Renault Fluence Z.E. (probably stands for “Zero Economizing”)

Renault’s latest addition to its all-electric family, the Fluence Z.E., reintroduces problems that came with the Twizy I’ve already written about.

For €21,000 (that already carries a €5,000 tax discount), one of these EVs can be yours. But then you have to pay €82 a month for battery pack rental, for a maximum of 10,000km a year. That’s not counting electricity. Which makes this car a jolly expensive vehicle to run, even in the long term. Doing the corresponding maths, each year you’ll pay €984 alone for the battery rental, plus electricity (which Renault say will cost around €2 per 200km), for a measly 6,000 miles. I do more than double that a year and my fuel bill is around €800. Even counting maintenance costs, my ten-year old Volvo is still a better deal.

OK, then there’s the usual drawbacks of it being a fuss to recharge, the range, etc. I once read (I don’t remember where) about an entrepreneur who wanted to create a network of battery-recharging stations where you’d take your EV and simply switch a depleted battery for a fully charged one. This implies a certain standardization of batteries I don’t think car manufacturers are ready for, but it would be a clever way to go. Either way, I don’t think it’s unfair to say that the current model of EV usage is way, way too inefficient to appeal to a wide-ranging market. The cleverest bet thus far is an EV with a range-extender, best exemplified by the stunning Fisker Karma. This isn’t to say the Electric Car itself will fail, just that the current concept of it will.

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