2 weeks ago my 2013 Q210 Zoe refused to charge anymore. At the beginning it was like only sometimes and worked again after a few tries, but rapidly this behavior change to “not at all”. So I tried what I was able to:

  • Let the car sleep for a while and try again.
  • Charge the 12V battery.

… but nothing worked out, so I ended up visiting the national dealer here in Luxembourg. Things over here are still a bit complicated because – for now 8 year already – we have one and only one person that is allowed to touch the high voltage parts of electric cars at Renault. This meant I had to wait 3 days before getting their verdict: the charger needs to be replaced!

After some fast calculations and the question about a new car or not, I ended up giving them my consent to replace the charger but with the condition that I want to get the old one back 😉

You see right, they replaced the entire block, including the filter unit and the cable to the charge port with even the plug lock motor, although I am quite sure that only a very specific part is malfunctioning. Ohhh … you are right: having to pay 3700€, this was a quite expensive replacement, but at least my car now charges again. (I got a Twingo as replacement during 2 weeks … uhh … ahh … it’s a nice small car with which you can make a u-turn anywhere, but that’s the only positive thing a found about it …)

Some changes I have noticed:

  • The charging process starts a lot faster compared with the old charger. After connecting the cable, the “ongoing checks” takes only about 2-3 seconds, which is about 10 times faster than before.
  • The buzzing during the charge process is not as loud.
  • Although my battery health dropped from 102% to 98% after the invention, the range at the end of charge is about 20km higher than before and I’ve noticed that the battery indicated do longer drop very fast on the first half. The magic 98% hints that the battery computer was reset and/or updated so it has to learn how to calculate a reasonably accurate range again.

Set point current (A)Power battery (W) *)Power AC (W)Current AC (A)Power efficiency (%)
32196042150731.5291.2
28170741868127.4091.4
24147141608023.5991.5
20120221306019.26 **)92.1
1692311012015.5692.2
136970781012.8089.2
10444851209.5186.9

*) Battery power (DC) was derived from CanZE, voltage times current **) There was an obvious typo in the data I received for this value, 19.26 is most probably the correct value but I must note this could be wrong.

I must say I am mightily impressed by these figures, especially the dynamic range of the efficiency. I hope this puts to rest the “inefficient” fairy tales. Very clever engineering for sure.

A lot has been written, assumed, wrongly (and rightly) measured and interpreted about the efficiency of the charger. The biggest problem has always been that the big capacitors in the the charger filter section create a fairly large phase shift (phi) so real power is not the same as RMS voltage times current. This is not inefficiency. It’s, at most, ineffectiveness.

I have been in contact with an Italian professor in Power Electronics and he has put an R110 on some serious lab equipment. The results are as follows

Set point current (A)Power battery (W) *)Power AC (W)Current AC (A)Power efficiency (%)
326043707031.685.5
285325630028.184.5
244366523023.483.5
203543427019.681.1
162840356016.280.7
131881254011.874.1
10134119409.369.0

*) Battery power (DC) was derived from CanZE, voltage times current

Conclusion: If charging at a 16A setpoint (single phase), the efficiency is only a few percents lower than the highest measured. 85.5% is nothing to write home about but not bad. 80.7% at 16A is surely not as bad as some people would like you to believe.

I hope to get my hands on some 3 phase measurement. There is reason to believe the efficiency could be better, as there is a lot less curve following to do.

Note: I drafted this post in February and somehow never published it.

Github user SMCinc posted his research on ZOE’s TPMS system in CanZE’s issue tracker.

The proper TPMS sensors can be coaxed to transmit their ID using 125 kHz activation tool. Those tools are cheaper than a decent dongle. Search for “EL 50448”.

The transmission of the sensor can be received by a cheap DVB-T USB Stick with RTL2832 chipset and the rtl_433 software from Github and a Zadig driver (latter only if on Windows). It runs fine on a Raspberry Pi.

rtl_433 -f 434000000 -R 123

Here is example output

https://i0.wp.com/user-images.githubusercontent.com/55346351/74090534-b2093680-4aac-11ea-9261-9887df32b3a6.png?w=918&ssl=1

The ID of the the sensor here is A3FFDAD which should be entered in CanZE as