Friday, 9 September 2011

Renault Fluence Z.E. - Ecovelocity

'Each of those red cables is carrying 4000 volts,' was the Renault representative's opening line, 'so if you're not careful with it, it will kill you.' This seemed like a bold and unusual pitch; I mean, any car will kill you if you're not careful with it. Perhaps the Fluence Z.E. is more dangerous than most...?
Probably not though, to be honest. As well as aceing the Euro NCAP tests across their range, Renault are more enthusiastic than any mainstream manufacturer - in Europe, at least - to get full-electrics onto the market. The Fluence, one of four forthcoming zero-emission EVs (the others being the commuter Twizy, a Clio-sized hatch and a commercial van), offers rather a promising package. Its lithium-ion batteries can be fully charged in eight hours on a domestic supply, but a 10-minute charging blast is enough to give you 30 miles of driving. Presumably as the cars become more popular, boost-packs will appear on the aftermarket to keep in your boot as an emergency get-you-home measure.

It'll only cost a couple of quid to charge, but you will have to pay Renault a £69 monthly lease fee for the batteries - they're so expensive and complex that you don't actually get to own them (although, much like you can get a replacement laptop battery from PC World, presumably spare lithium-ion car batteries will be developed as the tech gets cheaper.)
So if you want to go full-electric and would like something a little more luxurious than a Nissan Leaf, the Fluence Z.E. is your baby. It's even got charging sockets on both sides, so you don't have to bother to remember which way round to park it when you get home. Handy.

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