Renault Fluence Z.E

A new electric car that will hit Australia in the second quarter of 2013 being the Renault Fluence Z.E. It is an electric version of the compact sedan car. This vehicle was first shown in 2009 at the Frankfurt Motor Show. The car has a 22 KWH Lithium-ion Battery which will allow the vehicle to travel 185km before it needs to be recharged. It also has speeds up to 135 km/h. This drives a 70kW electric motor and has 226Nm of torque.

What is different about this car?

This will be the first electric car that has a swappable battery which is available on the Better Place electric vehicle network. This is a technology which will allow the driver to swap out a depleted battery for a fully charged one. There was a trial in Tokyo which allowed driver to exchange their depleted battery for a 160 km recharged one in on average 59.1 seconds. Better Place customers would only have to drive up to a battery switch station to start the process. There is an in car navigation system called ‘OSCAR’. This provides traditional route guidance and also will pinpoint charge spots and battery switch stations. This also uses a wifi connection to communicate with the computers in the station and there is also a tag on the windscreen which allows a barrier to open. The dashboard and external monitors give instructions and the process is completely automated. It is just like going through a car wash; it just takes a few minutes to exchange the battery. New owners who sign up for membership with Better Place will have unlimited access to batteries, the network of battery switch stations and public charge spots and will be able to have personal charge spots at their home or place of work. Better Place are committed to supplying 100% renewable electricity. With the Renault Fluence Z.E. this also gives hope that another electric car called the Leaf EV made by Nissan will get a publicity boost.

Why should you drive an electric car?

First of all an all electric car would give out nearly zero emissions. For alternative transport fuels, electricity is infrastructure ready. Biofuels will never be able to achieve zero emissions and will also require massive amounts of fossil fuels and electricity to be created. The cost per kilometre will always be cheaper. Electricity is publicly generated and hence improvements in density and price reductions for advanced batteries are constantly occurring. Hybrids and electric cars offer a different kind of drive with the former supplementing battery power with petrol/diesel fuel . While it is argued that Hybrids provide a more robust driving experience, their impact on the environment is hindered by usage of fossil fuels at certain stage of a drive such as hill climbing, rapid acceleration and high speed driving. In the near future car rental companies in major cities, like Sydney could start to move from gasoline powered vehicles to all electric vehicles. This would help them reduce their carbon footprint plus maintenance costs for their fleets and this would also reduce the cost for car rental in sydney. This in turn would make it a lot more affordable to use a rental car.