Source: Unley Renault
Source: Unley Renault

We took delivery of Zoe – a Renault Zoe Intens – electric car on April 15, 2018. At the time, the Zoe was the only battery electric vehicle we could afford that had a claimed range sufficient to get from home in north west Sydney to my daughter’s home 250km away near Orange, without needing to be recharged.

We have done this trip several times since, but we have never actually attempted it without stopping to recharge at either Leura or Katoomba.

But it should be possible – the journey requires about 38kWh from the 41kWh claimed usable capacity of Zoe’s battery – a small but reassuring margin.

What else can I tell you about her? We get the same set of questions from almost everyone who has not had personal experience of an electric car, and the answer to most of these questions is almost always the same – it depends.

  • How far can it go? It depends – fast or slow, country or suburban (260km or 330km), hot or cold weather (the air conditioning consumes 1kW), mainly up hill (home to Orange 16kWh/100km) or mainly downhill (Orange to home 13kWh/100km), the load, and if she is set for ECO mode or not.
  • How long does it take to charge? It depends – how empty the battery is (it has been nearly emptied only once), and how much power the charger supplies (22kW to 2.3kW, 2 to 16 hours). We have charged from several Tesla Destination and EO chargers at 22kW down to 10amp from the GPO on a motel BBQ.
  • How much does it cost to run? It depends – whether the electricity comes from the grid or home solar.
  • How long will it take to save the difference in initial cost? It depends – how much it is used and the source of electricity – but probably about 10 years.
Charging Zoe at 15amps from the home solar and battery system on a partly cloudy day.
Charging Zoe at 15amps from the home solar and battery system on a partly cloudy day. Supplied.

We have travelled just over 15,000km in the year. Zoe consumed 2500kWh, 1400kWh of which came from our home solar system.

Apart from suburban driving and the trips to Orange, these kilometres included attending a wedding at Lovedale returning home via Kandos and Orange, and a journey from home to Orange, thence to the coast near Ulladulla via Canberra, then back home.

These journeys required a bit of planning and a couple of overnight stays in country motels.

Zoe is always a pleasure to drive – smooth, quiet, very adequate if not “insane” acceleration, and she is comfortable on long journeys.

Did I mention quiet?

And there are some things you can’t put a price on, such as the pleasure afforded by driving past all service stations – unless the tyres need a bit more air.

If you are thinking about going electric and are a regular reader of this newsletter, you will be aware that there will soon be a much greater choice of makes and models than we had.

My advice would be to wait until a battery electric vehicle that suits your needs becomes available and affordable, then buy it. You won’t regret the change.

We love our Zoe!

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