Renault just gave an entire French town free cars to prove it's easy to go electric

Business Insider US
Renault's Zoe model
  • Renault, the French car manufacturer, has gifted an entire town free electric vehicles.
  • All households in the tiny town of Appy can get a free three-year lease on a Renault Zoe, but they have to share their impressions and experiences with Renault.
  • Through the programme, Renault is looking to prove that EVs are practical for rural drivers as well as city dwellers.
  • Renault is giving each participating household a home charger and is setting up a public charging station.
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French automaker Renault has gifted an entire town free electric vehicles, but there's a catch.

The manufacturer offered three-year leases of its new Zoe EV to each and every household in Appy, a minuscule town in the Ariege region of France. In exchange, residents will need to keep Renault updated on their impressions of the car and of EV ownership. The initiative, Renault said, will help the company "understand the way customers interact with and use electric vehicles day to day."

Renault is also looking to demonstrate that EVs aren't just for residents of urban areas, and that the Zoe, with its claimed 245 miles of range, can meets the needs of rural communities just as well as traditional gas-powered cars.

"If the inhabitants of one of the country's most isolated towns can adopt an electric way of life, it'll prove that everyone can," Renault said. "That also means the myths around buying and running an electric car can be dispelled once and for all."

According to various studies, the major barriers to widespread EV adoption have been range anxiety and a dearth of charging stations. To make things a bit easier for Appy's residents, Renault will set up a public charging station and provide all participating households with a home charger.

Europeans who aren't among Appy's roughly 26 residents can still get their hands on an EV from Renault for free or close to it. Thanks to hefty subsidies from the German government, car shoppers there can snag a 9,000-euro discount (R175,000) if they go electric, Bloomberg reports. A similar 7,000-euro (R135,000) incentive in France means that drivers can lease a Zoe for just 79 euros (R1,500) per month.

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