Renault's Electric Concept Cars Get Real
By EV World
Last year, at the Frankfurt Auto Show, Renault rolled out four all-electric concept cars: the Fluence ZE, the ZOE, the Kangoo ZE, and the diminutive Twizy narrow body EV, the last probably the most unusual car of pack. Since Better Place also announced at the same event that it was ordering 100,000 Fluence ZEs for its electric car network in Israel and Denmark, it was clear that the Fluence would be built. The fate of the others was less sure.
We now know that all four of them are being put into series production and the order book is now open with pricing announced for the Fluence and Kangoo Express. The ZOE will be put into production by 2012, with the Twizy two-place tandem hitting the streets the middle of 2011.
The Fluence will be sold for €26,000 (excluding VAT and battery) in Europe and €21.300 in France, where a €5,000 tax incentive applies. The Kangoo will be offered for €20,000 in Europe and €15,000 in France. Pricing of the ZOE Preview and Twizy have not yet been announced.
As the company readies for production, it will build approximately 150 of each model, for a total of 600 vehicles, which will be placed in demonstration programs in 10 countries, presumably mainly in Europe, though details are lacking at this time.
Batteries Leased Separately
What is interesting about Renault's marketing plan is that it will lease the batteries separately from the vehicles themselves. Additionally, leasing pricing depends on miles driven annually. The Fluence will come with a starting lease covering the first 10,000 km (6,213 miles) at a monthly cost of €79. Being a commercial service vehicle, its lease covers the first 15,000km and costs €72/month.
In addition to the battery leasing innovation, the company explains in its official 50-page press release for the 2010 Paris Auto Show, that the vehicles can be charged at three different rates or methods:
• Standard charge: This will be the most common method of charging. The Z.E. would be charged at home or at a publically-accessible charging point. A full charge will take between 3.5 and 8 hours, depending on model (Twizy, 3.5 hours and Kangoo Z.E., ZOE Preview and Fluence Z.E. between 6 and 8 hours). For charging at home there are two methods: either a connection via a Wall-Box (this protects the domestic circuit) or an EVSE (Electric Vehcile Supply Equipment) offered as an option. The recommended option is the Wall-Box with the advantages of ergonomics, speed, load optimisation and protection of both the domestic circuit and the vehicle.The company further promises 'One-Stop Shopping' that enables customers to purchase and finance their EVs from their local Renault dealer, arrange the battery lease and have the wall-mounted home charging unit installed and serviced.
• Fast charge: In emergency, when the customer needs to charge the battery quickly, they can connect via a public fast charge point. This will give 37 miles range in less than 10 minutes or 80% battery capacity in 30 minutes. Quickcharge will be available on ZOE Preview and, at a later date, on Fluence Z.E. and Kangoo Express Z.E..
• Quickdrop battery exchange stations: In some countries, Quickdrop battery exchange stations will be available. The customer will be able to change his depeleted battery for a fully-charged battery in just three minutes. This scheme is currently planned in Israel and Denmark, in partnership with Better Place.
Relieving Range Anxiety
Recognizing the reality range anxiety, where drivers worry about running their battery's flat, each Renault EV will be equipped with a Human Machine Interface to keep drivers informed on the status of the vehicle's battery pack. The HMI includes the following:
- A gauge indicates the battery's charge level.
- An econometer informs drivers about their real-time energy consumption by means of a new colour-coded system: light blue to depict 'normal' vehicle use, dark blue for optimal use and red to warn of excessive energy consumption likely to rapidly jeopardise vehicle range.
- A trip computer adapted to the needs of electric vehicles, indicating remaining range (km), average and real-time energy consumption, and remaining power supply (kWh).
- The Carminat TomTom smart navigation system takes range-related data into account and permanently displays the location of the nearest Quickdrop or battery charging station.
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