It had a nickel-cadmium battery (the ubiquitous lithium ion type of today had not yet become commonplace), giving it an urban range of 90 miles – pretty impressive, actually. A 0-80% charge would take just two hous.
Despite its microcar looks, the Zoom was fitted with ‘proper car’ safety features, including an airbag, anti-lock brakes, side impact bars and a “new design of seatbelt”.
“The Zoom is part of the French government’s £50 million scheme to put fleets of electric cars into 10 French cities. Both the Renault and Citroën’s Citela electric car depend on the French electricity board providing a network of public recharging stations.
Mirroring the new Citroën Ami of 2020, “The cars would be available for commuters to rent. Drivers would simply slot in a credit card and drive off, leaving the car at any number of designated charging stations.”
Sadly, this scheme never came to fruition. And although, as promised in our 1992 article, Renault did team up with Siemens to produce an Elektro Clio, this never reached proper production.
Instead, we had to wait until 2011 for the first ‘real’ electric Renault – the Fluence ZE saloon. Again, this seemed like a good idea, but its ‘battery swap’ scheme never worked, its range was pitiful and consequently very few were sold.
Things didn’t work out for Matra, either, largely thanks to the abject failure of the bizarre Renault Avantime, essentially a more luxurious, two-door version of the Espace.
Brighter times were just around the corner though, with the brilliant Zoe, a bespoke, Clio-sized electric hatchback that has now been on sale for eight years. After a recent regeneration, it’s still going very strong; in fact, it’s the best-selling electric car in Europe.
We should also mention, of course, that the Zoom concept did in a way come to fruition – just 20 years later and in the form of the Twizy, a doorless quadricyle with a 56-mile range…