With less than six months of our lease to go, it’s time to weigh up our options
You will have noticed that the updates on life owning a Renault Zoe slowed somewhat abruptly quite some time ago. It is not, I’m delighted to report, because of a sudden change of heart, but more down to a busy life into which the Zoe has slotted almost seamlessly.
The result was that after a year of writing about it, there’s been quite a gap where I’ve struggled for anything to report. And, while I’m sure Renault would have been pleased for me to trot out the same superlatives, I’m not sure that would have provided much insight.
Now, though, with six months to run on the lease, perhaps it is time for a recap of just how easily an electric car – now an old generation one at that – has slipped into our lives. Day-to-day, we have never encountered a problem with range, as its prime purpose is school runs and short skips between swimming pools, where my wife teaches. A long day’s travel is 25 miles, and so electric power suits us just fine, as it would many motorists.
Charging has proved easy, but because we have a driveway and have never attempted a long journey, courtesy of a second, engined car, we have never tried a public charging point. Sometimes we top it up, sometimes we brim it – both are easy to do, and the former can be surprisingly effective even in 20-minute bursts.
Financially, it has worked out well, largely because we entered the lease when the incentives were strong. For a deposit of £75 and a further £155 a month for the car and battery rental, plus electricity, we have enjoyed motoring for around the same price as it was costing to run the ageing Ford C-Max that we chopped in, despite the fact we owned it outright. Insurance for the brand new Zoe was around 50% more than for the ten-year-old C-Max, but the Zoe won via tax benefits, fuel costs and servicing costs.
The latter is worth dwelling on for a moment, both because it cost only £80 (in truth, there’s not much to service on an electric car, and beyond a squirt of something to keep the motor happy, nor is there much in the way of consumables to replace) and because our experience at the Renault dealership – SMC in Weybridge – was excellent. That matched an extremely positive experience with Bristol Street Motors in Derby, which supplied the car. Modern ownership surveys suggest Renault’s dealers generally do a very good job – and our experiences back that up.
And so, with just a few months of the lease left to run, the question now is what to do next? In the normal run of things, I suspect we’d do the same again. When you’re so happy with your car, why not?
But the issue is clouded because the new, much improved Zoe also brings with it a considerably higher price tag – one that will likely add £100 a month to the lease cost. At that point, there’s everything from a Mini Clubman to a Mercedes A-Class to perhaps even a Kia Sportage in the crosshairs of the £250 a month being asked – and the consideration that my famously tightly clasped wallet doesn’t want to open much beyond the £155 a month we currently pay.
For now, we will live on in the hope that, when the call finally comes asking us to consider renewing our lease on a newer car, the step up will not be as significant as feared. If it is, though, it will be interesting to find out how we react. Turning away from electric cars as they get better feels counter-intuitive, but the numbers still need to stack up.
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