ELECTRIC motoring is becoming more credible as Renault releases a new version of its battery powered Zoe hatchback with a real world range of almost 200 miles.
That's almost double the distance earlier vehicles could manage on a single charge and now makes the Zoe a real alternative to mainstream models.
It also costs peanuts to run and priced from £17,845 is pitched the same as a high specification supermini.
The difference is the Zoe can be considered as being capable of running at the equivalent of 300 miles per gallon.
For the average driver it means the weekly Monday to Friday run about can be done on one charge and that will cost around Â£3 - two thirds the price of a single gallon of fuel.
Factor in other running costs such as servicing and Renault says the Zoe works out at two pence per mile to run compared to 12ppm for a petrol car.
The new Zoe now stacks up as a cut price way to travel should drivers want to flick the switch and sign up for emission free motoring.
The decision is still very much a lifestyle choice and for those who need a car to travel long distances it won't be practical but the new Zoe is a step in the right direction for anyone who wants to be ultra eco.
What has transformed the Zoe is a new 41kWh battery which has double the energy of most other battery packs currently used in electric vehicles.
Officially it gives the Zoe a range of 250 miles but that's a movable feast and depends on many factors such as the weather, driving style and time of day.
Motorway speeds, cold conditions and night-time journeys all sap power and will reduce range.
On a summer's day Renault says the new Zoe can travel for 186 miles before it needs recharging. Winter weather cuts that to 124 miles.
To prove the point we have just been touring in a Zoe along the Portuguese coast near Lisbon where temperatures are still around 15C.
Touring is not something normally associated with an EV but we managed to drive 110 miles with the car's onboard display still showing a range of 70 miles at journey's end.
The car we used was the new range topping Zoe Signature Nav which costs from £19,895 if you lease the battery or £25,495 outright.
Renault is still going to sell the Zoe with the lower powered battery from the original models first introduced in 2013. Those are priced from £13,995 making it the cheapest all-electric five seater on the market.
Leasing the new high power battery costs £59 a month with an annual mileage cap of 4,500 miles up to £99 a month for a 10,500 mile limit and from next year Renault is offering an unlimited mileage plan for £110 a month.
Do the math, as they say, and that works out at around five years of electric motoring before the battery rental adds up to match the higher retail price.
Battery rental also includes 24/7 roadside assistance and a free replacement should capacity fall below 75 per cent, although Renault says battery life should be between eight and 10 years.
All versions come with a four year/100,000 mile warranty and if the car is sold the battery lease can be transferred to the new owner.
Service intervals are every 12 months or 18,000 miles and with fewer mechanical parts than a regular car running costs should be kept low. A three year/30,000 mile service plan adds up to £143 a year.
The Signature Nav Zoe we sampled was on the posh side, came with big leather seats and an interior decked out in many shades of grey, gold and brown which matched the car's exclusive paint job which Renault is calling Ytrium grey.
On the dash is a neat looking graphic designed to reflect its plugged-in status and it's a pattern repeated throughout the interior, on the head restraints and even in the roof lining.
The high grade Zoe also had a Bose sound system, brightwork around the air vents and a sat nav connectivity system set up specifically for EV us to show available range and available charging points.
Clever journey planning can pay dividends. A coffee break at a service station with a fast charging point can boost the range by 75 miles after a 30 minute hook up and the network of public chargers across the UK is growing rapidly standing at more than 12,000 at the moment.
On the road, apart from being incredibly quiet in the cockpit the Zoe is very easy to drive with only two automatic gears (forwards and reverse), well weighted power steering and an air conditioning system designed not to consume too much energy.
Performance off the mark is brisk taking less than nine seconds to reach 50mph and a top speed of 84mph allows for motorway cruising.
A speed limiter, cruise control and parking cameras are standard and boot space is slightly above family hatch average ranging from 338 to 1,225 litres.
Home charging takes about four hours for a full recharge and costs around Â£3 if done to make use of off-peak electricity at night - and the Zoe comes with a free charging unit as well as the necessary cables to use when out on the road.
So far Renault has sold more than 5,000 Zoes in Britain and last year notched up 1,800. The new longer range model should see that figure rise significantly.
This could be the car that turns the corner for electric vehicles.