Hybrids & Electrics

French/German Subsidies Make Renault ZOE EV Free: Would You Take One?

The 2020 Renault ZOE is the best-selling EV in Europe. With German and French subsidies it’s also free. That’s right, you can lease a ZOE for free in those two Euro countries. Each country has substantially increased subsidies to encourage EV sales. There is also Cash for Clunkers programs to help stimulate sales keeping manufacturers afloat. If it were available here which it is not, would you take a Renault ZOE? Would you use it? 

Since one dealer in Germany advertised leases being essentially free it has received 3,000 inquiries and 300 signed contracts. And that was earlier this month. So the saying, If it’s free it’s me,” must really be true. The dealer told Bloomberg, “If we had more sales staff we would have sold even more.”

RELATED: Europe’s Top Electric Cars: How Would They Sell in America?

Subsidies and programs are not only moving people into EVs but also helping the industry

2020 ZOE | Renault

Besides getting everyone into an electric car German Chancellor Angela Merkel and President Emmanuel Macron wanted to stimulate auto production in this pandemic. Europe’s auto industry is recovering slower than in China or America. So the combined subsidies and programs are not only moving people into EVs but also helping the industry.

Many expect battery prices to drop making EVs much cheaper

2020 Renault ZOE interior | Renault

It is why sales of the ZOE look to be on the way to doubling this year. The Smart car has also seen similar results after ads were placed in newspapers. About 1,000 people wanted to buy it before the automaker announced it couldn’t supply that many cars that quickly. Mostly these sales are for company cars due to tax rebates not available to the general public. 

While Germany and France see the advantages of subsidizing EV sales both the UK and Belgium cut back on their allocations. The subsidies may not need to last too much longer. Many expect battery prices to drop making EVs much cheaper. When that happens prices will be cheap enough to spur sales without any government involvement. 

In general EV sales have amounted to over 6% of total sales in Europe, up from 3.6% last year. The overall market declined 7% last year meaning that EV sales are up 121% more than in 2019. In the US total EV sales amounts to 3% of total sales.

The ZOE is basically the same as when introduced in 20090

2020 Renault ZOE | Renault

Back to the ZOE, it sold almost 10,000 units in January, which led the next-best-selling Peugeot 208EV at almost 3,900 sold. What’s weird is that the ZOE has been around since 2009 when it was unveiled at the Frankfurt Motor Show. It has received a refresh, new tech, and more range over these many years but it’s basically the same car. 

As a comparison, the ZOE is just slightly higher-priced than the Nissan Leaf and about the same size. Prices start at $33,000 up to $47,000. It’s powered by a 52kWh battery with an average range of 245 miles.  

Cash for Clunkers talk is in the air and presidential candidate Joe Biden has already stated he’s like to see it return should he get elected in November. Though we doubt this program and other incentives would hand us a Leaf or i3 BMW for free, would you give up your current ride for one if that were the case?