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by Tim Beissmann

Production of the Renault Fluence ZE has been abandoned following the collapse of its electric infrastructure partner and minimal take-up of the battery-swapping electric sedan.

Renault confirmed the official closure of the Fluence ZE’s assembly line in Turkey this week, eight months after the car maker halted production when Israeli partner Better Place declared itself bankrupt in May.

The French brand has reportedly axed both the replaceable-battery version of the Fluence ZE as well as the conventional plug-in variant due to poor sales.

Renault Australia managing director Justin Hocevar predicted the demise of the Fluence ZE last year in the wake of Better Place’s closure announcement, telling CarAdvice the car maker had “no more battery swap [plans]”.

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The death of the Renault Fluence ZE is likely the final nail in the coffin for the battery-swapping concept. While in theory it allows EV drivers to swap their spent battery for a fully charged one much faster than the time taken to recharge it, the infrastructure required to support a full network of battery-swapping EVs proved unsustainable. Better Place’s investors lost US$800 million ($915 million) on the venture that launched in 2007.

The Renault Fluence ZE debuted at the Frankfurt motor show in 2009. Approximately 3500 were sold in Israel, France and Denmark between the start of production in 2011 and April 2013 (the month before Better Place’s bankruptcy announcement).

The Fluence ZE was to be sold in Australia from mid-2012, but Renault was forced to indefinitely postpone its launch in December of that year due to delays with the rollout of Better Place’s infrastructure, and abandon its plans altogether in February 2013 after the Israeli company cut funding of its Australian operations.

The Fluence ZE claimed a 185 kilometre range and was set to wear a sub-$40K price tag (excluding batteries) in Australia.




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