The Zoe is marketed as a smaller, second car meant for short trips and tooling around town. To that end, most buyers elect to spend €1,000 or so installing the Wallbox, Renault's answer to Tesla's Wall Connector. Options are available from 7.4 kW to 14 kW, the latter of which can get you charged in four to five hours. A full charge consumes around 50-60 kWh, or around 7 to 8 euros' worth of electricity in France.
The next day, my spouse and I elected to do a trip of about 100 miles (150 km) heading to a city known for its white wine, Sancerre (yes, my spirit emoji is a glass of wine). This is a typical trip for rural French people, both for work and pleasure. My wife's hairdresser, for example, travels to clients' homes in an older 22kWh Zoe with half the range, then charges up at night with no stress whatsoever.
The Zoe is a hoot to take on small road trips: It's quick off the line, maneuverable on the twisty French country roads and comfortable. The car handles bumps and corners well, though the electrically-assisted steering lacks in feel. I was able to connect my smartphone via Bluetooth and listen to and control Spotify while navigating using the R-Link system. My only complaint with the latter is that it's laggy.
When we arrived that evening, the car had nearly 50 percent battery life, and an overnight charge-up on domestic power got me to a full battery. The entire Sancerre trip showed just how useful and stress-free the Zoe is for short weekend jaunts and daily commuting.
Back to the city
The next day, I could have made it back to Paris traveling on a two-lane highway, but it would have added an hour to my trip. Instead, I elected to again take the autoroute and charge up for a half-hour.
Renault has found that owners do 90 percent of their charging at home, so it chose not to go for rapid DC charging. All Zoe models use the same battery, but one model supports rapid AC charging up to 43kW, and the others can handle half that. Tesla EVs, by comparison, can take a 145kW DC charge.
"We have pushed for the AC charging because we consider it a strength of our car," said Feunteun. That's because AC chargers are five to six times cheaper than DC models, he points out, so it's easier to persuade supermarkets, service stations and other businesses to install them. That, in turn, makes it easier for consumers to find a charger. It also jibes with the Zoe's mission as a city runabout that can be charged from household AC power.