• Apr 15th 2010 at 9:52AM
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2012 Renault Fluence Z.E. – Click above for high-res image gallery

Renault has just revealed the final production designs for its first two electric vehicles, the Fluence Z.E. sedan and the Kangoo Express Z.E. van. Both of these battery-powered vehicles will go on sale in Israel and Europe during 2011 and Renault is now taking pre-reservations for both. Currently, the reservation process does not provide any indication of pricing for either vehicle.

Interestingly, the press release confirms that Renault will be moving forward with its plan to charge separately for the vehicle and the battery pack. Customers can either buy or lease the sedan or van just as Americans will do with the Nissan Leaf. The battery, however, will remain the property of Renault and will be leased to customers for a monthly fee. The plan is to price the car and battery so that the total cost of ownership and operation is similar to what you would pay for a comparable diesel-powered car and fuel.

Renault will supply the first two markets in Israel and Denmark with at least 100,000 vehicles over the first five years. Better Place will handle distribution in Israel while Renault dealers in Denmark will handle sales and service.

The production Fluence gets battery charger connectors on both front fenders while the Kangoo gets a single port on the front of the vehicle. Both vehicles have a nominal range of about 100 miles. The Fluence's 22 kilowatt-hour battery charges in 6-8 hours from a 220 volt outlet or 30 minutes from a 32A/400V station. The Fluence is the first production EV to also feature Better Place's quick-drop battery swap capability.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 5 Years Ago
      What is kind of interesting about the Fluence is where the battery is placed, behind the rear sears. On a Leaf, there is nothing there but a low load floor. If people don't mind a shallow cargo hold (like a Volt), you could have an auxhilliary battery drop in back there...

      Maybe you could have a dual level load floor. Drive around town with the standard battery and an upper and lower cargo area (with reduced weight). If you want to go on longer trips, drop the lower cargo area and swap in and out the second battery. On the highway (steady speed), you do not have to accellerate and decellerate as much, so weight isn't as much of an issue.... You would need some kind of load-leveling rear suspension, but that isn't a hard thing to add.

      For the Kangoo, we will have something similar here with the NV200.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Dropping an extra battery pack or two in the back of your car makes so much sense: it gives you battery swap and range extension, it gives you a weightlifting work-out at home, it gives strong-but-dumb kids a job, you don't have to drag around an extra 150 pounds of batteries when you're just driving to the store.

        But obviously the devil is in the details. How do you connect the extra battery(s), how does it quick charge it outside the vehicle, how do you make a durable connector, how do you manage thermal stress, do you have a standardized frame, what happens in a crash, etc. I have my doubts about Better Place's business model, but I assume there are good reasons their engineers went with all the complexity of robotic automated battery insertion from underneath rather than "Hank, put two 50 pounders in the trunk, I'll move my groceries out of the way."

        Tesla's site says the Model S has a "5 minute battery swap", but I think they envision swapping out a dedicated Model S battery at a Tesla Motors dealer rather keeping a spare at home or stopping at the Kwik-EV Mart.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Hello from Spain, this car have nosense if there are not quickdrop station. It's very big for city and with 160 km of range is not valid for long travels. I really expect we will have a lot of these station in my country.
      • 5 Years Ago
      That's a heck of a name there, "Fluence." I think Renault meant to evoke "influence," but had the car not looked nice, it could easily have slid to "effluence."
      • 5 Years Ago
      The wording of this post doesn't exactly make it clear. If Better Place (BP) is handling the distribution in Israel, does that mean BP will own the batteries (as is their business model) and not Renault as the article states?

      Can't quite tell what kind of charge connector they're using in the photos. If it's going on sale in the EU, I hope it's the Mennekes one.

      Styling wise, the Fluence is... ok. There's something wonky going on with the front end and it certainly not as attractive as the concept. But I wouldn't mind driving around in such a car.
      The interior, though, is particularly uninspired. I'd at least like a power gauge in the instrument cluster that had a needle that swung negative for regen.

      Nitpicks aside, these are great offerings from Renault.

        • 5 Years Ago
        Yes, that's an embarrassingly boring design from the company that brought us the Megane, Twingo, and unrivaled Avantime. Maybe the photo came from a 2008 article "Soon-to-close Pontiac releases bland Sunbird redesign."

        SAE J1772-2009 adapts much of the signaling and state transitions from the 2001 version of J1772, but changed from the rectangular Avcon flap on old EVs to the round Yazaki connector. Maybe SAE should have pushed for something that can also handle 480V DC Level III quick-charge, but the standard would have taken longer.

        It's sad that Europe will probably have a different connector, but I don't think Mennekes can handle 480V DC quick-charge either. In the same way J1772 goes to 208V by connecting across two 120V AC three-phase wires, Mennekes goes to 400 by bridging Euro 230V three-phase.
        • 5 Years Ago

        Look at the presentation I linked to. The Mennekes connector has the same signaling as the Yazaki connector which comes out of that same J1772 standard. So they're actually compatible on that level. I suppose I should have been more accurate/specific. It's just the Mennekes is a much better design (from many aspects) and can handle higher power through 3 phase.

        So yeah, I'd prefer we had the same connector on both sides of the pond and the better connector is the Mennekes one.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Managed to get some of my questions answered.

        This Fluence EV styling is just the same as the ICE version that is currently available, bland interior and all.
        Hopefully some of the concept's styling cues will make it into later model years.

        The connector shown in the photos is the Mennekes one. I'll also note that the "6-8 hours from a 220 volt outlet" as well as the 30 minute fast charge is handled by this same connector.
        One last time I'll lament the fact that in the US we're stuck with this limited and short sighted J1772 standard. And now have to adopt yet another connector standard (TEPCO) for fast charging. Why?
        • 5 Years Ago
        having sat in one in Frankfurt, I actually really like the Fluence's interior. Very clean and well put together. One of the most comfortable interiors in its class.

        Personally, I kind of like the idea of having a clean dash on an EV and getting rid of some of the gimics... However, I think they need to do away with the gearshifts on these two cars.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Where did all the green glowy bits go? How I am I supposed to scare kids in the neighbourhood into think aliens exist lol. But seriously this is good news who knows maybe this will mean Nissan will send a Model S competitor here other then the Leaf.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I tested the Fluence ZE during the COP15 in Copenhagen. It was a Pre-production version. It is the best EV I have tested so far, but the booth space was very small. It was almost filled up with the switchable battery!

      According to Better Place it will be larger on this production model, but unfortunately there is no picture of it here :-(

      Real my test and Better Places comment here:

        • 5 Years Ago
        It´s not very big. 300 dm3.
      • 5 Years Ago
      "Better Place" should be in the first sentence of this article, not the last! That is the really interesting aspect of these new vehicles . . . they are the first publicly available cars with the Better place Battery swap system.
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