Image credit: Fully Charged
There's been a lot of interest in the Renault Fluence ZE, and Brian even got to take a test drive when he visited a Better Place battery swap station in Denmark. There are good reasons for all the buzz. From its design origins as a regular, run-of-the-mill car, to its readiness for battery swap technology, it is certainly an interesting looking vehicle. But, if this Fully Charged show is anything to go by, it may well be the price that makes it so attractive.
Besides Robert Llewellyn's announcement about a broader, more holistic scope for the show, this episode takes us on a drive with Andy Heiron, head of Renault's EV program in the UK. refreshingly, Heiron is frank and open when talking about both the benefits and drawbacks of EVs—he is not hopeful of a massive technological break through on batteries, and he says we shouldn't hold our breath for Better Place to come to the UK with their battery swap stations.
Nevertheless, he is confident that the Renault Fluence ZE will fill a much needed niche in the market. Coming out next year, the sticker price is considerably lower than the Nissan LEAF or other competitors, being priced at GB£17,850 (about US$28,000). Crucially, of course, the batteries will not be included in that—but rather leased to the owner. But the leasing costs are around £75 ($120 U.S.) a month, which is less than a tank of gas in the UK, and that price includes roadside recovery, unlimited recharges should you run out of juice, and many other benefits.
All in all, a very promising addition to the electric car market. It will, we hear, be available for purchase in the UK by 2012 at the latest.