TL;DR It’ll happen in time as competition at the low end increases the base level of software features on entry level EVs.
I think in the case of the Zoe in particular, Renault were going for affordability (a cheap car), so there’s no incentive for them to put any more effort in than they have to.
The priorities for the Zoe will not have been:
- Premium interior finishes
- Sound proofing
- The entertainment system
- The integrated services (the bit we’re talking about)
With the market as it is and has been, the Zoe currently competes on range and price.
The last two bullet points above though are really a case-in-point. The entertainment system… this isn’t even a Renault system, they bought that from tomtom. The hardware is as low-spec as they could get away with, which is why it’s laggy and isn’t powerful enough to support Apple CarPlay. It’s cheap hardware.
The issue this brings though, is that it’s not properly integrated with the car. It’s quite well integrated, to the point that you can get the pre-conditioning to work at a basic level either from a remote app or from the controls in the car or from the touchscreen. The car can report it’s SOC and whether it’s charging or not. But no more effort was put into it than that.
To do better, they would need to build an integrated system from scratch, from the ground up, in the way Tesla has done. But to do that requires a huge project, designers, developers, engineers all working together to create hardware that supports what the software requires, and in a way that it can all communicate correctly. Not to mention owning the very serious burden of responsibility for cyber security
But this is a budget EV. By contrast – using someone other than Tesla as an example – the Jaguar i-Pace will have probably had some decent time and money spent on a holistic architecture which support OTA software updates and is fully integrated into the vehicle. Same for the Porsche Taycan I expect.
I don’t think we can expect this level of integration from an “established carmaker” for what is a low end EV.
However, if Tesla were to make a Model 2 which competed at around a £25k entry price point… they’ve already done all the hard work with vehicles that they’ve been selling for almost a decade at a much higher price. So they can just drop that R&D straight into a smaller vehicle. Renault would have to invest some serious effort, time and money into doing this and they won’t do that for a Zoe.
Eventually, they may have to. Or they won’t compete. Who knows? We’ll see…
EDIT: Sorry, to answer your question, they could just add something that says if the SOC is over 40% then allow unplugged preconditioning. But They didn’t have to to sell the Zoe, so they didn’t. But… someone else at that price point will, and as time goes on we’ll see more software features on base level EVs as they each compete each year to offer more for less. I’ve added a TL;DR at the top