APART from the coronavirus, the residents of Appy, a small town in France, must be among the happiest people on the planet.

Why?

Well, they’ll each be getting a brand new car, free, gratis, for nothing, for three years, from Renault.

Every household there will get a new all-electric Renault Zoe.

The French car giant has set out to prove that battery-powered motoring could be feasible for everyone, by effectively creating the first 100per cent electric town, in what it calls a “pioneering new scheme to prove electric mobility can be suitable for all”.

Appy, which lies in the Ariege region in the south of France, is one of the most isolated towns in the country, with 115km between it and the nearest big town of Toulouse. Renault says getting there and back will not be a problem since the Zoe has a  range of just on 400km.

It’s not even considered a town. In fact, it’s a commune with a population of about 30 souls, who call themselves Pynarols and live in the mountainous terrain, heavily forested in the south and west, with the rest Alpine terrain.

It does have a lot of attractions though, like the ruins of the Chateau de Lordat, ski and snowfields,  a three-and-a-half star hotel 11km down the road, even a casino.

And Spain is literally just a stone’s throw to the south.

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“Appy residents will run the Zoes for three years, sharing their impressions and experiences with Renault, in a first-time scheme that will likely inform and help understand the way customers interact with and use electric vehicles day to day,” Renault said.

“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. 

“That also means the myths around buying and running an electric car can be dispelled once and for all.”

The town will have a public charger, and all households receiving the car will be provided with a home EV charging system.

The Zoe, which is about the size of a Clio, was recently given a makeover, where it received fresh styling as well as increased power and range.

It’s powered by a 100kW electric motor that gets the small hatch from 0-100km/h in under 10 seconds.

The considerable range is achieved thanks to its 52-kWh battery pack, which can be charged up to 90 per cent in just 30 minutes when plugged into a DC charger.

The Zoe features a 10-inch instrument display,  a 9.3-inch touch screen; a suite of driver assistance systems and recycled seat material on some models.

So, handouts aside, it’s not hard to see why the Zoe has sold over 100,000 units in Europe already, despite being introduced at the beginning of this year. 

If you buy one instead of relocating to Appy for a free one, Renault will give you a free home wallbox for faster home charging, as well as a five-year 160,000km warranty including three years’ roadside assistance; and an eight-year 160,000km warranty on the battery.

Meanwhile, Appyness is a new free car.

 

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Buys

Bill Buys, probably Australia’s longest-serving motoring writer, has been at his craft for more than five decades. Athough motoring has always been in his DNA, he was also night crime reporter, foreign page editor and later chief reporter of the famed Rand Daily Mail. He’s twice been shot at, attacked by a rhinoceros and had several chilling experiences in aircraft. His experience includes stints in traffic law enforcement, motor racing and rallying and writing for a variety of local and international publications. He has covered countless events, ranging from world motor shows and Formula 1 Grands Prix to Targa tarmac and round-the-houses meetings. A motoring tragic, he has owned more than 90 cars. Somewhat of a nostalgic, he has a special interest in classic cars. He is the father of Targa star Robert Buys, who often adds his expertise to Bill’s reviews.
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