Renault has officially launched the ZOE electric car at Geneva. To go on sale later this year, the ZOE was designed as a pure-electric car from the ground up, and to be affordable, to Europeans at least.

In line with Renault’s “electric mobility for all” theme, the ZOE is priced close to that of a diesel-engined city car in markets where tax incentives are available. As discussed in our i-MiEV test drive report, government incentives are vital to make expensive EVs more reachable by the masses.

In France, the ZOE starts from €15,700 (after tax incentive of €5,000) and in the UK, where a subsidy of £4,333 is available, tax-paid prices start from £13,650.

That’s for the car. The cost of leasing the battery starts from €79/month (price for a 36-month contract and a distance travelled of 12,500 km/year), inclusive of comprehensive breakdown assistance, which covers flat batteries.

Apparently, more than 60 patents have been filed for ZOE’s design. Renault has developed the ‘Range OptimiZEr’ that combines three major innovations (new-generation regenerative braking, a heat pump and Michelin Energy E-V tyres).

This combo gives the ZOE a range of 210 km, the highest among production mass market EVs. In real world conditions such as in suburban use, owners will generally achieve around 100 km in cold weather and 150 km in temperate conditions.

The heat pump provides good thermal comfort without affecting the vehicle’s range. It operates in the same way as reverse-cycle air-conditioning, and consumes very little electricity – approximately 2 kW of cooling or 3 kW of heat with just 1 kW of electricity. The cabin temperature is not affected by the heat from the motor.

The Michelin Energy E-V tyre is making its world premiere, too. Developed through a four-year research and innovation program conducted jointly by Renault and Michelin, the tyre’s rubber compound, tread design and sidewalls have been engineered to withstand ZOE’s high torque and address the specific demands of EVs. Available in 15- and 16-inch versions, this tyre is fitted to all ZOE models.

The ZOE comes with Renault’s patented Caméléon charger, compatible with all power levels up to 43 kW. Charging batteries at a charging station can take between 30 minutes and nine hours. For example, ZOE can be charged in an hour at 22 kW. This intermediate power level extends battery life and puts less pressure on the power grid than the fast-charging of batteries at 43 kW.

The ZOE’s synchronous electric motor with rotor coil has a power output of 65 kW and maximum torque of 220 Nm. The car is fitted with ‘Z.E. Voice’, an alarm that warns pedestrians that the ZOE is approaching. ‘Z.E. Voice’ can be heard from 1 to 30 km/h and the driver can choose between three sounds. It can be switched off.

Like all EVs, cute little ZOE emits no CO2, NOx, CO or fine particles. Not the kind of Renault hatchback we’re used to here, but just as impressive!