Renault Fluence Z.E. Australian launch stalled

The Australian launch of the battery-swapping Renault Fluence Z.E. electric car has stalled.
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Renault Australia today confirmed it has been forced to postpone the local introduction of the Fluence Z.E. “until further notice” after Israel-based electric vehicle network provider Better Place yesterday announced its decision to cut funding from its Australian program and conduct a wind-down of its local operations.

The innovative design of the Renault Fluence Z.E. allows owners to swap depleted batteries for fully charged ones, giving it a distinct advantage over conventional recharge-only electric vehicles, but also making it hugely dependent on supporting infrastructure.

In partnership with Better Place, Renault originally planned to offer the Fluence Z.E. to customers in Canberra during the second quarter of 2012 before selling it to the public from select dealers across the country by the end of the year. Hold-ups with the rollout of Better Place Australia’s charging and battery-swapping network delayed Renault’s plans last year, and yesterday’s announcement forced an indefinite pause – and potentially the complete abandonment – of the Fluence Z.E.’s local introduction.

Renault says it remains committed to launching electric vehicles in our market and is looking at other options.

“Renault Australia believes in the future of electric vehicles. It will continue working towards the introduction of Renault brand EV models in the future, such as the innovative, purpose-built Zoe.”

The Renault Zoe (above) is a five-door city-sized hatchback with a pure-electric range of 210km. In France, the Zoe is priced comparatively to the similarly sized Renault Clio.

Renault Australia has set no timeline on when it expects to launch its first EV onto the market.