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Europe: Renault Postpones Launch of its ZOE Mass-Market Electric Car

PARIS–Renault SA (RNO.FR) said Wednesday it is postponing the commercial launch of its ZOE, a mass-market plug-in electric city car that Renault hopes will win itself a big slice of the burgeoning market for zero-emission vehicles.

The news is embarrassing for the French car maker, coming on the day that the French government unveiled a package of measures to bolster the automobile industry, including increased financial incentives for buyers of electric and hybrid cars, an area in which French manufacturers have been investing heavily.

A Renault spokeswoman said the decision to push back the launch of the ZOE to 2013 from the last quarter of this year was taken because of software bugs in the car’s R-Link onboard multimedia system. She couldn’t say when the commercial launch is now expected to take place. “We need more time to carry out tests,” she said.

The R-Link system is a new sophisticated connected multimedia system that helps to reduce range anxiety by informing drivers of the amount of power–and thus range–available according to road conditions and driving habits. The R-Link system will also be installed on the latest version of the mass-market Clio IV sub-compact that will be going on sale in October, but the Clio system is less complex than that of the ZOE, the Renault official said.
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