Renault’s remotely brickable car

When you buy a car, you expect it to come with a battery. Not with Renault’s new electric Zoe. You have to rent the battery. And, supposedly, if you don’t pay the monthly rental fee, Renault can remotely prevent your battery from charging.

It’s part of a larger product strategy through which the Zoe collects huge amounts of data on your driving and ships it all back to the manufacturer.

I can’t imagine this strategy being successful. Who would buy into this scheme?



  • Techpm

    After 3-4 years you’ll be glad you rented and are not the owner of a 600lb+ battery that’s no longer of any use in your car. Imagine the bill just to get rid of it….

    As for data collection it’s the same for all electric cars. The Tesla was also criticised for this.

    The fact is users are essentially beta testing all these cars and this information is going to be very valuable to the companies designing future models.

  • Odi Kosmatos

    “I can’t imagine this strategy being successful. Who would buy into this scheme?”

    What part makes it so you can’t imagine this working? The one about the huge amount of data being collected, or the one where if you don’t pay your bills, your service gets cut off?

  • http://www.mike-pulsifer.org/ WVMikeP

    “I can’t imagine this strategy being successful. Who would buy into this scheme?”

    The same people that pay Adobe to rent their software.

  • alj_disc

    the zoe battery advantage is that you dont pay full price of the battery

    It sells for 22000€ (top equipement, 19% VAT included) with a state green rebate of 7000€. That means you own the car for 15000€ which is the price of a gas engine equivalent.

    the battery is rented for 80€/month but is replaced for free at servicing time if it fails tests, which will always happens in less than 5 years.

    If Renault had sold the battery they say they would have had to do it for 8000€ at minimum. So the rent price is lower than buying it. They can then recycle it.

    the Nissan Leaf (same group as Renault) gives you option of either renting or buying battery. rent price is the same 80€, buy price is 7000€. Also gas prices are high in Europe and 80€ is barely more or lest 2 full tanks here.

    Renault is not perfect, and Zoe is not a luxury car like Tesla ones but the battery can charge is quick stations in 20mn.

    Both the Leaf and Zoe had rocky start, not hitting sale goals, but are pretty good deals for daily commuters.

    • matthewmaurice

      Funny how a little math can change the tone of things. There’s likely also some taxation and accounting advantages for the companies to rent the batteries rather than selling them. Regardless, just another example of a “Sky is falling” headline on a blog post that turns out to be “well, that’s not so bad” when a little critical thinking is applied.

  • GadgetGav

    If you don’t make a payment on any car that you’re leasing or buying on finance, it can be repossessed. Battery leasing seems like a good idea for electric cars – look how much of an outcry there has already been about the replacement cost of battery packs. You should also understand Cory Doctorow’s reflexive backlash against anything he sees as DRM. He has a lot of valid points on many subjects, but this one seems to be stretching what is theoretically possible into what he says will happen.

    • matthewmaurice

      Agreed. Doctorow’s idea of “if you can’t fix it, you don’t own it” always seemed like rubbish to me.

  • Mother Hydra

    Reporters were then shown a special feature that allowed drivers to turn off the engine governor, while in park, by inputting a series of honks, wiper activations and blinker switches. Done in combination with gas and brake pedal pumping, the feature is activated by the on-board computer and an additional 20bhp is immediately available to the engine. This breakthrough feature is tentatively dubbed the K-code, and is expected to be rolled out to the entire Renault production line starting Q3 2014. It remains to be seen how competitor Suzuki will respond. Astute readers will remember Suzuki taking offense at the K-code feature during Renault’s unveiling at the Frankfurt Auto Show. According to those familiar with this matter, the dispute is largely down to the K-code name, which Suzuki claims will cause consumer confusion alongside their own kei cars of yore.

  • Terry Maraccini

    WE made Renaults in my town for a while after they merged with AMC. You don’t need an app to do this. They do it on their own.

  • Terry Maraccini

    Seriously, I see nothing here that is out of order. This actually seems like the best way too do this.

    We can only hope that the data collected about every individual will turn out useless, as too many data points don’t always tell an accurate story.