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Renault and Others Debut Electric Cars at Paris Show

Despite a few automakers backing away from electric cars, they are alive and well at the Paris auto show.

At the Paris Auto show, auto giant Renault extended its already strong commitment to electric vehicles yesterday by launching sales of a small electric car with a price and range that could offer mass appeal. Major German automakers Volkswagen, BMW, and Daimler joined Renault’s commitment to electric cars at the show by launching or announcing some of their first battery-only EVs. The show opens to the public today and runs for two weeks.

The Renault Zoe costs less than most electric vehicles at 20,700 euros ($26,650), or 13,700 Euros in France, thanks to government incentives. And it travels 210 kilometers (130 miles), according to the standard European mileage test. Simon Luque, Zoe project director for Renault, promises that this will translate into 150 kilometers of real-world driving. “That is the best in the market today,” boasts Luque.

Toyota, in contrast, recently reiterated its skepticism on the viability of EVs, given the cost and limits of battery technology (see “Will Electric Vehicles Finally Succeed?”). The Japanese automaker, the world leader in hybrid vehicles, launched the eQ, a much-anticipated battery version of its iQ minicar yesterday, but said it would produce just 100 of these 85-kilometer range vehicles.

Luque says Renault decided that the capacity of the Zoe’s battery would be 22 kilowatt-hours based on how much space it could make for it in a small car. He adds that three advances in efficiency enabled its engineers to extend real-world range by 20 to 30 kilometers.

First, Zoe carries the first automotive heat-pump heat and air-conditioning system, capturing heat outside and pumping it into the car rather than simply heating a resistor, as other electric vehicles do. This means that the Zoe can deliver three kilowatts of heat while drawing just one kilowatt from the battery.


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