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what you should know before buying

If you are one of those who is looking for a cheap electric car as an alternative to high fuel prices, but also to the inflated prices of brand new cars, the used market is an increasingly interesting alternative. One of the most complete and popular models is the Renault ZOE, which has become one of the most economical and interesting options. But you have to take into account some details before launching into the purchase.

And it is that if we throw take a look at used websiteswe see that in the Spanish market there are already units of the first generation from 7,000 euros. A price that means betting on the first models that have high mileage and some peculiarities.

As we remember, the ZOE has had several versions, starting with the Q90 variant, which had an 88 CV Continental engine, which was later joined by the R90, already from Renault, with 92 CV, later completed with the R110 (108 CV) and the R135 (135 CV) of the latest version.

One of the characteristics that makes the ZOE an alternative to take into account are aspects such as that it is a compact model but capable of accommodating five passengersand also has a generous trunk for its size of 338 liters. A trunk that also, given its configuration with a gate, allows you to put quite bulky packages, such as a folding bike, without problems.

Despite some materials that are somewhat weak in quality, such as plastics, and especially the dashboard that reflected the sun on the windshield, the interior environment is pleasant with light materials and fabric inserts with a quality effect.

Another feature to take into account is that the ZOE had a single purchase option in its first generations, what was with the battery for rent. A format that the passage of time has taken away the reason due to the excellent behavior of the battery. And it is that units with more than 100,000 kilometers maintain more than 85% of their original capacity. And the guarantee of the rental system was to change it when it fell below 75%. That is why Renault decided to open the system and offer customers the purchase of that battery, or purchase the car with it as their own.

The problem in this case was not the battery, but other elements of the electrical system that have given a little more war, and that means that we must be very careful when buying first generation units.

History of the Renault ZOE

  • March 2013: launch of the ZOE, battery rental
  • March 2015: new Renault R240 engine
  • January 2017: new ZE 40 battery (41 kWh)
  • March 2018: new R110 engine
  • April 2018: possibility of complete purchase
  • June 2019: ZOE 110 or 135 hp; 41/52kWh batteries
  • January 2021: end of battery rental

The versions between 2013 and 2015 have a Continental system that stood out for having a Cameleon charger capable of charging at 43 kW in alternating current. Something very unusual. Also at 22 kW, which has subsequently become its great hallmark.

But the version Q90 were very picky about power outlets. If it detected even the slightest bit of interference, it wouldn’t charge. Something that supposes that a car with little autonomy, could not be able to charge in a public socket. And of course, charging in a conventional wall socket was a lottery.

With scarcely 22 kWhthe autonomy of the first versions did not exceed too much 120 real km. With the passage of time and the degradation of the battery, this means a loss of range, so that with more than 100,000 km we can find ourselves with less than 100 km of real autonomy. And in winter the figure can drop since the air cooling system does not work miracles.

Users have also complained about problems such as headlights that hardly illuminate, reflections on the windshield due to the design of the dashboard, and above all, in the event of a breakdown, mainly the engine, a dealer network that was not prepared to attend to these unforeseen. Something that could shoot repair wait times weeks or months. Something that luckily has been improving.

Which version is the most recommended?

If we have some margin, the ideal is to avoid first generation units for all of the above. It is best to opt for versions from 2015, R240. The main problem is that we will not know for sure, or at least at first glance, if it is a later registered R90, or really an R240. You have to look in the documentation.

This version already has the Renault system, a much less delicate charger, and loses the charge at 43 kW. But with 22 kW, we will be able to charge the battery in less than an hour. In addition, the charging system is more efficient, which allows us to save compared to the Q90.

Contact with the Renault ZOE r240

It also increases the capacity of the battery, which goes from 22 to 23.3 useful kWh. Something that allows you to slightly increase autonomy.

In this case the investment is somewhat higher, but not too much. We can find units with less than 100,000 km for about 9,000 euros. A difference that will allow us to take home a much more complete option with fewer surprises.


In 2017 Renault hit the table with the arrival of the ZE 40 version. A variant that did not change anything in terms of design or equipment, but that incorporated a battery that reached 41 useful kWh.

This meant putting in the same space 86% more capacity than the first generation. Something that triggered autonomy and also deduces the possibilities of deep discharges of the first models. Something that should extend the life of the battery itself.

It maintains the 22 kW charger (there is a Continental version that charges at 43 kW) and also some of the problems of the first generations, with recurring engine failures, and in many cases warnings of problems in the electrical system that may have different origins. . From 12-volt battery wear, which causes a message on the dashboard, to throttle potentiometer problems, which give the same warning.

But for the rest, the ZE 40 is one of the most compensated options that you can find on the market, with prices starting at 12,000 euros. (See advertisement)

Renault ZOE ZE 40. Part 1: First impressions

A ZOE with between 200 and 250 kilometers of real autonomywhich after 100,000 km maintains 85% of the capacity of its original battery, which added to its good capacity, will allow us to enjoy a range close to 200 km for many years.

As a curious note, to say that I have had the first generation, Q90, and I have the latter, R90, and the differences in terms of autonomy, battery degradation and charging efficiency are enormous. So personally if the budget allows it, I would bet on the R90 without hesitationsince except for unforeseen events it will be a car for many years and not just to get by.

Also indicate that the models advertised as “Flexi” are the versions with a battery for rent, and Renault offers as an option to purchase them with the battery owned. A cost that will depend on factors such as the year of the vehicle and the kilometers traveled.


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