Replacing our vehicles to pure electric takes time

At the moment I am in the process of making sure Julia and I are both in sustainable transport. It has been proving more difficult than it first seemed. The idea is simple enough. Change from the now old technology of an ICE engine and have two battery powered EV cars. Don’t get me wrong, it is happening but there have been unexpected stumbling blocks on the way.

If you have read previous blog entries then it will be no surprise I chose the Renault Zoe as my first EV. The experience, although it became intimately known by Renault UK, secured the fact I will never have another fossil fuel tractor again. The design of the Zoe means it is very different to ICE cars. You get more technology in an EV. I compare it to a mobile phone. There are numerous sensors that manage everything from the regeneration to each of the 40 odd battery compartment temperatures. In fact I did buy my own diagnostics tool to help understand some of the problems and actions associated with this model of EV.

The drive is superb as it is like all EVs, being smooth and effortless. It is also the first Renault I have owned. I do not have an issue with the build quality like the stereotype of Renaults. I do have a huge amount of respect for the brand as they were the first main manufacturer, like Nissan, to seriously start producing EVs. Actually, they were 100% committed from day one. Creating vans in their range and selling them in large numbers to government and large business. Tesla started the ball rolling but are a pure EV manufacturer where Renault and Nissan stuck their necks out for a head start.

Firstly, before I give issues, I have to say it simply has not put me off as I have ordered another. It is just that the demand is so high that the delivery date has been pushed to 4 months. This new one was ordered back in around October 2017 and was due around now. Now it is not due until March 2018. Even that does not put me off. I know that Renault have large orders from the French post and other institutions that they are fulfilling so I am not too bothered in that respect. I love the BMW i3 (as you can see from my review blog entry) but it is not the sort of car to be ordered in large quantities due to its very nature. That is what makes the Renault Zoe a real world EV. It is affordable, in the EV world, and is available in different purchase choices. A good example is that the model I have at the moment has a battery lease. This is due to insuring if there is degradation of the battery or the driver runs out of charge then Renault comes to the rescue. It was also the first car I bought on a PCP as I did not know how it would be with an EV. Now I am convinced then Julia is buying mine totally (this is the plan) and I have bought a longer range version including the battery as a cash purchase. This is a pure example of how I love the nature of the EV, as well as the main aspect of sustainability.

So what of the issues? Well this Zoe has been into the Z.E. garage a number of times. Why? Well it originally had a telematics fault. The car is connected to an app where it’s interactivity let’s the owner pre heat, start charges, monitor charges and other sim based technology. When I got the car, the interactive element hardly worked. The Tom Tom maps didn’t update too. When it went to the Z.E. centre it was in for weeks while the new telematics was ordered and installed. I have found out since that Renault have to approve all EV new issues and learn as time goes on. Meanwhile mine was given back. Problem solved but dashboard scratched and a rolling noise coming from the dash somewhere. Now it took ages to get to the bottom of this noise. At first the original centre told me they could not hear it and so I took it elsewhere. The photograph below was produced showing a bolt in the heater element. They could not do any work (would mean the whole dash off) which could cost over a grand. All through, including the original fault, Renault UK customer services was great. They gave petrol refunds, liaised with the garages and gave compensation. I can’t fault them.

The photograph shows the problem bolt. Small but in a silent car, very annoying. These photographs were given to the original garage and luckily a new service manager was there. This is where the story got better. The whole dashboard assembly, the whole front, was replaced and the bolt removed. In fact my trust was restored as I met a brilliant EV master technician. A talented guy who is Renault through and through. He is also incredibly interested in the EV side. He is another reason I have bought another. He has spent quite a while talking about the car and the dashboard replacement was perfect. At the moment there is some slight front suspension rumbling but I have faith he will get to the bottom of it so I have no worry with the car. There have been other problems. It has a heat pump instead of using inefficient heat and primitive heat from an ICE engine. Recently it seems there is an issue where the software gets confused with pre heating on cold days and the sensors can sent incorrect temperatures. Renault France are working on a fix (well known problem) but in the interim I heat the outer sensor up and it solves the problem. The diagnostic tool I have shows conflicting temperatures so the problem is obvious to see.

Another one that reared it’s head was battery management. It was taking ages to get from 99% charge to 100%. The milage estimation was totally out. Looking at forums showed it needed a BMS (Battery Management Software) update. Again, on speaking with the talented EV tech proved he knew what to do. It came back like a new car.

Because I am buying another EV then between the manufacturer and the OLEV government grant I was entitled to another charger. Well, I already had one but decided I wanted a tethered one too. In other words, one with a built in cable and plug. This is so I don’t have to take the car one out all the time, especially when there will be two cars. This caused an issue in itself. The charging company, Chargemaster/Polar, were brilliant as always. It was the fact the house incoming amp age had to be increased with a larger capacity fuse. I needed the neighbours permission for Northern Powergrid to do the work as it is a looped supply. No matter how many times they tried to contact her, and myself knocking to catch her in, did not help. In the end they were brilliant and did the work live. This means another charge station was installed ready. Now it is just the new car and then it’s free of those terrible emissions that kill both people and the world.

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