatts. This makes the ZOE capable of fast charging via a method different from both the CHADEMO and SAE DC Fast Charging system. The advantage of the latter two systems is that the "rectifier" (AC to DC conversion) is located outside the car, but then those charging units are the size of a large refrigerator. Because the ZOE accepts three phase AC power, the AC-DC conversion is done on-board, and the whole unit must be much smaller than the typical CHADEMO station.