You know the Renault Zoe’s getting a new electric motor that will up its range from 210 to 240 km – the R240 motor is 10% smaller, lighter and features an optimised electronic management system as well as 10% faster charging.

Well, the French carmaker has just announced that the new motor will be built at the Cléon engine plant in Normandy, France. The factory currently builds the Energy dCi 130, 140 and 160 internal combustion engines.

So why Cléon? Well, out of the 260 machines and inspection systems installed for the development of the R240 motor, over half were already in place – they simply had to be converted and reconditioned. This helped to limit investments by nearly 40% without compromising on quality, Renault says.

Cléon will also produce the R240’s Power Electronic Control (PEC) unit – to prevent electrostatic discharge (ESD) from damaging components, the shop floor is covered with a conducting coating that grounds employees wearing special safety shoes, while an ESD test machine at the shop entrance verifies the electrical resistance between an employee’s hand and the floor.

All personnel entering the premises has to wear a special anti-ESD suit. The PEC assembly line is highly manual – after all, 180 tiny components is no joke. Static, sealing and dynamic tests are conducted on all PECs to verify some 20 electrical criteria.

Two bench tests will be carried out on the motor – one with an empty vehicle to check functionality at engine speeds up to 10,000 rpm; another on a dynamic bench, with occupants, to simulate real-world conditions.

The final line puts the PEC, reduction gear (mini-gearbox) and electric motor (crankcase with rotor and stator) together, before a final test is carried out on the whole powertrain, on 100% of production. The Cléon plant can produce 50,000 R240 units a year initially; twice that in the long term.

Renaults Zoe and Twizy are actually officially open for booking in Malaysia, at an estimated sub-RM140k for the Zoe and sub-RM70k for the Twizy. Note that our Zoe will be the 2014 model, so it won’t have the new R240 motor and 240 km range, but it’ll have the same 87 hp and 220 Nm of torque.

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