(REPOST: Automotive News Europe)

Zoe sales in Europe jumped 48 percent to 27,245 through November last year,, according to JATO Dynamics. Sales of its nearest competitor, the Leaf, from alliance partner Nissan, were flat, at 16,531.

At the end of 2016, Renault doubled the Zoe’s range to 300 km (180 miles) in real-world driving, or 400 km in test conditions, a figure that Renault electric vehicle program director Gilles Normand said crossed a “red line” for buyers.

“2017 was about increasing the range,” Normand said in an interview. “We are getting more customers from the mainstream market. It’s no longer just the tech-savvy or eco-sensitive.”

“Fundamentally, the idea is to keep on making Zoe competitive in the marketplace, because we are anticipating more competitors will come, especially toward the end of the year,” he said.

Audi plans to introduce its e-tron Quattro this year, and Tesla’s Model 3 could appear in significant numbers in Europe, though both cars are likely to be priced well above the Zoe, which starts at 23,700 euros in France. Volkswagen brand is planning to sell a family of I.D.-badged EVs by the early 2020s.

Renault said it would introduce eight new electric vehicles by 2022 as part of its Drive the Future strategic plan. The next to appear is likely to be an electric version of the Kwid supermini SUV sold in emerging markets.

Normand said that Renault is making a profit on each Zoe “measured on variable costs.” However, he added, “we are not happy in that we are more expensive than internal combustion peer vehicles. We need to keep working hard to reduce costs.”

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