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by Brett Davis

Renault has unveiled the Renault Fluence Z.E. at the 2011 Australian International Motor Show in Melbourne. The car features a fully electric drivetrain and a switchable lithium-ion battery setup.

As part of the unveiling, a special announcement was made at the show with a partnership with Renault, GE and Better Place Australia. GE said it is aiming to buy at least 1000 electric vehicles by 2015. This kicks off a commitment by the company which was made in late 2010 that hopes to see total worldwide purchases span out to 25,000.

Ben Waters, director of ecomagination GE Australia & New Zealand, annouced,

“GE is a strong supporter of electric vehicles. In November 2010, we committed to purchasing 25,000 electric vehicles globally by 2015, the largest-ever single electric vehicle commitment. In Australia, this means we will buy at least 1000 electric vehicles by that time. We look forward to being an early adopter of electric vehicles in this country.”

The Renault Fluence Z.E. electric vehicle will help to increase Australia’s EV population when it is launched during the middle of next year. It’s powered by an electric motor producing 70kW of power and 226Nm of torque. Acceleration from 0-100km/h is rated at around nine seconds while the top speed is limited to 135km/h. It features, for the first time on an EV, a swappable lithium-ion battery.

Justin Hocevar, Managing Director of Renault Australia, said at the show,

“Zero-emissions electric cars are now a real choice for Australians as we begin the mass transition from petrol to electric, with appealing cars and a comprehensive charge network that delivers convenience and affordability to customers that is equal to or better than petrol.

“The economic fundamentals make the move to electric inevitable. As petrol prices continue to rise over time and battery prices continue to fall, this compelling logic will accelerate the transition to zero-emissions electric cars on Australian roads.

“The transition begins with Better Place’s national charge network rollout which starts from Canberra later this year. From the middle of 2012 the first mass market cars with unlimited range, the Renault Fluence Z.E., arrive on our shores. A progressive national infrastructure rollout will give Australia the largest electric car charging network anywhere in the world by the end of 2013.”

Mr Hocevar says the partnership is working towards bringing Australia to the forefront of the electric vehicle transition from the internal combustion types.

“We are excited to be partnering with GE and Renault, two companies who are leading the world in their commitment to zero emissions driving. Together, Better Place, GE and Renault will make electric vehicles a driving force in this country.”

  • Robbo

    OK, I may be ignorant and I do agree less emissions and etc is a good thing, but… has anyone calculated with the constant rise of electricity prices and with this carbon tax hanging over us if operating an electric vehicle will actually be better off financially and environmentally? Considering a lot of power stations are coal driven, so the end result after producing the electricity – is it a better environmental result? Do you now cop a $2000 per quarter power bill?

    Same theory as the Prius, OK good for operating costs, but to make the batteries blows loads of CO2, so the owner including manufacturing hasn’t really done a good thing (maybe).


    • Alexander

      Robbo, you raise some very valid points, at the moment, and even if electricity prices went up 60%, driving an EV will work out cheaper than a combustion engined car, I’ve also read of studies that found in some countries a coal powered electric car will still ’emit’ less C02 per kilometre than a Petrol car. Despite this, the type of people who buy these cars would also probably have a Solar PV system on their roof to pretty much get free electricity, or have a grew power offset energy plan with their energy provider.

      For the 3rd Gen Prius, Toyota really cleaned up the batter production process, they’re now 96% recyclable. The Prius is now also built in an energy efficient, solar powered plant which is painted in a c02 and air cleansing paint, the factory has its emissions offest with tree planting, the cars are shipped in a diesel solar electir hubrid ship and the Prius has non-petrochemical bioplastic interior plastic. The gen 3 is far cleaner to produce than before, it’s pretty much even with a standard car now. (FYI, I’m not a Toyota salesman/PR person :) I just did research before getting a Prius)

      • Alexander

        *excuse the typos, iPhone keyboards are dodgy…

        • Robbo

          @Alexander; @Charles:
          Thanks for the in-depth response guys, my questions have been on my mind for a while as I can see one day out of our two cars (living in Brisbane) one will become a ‘city car’ and the thought of owing something greener is certainly appealing. The cost of running has been questionable, and your feedback certainly makes sense. It is brilliant to see Better Place making the move that they are making, like most schemes we experience in life it takes a good execution to make it wanted by us public. I like what you both wrote, very informative, proof of your knowledge is very appreciated! And Alex, big effort on the iPhone, love it!

          Thanks again guys, will read it over and over.
          Great article too Brett :)

  • Charles

    Robbo: With a standard electric car:

    Which you charge with your own electricity – it costs about $2-4 to “fill up” a car. electricity price increases would have to be pretty significant to challenge how much we pay for petrol. Of course, in this case, the car is $10-15k more.

    Environmentally, don’t forget some of our power comes from renewables, and this will only increase, whereas with petrol its always going to be burning oil. Even with 100% coal supplied power, it is a better environmental result since internal combustion engines are so inefficient compared to power stations. Also, most electric vehicles will recharge overnight when coal stations are generating more power than the demand on the grid.

    With Better Place vehicles (like this article):

    The financial model is a bit different, they retain ownership of the battery (cuts upfront cost for customer) and subsidise the upfront cost so that it is slightly cheaper – then you sign up to a plan with them (for who knows, 3-5 years?) they charge you something like 75% of what you would be paying otherwise. Clearly this means they are charging something like $30-40 for $2-4 of electricity – but don’t forget they are paying for the batteries at $8-10k per car, paying to install the charge points, build the battery swap stations (which must be a few hundred thousand dollars!)

    Environmentally: Better Place have also signed agreements with renewable energy providers (in Australia, AGL) to provide energy from 100% renewable sources. So it is definitely better.

    • Robbo

      @Charles, reply above :)

  • Eureka

    Are you sure the Flatulence doesn’t run off gas?!

    • Thomas

      What an ignorant knob. Have a read of articles about this vehicle before you make a comment. The Fluence EV has received numerous awards already.

      • Eureka

        Calm down, it was just a joke – I said FLATULENCE.

        • http://hotmail edwin

          you are an idiot

    • Alexander

      It would be funny if there was a Renualt Fluence Natural Gas/methane variant, gas powered cars are quite popular in some EU markets…

  • Mark

    Quick assessment of use & costs to consider.
    Recharge time of say 10 hours for 240V, 10 amp @ $0.259c/KWhr = $2.59 (every night) or $18/wk
    Battery lease of $120/month is too high; should be around $40/month.
    On top; change out battery at station, say around $40 per time.
    City week driving for 400kms : $39 (+ battery lease)
    Country trip of 400kms: $80 (+ 2 battery change outs)
    So, to improve benefit is reduce the monthly battery lease.