Electric Renault's 'silent' engine hope

Renault has high hopes that its next electric car will be a breakthrough model in the UK - and it has revealed that it will focus on its quiet engine as part of efforts to drive sales.

The French carmaker will release the Zoe - a battery-powered small hatchback - on to the UK market next year after sales in the sector have so far failed to meet expectations.

Renault's global sales and marketing director Stephen Norman revealed where the emphasis will lie when the company promotes the Zoe: "The main message is going to be one of silence."

He believes the sluggish take-up of electric vehicles is largely due to the slow roll-out of infrastructure to support owners of such cars.

With better infrastructure, the thinking goes, the greater number of motorists who are willing to take out car finance for new electric vehicles.

However, the marketing chief did bullishly point out that Renault is the market leader in Europe while around the world it is the joint biggest player alongside Nissan.

The company also needs to "work on" its marketing of the vehicles, he acknowledged.

But Mr Norman insists there is no "cultural" resistance to electric vehicles among consumers - so there is an opportunity to develop sales.

"We haven't been able to communicate clearly enough with potential customers about what these vehicles are capable of doing," he admitted.

"We have to get people into a position where they say 'Why would I not have a Zoe?'."

Meanwhile in other motoring news, US carmaker Fisker has revealed that a Premier League footballer is set to become the first owner of the company's first Karma extended-range electric saloon.

The company, based in California, currently has a service outlet but not yet any dealerships in the UK.

Fisker's European chief executive Barny Koehler, who co-founded the firm with Aston Martin DB9 and V8 Vantage designer Henrik Fisker, said the company wanted to set up service outlets for the car before sales centres.

"The cars are left-hand-drive only and in the short term we can handle sales from Europe but we are talking to a number of parties in the UK who are interested in establishing dealerships," he revealed.

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