Renault has been selling the official Zoe granny charger for a while. The official name is AFAIK the “Flexi charger”. It retails for a bit over 700 euro’s. Charging current is fixed to 10 amps. Slovenian forum member “pirpy” dissected it (partly) and noticed there is a control wire to the Schuko plug to change the maximum power setting to 13 amps. It is done by using a “special socket”, that is coded to supply that current using….. a strong magnet!!

See this forum entry and a few posts down. “pirpy” decided to use this knowledge to recode the flexi charger to 13A permanently.

renault-flexi-granny-magnet

In all fairness user “Crf” in the UK SpeakEV forum pointed me to this and I fully admit I thought he was pulling off a pretty decent April 1st joke, but it is really true!

Edit: as expected the Flexi charger has two relays so it can switch polarity. That was impossible to do in my granny charger, simply because there was no room for it.

Since Renault started giving out some Europe maps for free (and those not fitting on the standard non-Europe TomTom SD card), a couple of people have stepped up the work to try and clone & resize these cards. SpeakEV User Sandy posted this tedious but awesome procedure to get it done. It’s unverified, but it seems we’re getting there. See the 7th post in this thread.

Edit: I created a more detailed step by step instruction here. All credits to Sandy though!

There is always a risk of listing the bad things, which could easily lead to the false impression things are “wrong”. On the other hand, it is nice to have some sort of repository of issues and their solutions. One of them is this one.

Both a neighbour of mine as well as a driver in the UK had the problem that the car refused to charge. Her “nose” gave a double blue flash. From what I have understood there are two possible issues:

  • the car is accidentally in timer mode. Check your R-Link for the timer settings (though there should be a clock symbol in the display), and your app;
  • the TCU is defective.

In both cases mentioned, replacing the TCU by the dealer solved the issue. It is kind of interesting as it suggests that Renault implemented the battery’s “DRM” through a mechanism that it will still work, but not charge anymore. It sounds as a rather safe approach as you’d stop somewhere on a safe spot to charge anyway. What is not very very OK is that the car does not indicate in any way that the car disable charging because of a signal from Renault, or lack thereof. Now you’re basically clueless. The whole thing also suggests (yes, speculation mode!) that the battery needs to be unlocked on a regular basis and if it’s unable to contact big brother, the battery will refuse to be charged. On the other hand, I had a communication failure for weeks without additional problems. My TCU was not defective/replaced though. It’s an interesting subject and there is no clear cut answer yet.

Seems like I was wrong on the “DRM” as user Harm suggested in the comments.

As the original head lights are what we call “glowing nails”, I decided to replace the bulbs with HID (“xenon”) types last summer at the Zoe drivers meeting. It does entail some cutting in the rubber cap and a small metal clip, but all in all it was rather doable, about 10 minutes work per lamp. I must say it is something I would never want taken away anymore. Visibility is so much better. And the white-blue light fits the Zoe pretty good. Recommended.

Still it wouldn’t be fair not to state the drawbacks.

  • Sometimes one of the HIDs won’t start. It is a rather common problem. I always check the reflection. Switching off for 20 seconds usually solves the problem.
  • HIDs have a start-up time of roughly 30 seconds. As the Zoe has projector lamps with mechanical shutters, flashing during daytime is impossible.

Development of LEDs has been going at a crazy pace. Temperature management seems to have been the most serious issue. A few fellow drivers have installed these types of LEDs and are reporting good results. The fanned out copper mesh wire seems to cool the thing quite effectively. I am not 100% convinced of the longevity but the light is comparable to the HIDs and the two mentioned issues are non-existent.

Edit: Harm Otten posted his experience with two LED headlight systems in his ZOE here (in Dutch but google translate is your friend). Based on that, if I had to do it again, I’d use the ones he installed instead of the HIDs.

BTW, the tail lights are LEDs and integrated in the lamp holder. Braking and Turn-signal are colored traditional bulbs.

In the Dutch Renault forum, the issue came up that the maximum regenerative power allowed is higher than what CanZE reports as the Max battery charge / regen kW power. Based on a few experiments of my own only, it seems the Zoe will allow double the reported power for regeneration, capped at 40 kW DC of course. After all, it is supposed to be a short burst and the amount of energy, by definition, has already been taken from the battery.

I would appreciate your findings. Just open CanZE on the driving screen and whenever the Max battery charge / regen kW is substantially below 20 kW, try to do a serious regenerative brake (from a high speed works best, i.e. a motorway exit) and see how far the DC Power kW (or if it refreshes too slow, the blue kW in the dash) shows please. Thank you!

Edit: based on my own testing it seems there is indeed a short over-power possible. The rough formula is max_charge_power * 1.65 + 3.5. More testing by Borut suggests this seems sustainable for either roughly 40 seconds, or until the total battery voltage reaches 390 volts (4.06 volts per cell), see the comments.

It should be possible to calculate the max regen power by taking the max_regen_torque (the blue bar in the driving and consumption screen) and multiply that by the wheel speed (in rad/sec). I might implement this in a test screen.

The Zoe has a crawling mode that cannot be disabled (which is unfortunate I think, but I know others differ). It needs a bit of braking to counter this crawling when at a traffic light. When the brake pedal is pressed only a bit, the motor will still push and you’re spoiling a couple of hundred watts in the motor. So, when at a red light, either press the brake a bit firm, or switch the gear to N.

A (former?) Twizy and current Zoe driver in Austria called “AbRiNgOi” had a Twizplay laying around. This is an open source CANbus driven small display, based on Atmel micro controller. Anyone who has ever played with Arduinos knows what I am talking about. The specific controller used is an automotive version of an ATmega with a build in CAN controller.

He reprogrammed the Twizplay using the CANbus information that we gathered and that is available in the source code of CanZE on github. We are very pleased and proud that our hard work is spinning off toward other projects, in the true spirit of Open Source. Link here.

DSC02335

TwizPlay is originally programmed in BASCOM (a non-Free BASIC compiler for the Atmel and 8051 processors), but “AbRiNgOi” decided to do this the proper, but hard way and redo all using Atmel Studio 7 and C++, bringing it much, much closer to the Arduino community.

 

The R240 is the Zoe with the new, more efficient, air-cooled motor that Renault developed in-house. There is some consensus that the battery of the R240 is exactly the same as the Q210, but given the different characteristics of the motor, and the fact that the motor coils are used by the charger (very smart design!) it is capped to charge at a rate of 22 kW maximum. A UK based Zoe driver noticed the “Max battery charge” nicely went up way above 22 kW and asked how that could be.

polnjenje-zoe-r240-43kwToday, user Crf supplied us with this CanZE graph when charging his R240 at a 43 kW charger, and I believe it confirms what we were thinking. The Zoe simply caps the incoming pilot and fakes it’s value towards the other systems involved. Notice how it reports 32A and 22 kW available power. Those numbers are both off and way too neatly rounded.

The battery itself (the LBC’s) reports it’s willingness to take the full 40 kW DC power load, and as the SOC goes up it starts it’s capping at roughly 11 kWh. Again, the little jumps we believe is caused by the temperature rising. 2 kWh per degree Celsius is ballpark right. The very rapid capping near the end is kinda interesting.

So yes, it seems like the R240 has the same battery as the Q210. The BCB is tweaked a bit to simply ignore anything above 22 kW and the rest of the car simply behaves as if a 22 kW charger is attached.