I’m dabbling in for some years by now when I decided to go full electric in 2016. My reasons didn’t change much and it’s time for reflecting on the topic.

The beginning was rough for various reasons. Our local car dealer f*cked up so we shred the initial offer. When we looked around for another dealer we got a recommendation 50km away from home. This one knew his trade, the car and enough of this brand new internet tech to send us a new contract within the hour. Impressed by this we finally ordered our ZE40 .

Fun didn’t last long tho. We were simply unlucky with the AC/DC converter. It was busted within days and we didn’t see the shiny new car for another ~three weeks.

That was kinda disappointing and I worried for several weeks whether this was really a good decision. There was however no further trouble after this incident for years. I started to get to know the car better due to my daily commuting, experienced various recharging challenges, poked around on the car’s CAN bus, installed a charger at home and… bought another .

This time a used ZE model from 2014 with the smaller battery. It was meant to replace our T3 van, that did see daily action until that for shopping, local errands and family taxi. Today it’s mostly used by my wife and parents-in-law leaving their old ICE car to rust as well. This unplanned acquisition was a direct result of our experiences with the ZE40.

It’s like a virus and spreads. Once you try there is no going back. are plain fun, elegant quiet and there is this tingling sensation of experiencing the future early. I tinkered a lot on my combustion cars, especially the vans, in my life. And I don’t miss a thing. Whenever I’m back in an traditional ICE car it feels like yesterday. It’s noisy, everything shakes and rattles and it smells of fumes.

It’s a great bonus that there are no fumes emitted at the eye height of my children.

Beko Pharm

This isn’t even about environment considerations. It’s a great bonus that there are no fumes emitted at the eye height of my children, of course. I won’t go into the regulars’ table talk about the negative aspects of . They apply to any mobility and “alternate facts” on this topic are debunked on various scientific essays on the net. We all know that cars are and will never be “good” for the environment. We’re countryside. This is as good as it gets.

So yeah, as I mentioned we’re in the countryside. Black Forest to be specific. We get snow here. And this is another plus for the . While the old 2014 edition has apparently ~5° less heating capabilities Renault really did their homework starting with the next editions. The older one could really need a seat heater while the new one has enough power that this is no issue. Both don’t need ice scraping though. Pre-heating (or pre-cooling in the summertime) is key here. This can be done by timer, remote, or, if you feel really lucky, by app. This is luxury!

The had to prove itself as transporter as well. It is simply amazing what can be loaded into this small car. It’s an underestimated space miracle. Especially when the backseats are removed (or at least folded down). I wasn’t sure I could fit everything inside on my first trip to Ikea. So I had to go inside twice to get the rest from the list 😀

Needless to say that excursions are also absolutely no problem. My website is proof of this since various articles and galleries here are the result of trips we used the for. Winter, summer, weather, distance, whatever. Chargers or outlets are everywhere, and in most cases we stopped because of the kids needing a break or when we arrived at our destination, and not because the car needed a recharge. So while we ate, or checked out cool locations, the car recharged having nothing better to do at such times anyway. We never stranded and while we carefully watched the available miles and capacity in the beginning we basically stopped caring about this at all. We know it’s always enough [for us].

Battery lifetime. It’s a gamble. I know the datasheets, the promises, the waranty. As a programmer and tinkerer I poke at such things. So here is today’s values for the SoH (State of Health) for our batteries:

  • ZE 22 kWh (rented) 39.086 km 97% SoH
  • ZE40 41 kWh (bought) 31.392 km 97% SoH

That is within the expected degrading curves and I’m not worrying too much about this. Just checking it regulary with the CanZE app in the hope to find broken cells early. Usually it’s bad luck if this happens at all. Otherwhise the batteries are doing a decent job here and it’ll probably be years before my 41 kWh battery will see it’s second life as buffer storage. Especially since I didn’t drive nearly as much as anticipated. My work situation changed and I got a lot of home office reducing the need to commute greatly.

So yeah, after several years and plenty of commuted miles to the office, customers, excursions and trips I’d never go back to an ICE. This was the right decision and even cheaper in the long run compared to any of my old cars. The ZOEs are up for any daily challenge for a family of four and even some occasional car sharing.

And yet – sometimes I’m reminded that this is “just” a french car. Seals of the cooling system e.g. suck (and this coolant is freaking expensive). The software, connectivity services (app) and especially the shipped TomTom is/are awful. That includes the scheduled ripoff for programming the RDKS each time. The headlights are really bad and from all EVs I tried over the last years the ZOE has the worst speedup, antenna, power usage and fewest assistants. Cruise control is decent tho. There are better cars. Better EVs. Mayhap even the new ZE50 out now.