Renault is committed to bringing the electric car to the masses and the fact that it is launching a range of electric vehicles is a clear demonstration of this. The Fluence Z.E. is aimed at the family market but it is a saloon rather than a hatch. This is because it is derived from an existing model which is sold in the rest of saloon-loving Europe with petrol, diesel and electric powerplants.
If you’re familiar with the Megane you’ll feel at home inside the Fluence as the dashboard is shared. This hints at the fact that the Fluence is based on Megane underpinnings so despite measuring 4.748 metres in length there is no more space inside than the shorter hatch. To turn it into an electric car, Renault has had to stretch the Fluence to fit the battery pack in between the rear seats and the boot so you can’t fold the rear seats down and the boot itself is modest at 317 litres.
Despite starting with a conventional model the Fluence Z.E. is impressively efficient. This means that the 22 kWh battery pack provides an official range of 116 miles. To save the batteries, top speed is limited to 84 mph whilst 0-62 mph is dispatched in a respectable 13.7 seconds.
The Renault’s ace card is its price which is competitive with conventional petrol and diesel rivals when the government grant is taken into account. This is because you rent the expensive batteries with monthly fees varying depending on agreed mileage. In addition to keeping the price down, this also means that Renault is responsible for the battery so you don’t have to worry about how many years it will last for.
The Renault Fluence Z.E. doesn’t cost any more than a conventional hatch and even with the battery rental offers substantial reductions in running costs. It’s a shame that it’s an unfashionable saloon and you have to pay for the cable that allows you to recharge from a standard socket or pay around £800 to have a home recharging box installed; the cable should be free!
Official electricity consumption: 120 Wh/km
Battery pack: 22 kWh lithium ion
Recharge time: 220v 16A home charging box 6 – 9 hours, standard 220v socket 10 – 12 hours
Please note that CO2 emissions quoted for electric cars are not directly comparable to diesel and petrol cars. This is because CO2 emissions quoted are calculated by Green Car Guide and include the emissions created at the power station turning fuel (e.g. gas etc) into electricity and in transmitting and distributing the electricity to an end user. They do not include the actual production of the fuel (e.g. gas extraction and refinery emissions). Petrol and diesel emissions are supplied by car manufacturers and are based solely on the fuel burnt in the engine (tailpipe emissions) and do not include the production of the fuel or distribution to a fuel station. In practice this means that electric car emissions are over estimated relative to petrol and diesel. For instance if an electric car, a petrol car, and a diesel car are all reported to emit 100 g/km CO2, the electric car actually has lower emissions.