Driven Renault Fluence ZE

6 Июн 2014 | Author: | Комментарии к записи Driven Renault Fluence ZE отключены
RENAULT Fluence Electric Cars

Matt Campbell

Renault Fluence ZE

When someone says five-seat sedan , most of us probably think Falcon , Commodore or Camry .

Throw the word unconventional in front of the descriptor, and you ll invariably hear someone utter the name of a French car manufacturer.

Really unconventional . Well, how about pulling out an engine and replacing it with an electric motor? Or stretching the body of the car by 13 centimetres in order to fit a bank of batteries in the boot?

That d be Renault s new Fluence ZE.

The Fluence ZE has just been launched in Europe as Renault s first fully electric passenger car with the Turkish-built three-box sedan now available powered by a purely-electric plug-in drivetrain.

Under the ZE s stretched metal skin is a energy conscious commuter that boasts innovative features including battery-swap functionality (where the car can drop out a spent cell and replace it with a fully-charged unit) as well as the usual plug-and-play recharging system, which uses a high output power source to recharge the car s batteries in about eight hours.

Unlike Mitsubishi s $50,000 i-MiEV and Nissan s $60,000 (est) Leaf, buyers who fork out for the Fluence won t actually be purchasing the batteries that power it. The Fluence ZE which is likely to be priced at less than $40,000 when it arrives here from the second quarter of 2012 will basically be sold as a shell, with the purchaser needing to take out a lease on the batteries used to power the car with green innovations company Better Place (costs TBA).

While all that technowizardry is enticing, perhaps the most intriguing aspect of the Fluence ZE is that it looks, well, almost normal from the outside. There are a few trinkets such as blue chrome badges and a new-look front-end. and you ll also notice a filler cap on each front quarter panel.

The ZE is also quite a bit longer than its sibling, and it s clearly visible when you compare the length of each car s rear overhangs. The ZE measures 4.75 metres in length (about 10 centimetres shorter than a Commodore), but despite its stretched rear-end, the boot capacity has been significantly cut to 317 litres compared to the petrol model s 530L cargo hold. And there s no spare wheel, either buyers have to make do with a repair kit instead.

The interior of the car is also relatively unremarkable, and at first glance looks virtually identical to the petrol version. Look a little closer, though, and the differences are noticeable there instrument dials are blue-ringed, there s no tachometer it s replaced by an energy gauge that shows the current battery charge level and the on-board computer includes a wealth of data such as instantaneous and average energy consumption, battery charge and discharge and range to empty.

It s well-equipped, with dual-zone climate control, Bluetooth connectivity, satnav, auto headlights and wipers and cruise control with speed limiting, and there s a decent amount of storage throughout the cabin.

The interior does, however, suffer from the same irks as the regular Fluence back seat passengers will feel cramped thanks to the car s sloping roof-line, while the front seats could best be described as fat man s chairs they re flat and firm on the squab and lack lateral support on the backrest.

The regular Fluence does nothing much to excite the senses when it comes to driveability, but the plug-in version s drivetrain brings with it a whole new level or enjoyment.

The electric motor produces 70kW of power and 226Nm of almost-instantaneous torque (pulling power) that is available to the driver at the press of the right pedal. The engine whirrs to life, maxing out at about 11,000rpm and topping out on the speedometer at an electronically-limited 135km/h. You won t get anywhere near the car s claimed 185km range if you drive it like that, however.

Even so, it s quite a thrill planting your right foot in the Fluence ZE you feel a bit mischievous doing it and there s something pleasing about listening to the high-pitched whiney note of the motor and watching the battery meter drop before your eyes.

However, the ZE s road manners do leave a bit to be desired.

The front wheels tend to spin under acceleration as they struggle to contain the heft of the electric motor s torque, and while the traction control system kicks in quickly enough to control it, it could be unnerving for less experienced drivers.

Another dynamic compromise is the ZE s steering. At cruising speeds it feels light and a little vague, while driving more aggressively sees the steering wheel tug (torque-steer) to either side under acceleration and kick back clumsily over mid-corner bumps.

We also noticed some road noise, though it s hard not to in a car that runs almost silently under a light throttle.

While we can t speak for how the car will behave under local conditions, our test car s rear suspension felt quite fidgety, even on smoother surfaces. The back-end has been stiffened up to deal with the extra weight of the battery pack (the rear is about 130 kilograms heavier) and it is reflected in the way the car behaves through corners, feeling notably tail-heavy when tackling twists.

But from what Renault (and a good deal of common sense) tells us, the Fluence ZE isn t likely to be the sort of car that appeals to someone who expects the on-road ability of, say, a Megane RS250.

Remove the racing helmet and plonk on the lid of logic, then, and what you re left with is a car that is clever and functional enough to make people think differently about the types of cars they associate with plug-in mobility.

And, perhaps more importantly, a car that offers a good insight into what the five-seat family sedan of the (very near) future will be like.

29 comments so far

Shame about the looks, and the boot, and the range.

But I like the batteries that are swappable, and the fact that it’s 90% a petrol car, without the petrol engine. I await the days when electric cars are just as good as petrols. Until then, I eagerly keep watch at these stepping-stone cars.

Commenter Yaz Date and time October 22, 2011, 2:36AM

So when you get a puncture do you suffer from Flat-ulence?

Battery packs are expensive and heavy and are usually placed between the front and rear wheels for better weight distribution and balance. Safety is also an issue. Do Better Place have a viable business model, as Renault has only limited market here?

Pricing will depend on taxpayer subsidy on both the battery pack and the swap and go stations.

Commenter Quantum of Solace Location Melbourne Date and time October 22, 2011, 1:17PM

I’m not sure why the range issue is highlighted in this article.

Firstly, it’s just common sense that driving less efficiently will waste more power. The articles on petrol cars don’t say if you accelerate as fast as you can up to an illegal top speed fuel consumption will leap from a claimed 6L/100km up to 20L/100km.

Secondly, an expansion on the services offered by the battery swapping company, Better Place, will dispel any notion of needing a large range in a vehicle. When they install a charge spot at home and another at work, every time you get in your car you will have a 100% full battery offing the maximum range. The reality is most people in their everyday lives will be able to forget the notion of refueling on the road offering a huge leap forward in convenience.

On the rare occasion you do need to travel beyond 185km in a single stint, a swap over can be done just as quickly as a fuel stop, only with in car service and no fuel smells. The EV wins the convenience argument hands down, as you will hear from any owner who has actually experienced it, rather than the opinions of skeptics that are just complaining without any knowledge on the topic.

Any complaint about range should be that the batteries are actually too large, and therefore wasteful in construction and too expensive. In reality, most of us would get by on a 50km battery. I’d only need half that.

Commenter Steven Location Melbourne Date and time October 22, 2011, 5:15PM

Steven, the range is highlighted because the Fluence boasts an oversize battery pack in the boot that is easily removed ie swapable so it can get the ‘up to 185 km range. It is a design feature (and flaw). The article points out that by taking a conventional large car, removing a heavy IC engine from the front and putting an ewually heavy battery pack in the boot you affect balance and driving dynamics.

I personally support hybrid technology as smaller engines and battery packs can be used.

Mobile phone and computer manufacturers cannot standardise battery packs. What makes you think the worlds car companies will? Car charging at work? Dream on.

Commenter Quantum of Solace Location Melbourne Date and time October 24, 2011, 7:34AM

PS. Our workplace already has 4 charging points. Dream on.

Commenter OGU Date and time October 24, 2011, 9:41AM

Quantum of Solace, you seem remarkably knowledgeable on these matters, a real expert. Did you also predict the failure of the smart phone?

Perhaps a little further reading might reveal the balance of the vehicle is not adversely affected, nor is the safety. or perhaps you’ve already driven one top form your expert opinion?

The ‘half way house’ of hybrid was a great short term solution. Surely it’s time for full zero emissions solutions. From what I understand, presently no other auto brand has a broader EV program than Renault.

I also read they have invested over 4Bil Euro into the technology. This appears to be the type of leadership that’s required to break the current reliance on fossil fuels.

Commenter OGU Date and time October 24, 2011, 10:39AM

Convention dictates that all plug in electric cars will have an ‘e’ in front of the name.

Hence, the correct name for the vehicle at hand is the e-Fluence.

RENAULT Fluence Electric Cars

The front wheels tend to spin under acceleration as they struggle to contain the heft of the electric motor’s torque, and while the traction control system kicks in quickly enough to control it,

That is a seriously poor excuse for a computerized electric driveline. Surely, someone would have thought to program the driveline to know that dumping torque like that is not going to work in a stationary vehicle. I mean it’s pretty much standard for all modern cars with electric throttles.

As for swap-able battery packs:

Using an $8,000 battery pack, plus a network of $10million closely spaced swap-and-fill stations in order to retail a $15 of lump of energy is staggeringly wasteful. Then there is the considerable liability issue with disposal liability of such a huge volume of pernicious metals etc.

Commenter Richard Date and time October 24, 2011, 1:16PM

OGU Your workplace may have 4 charging points. Please tell us for what vehicles and how many employees have them.

I make no comment on iPhone, iPad, iPod or similar. Having been interested in electric Vehicles for decades I support their innovation and production. There is no ‘one solution’ to personal transport.

As to handling this sounds like rear end too heavy to me.

our test car’s rear suspension felt quite fidgety, even on smoother surfaces. The back-end has been stiffened up to deal with the extra weight of the battery pack (the rear is about 130 kilograms heavier) and it is reflected in the way the car behaves through corners, feeling notably tail-heavy when tackling twists.

The front wheels tend to spin under acceleration as they struggle to contain the heft of the electric motor’s torque, and while the traction control system kicks in quickly enough to control it,

Renault is like most car companies and is trying to make viable EV.

I question the Swap and Go business model. Hybrids are not as useless as you make out. And please, the fiction that charging is going to be only from renewable sources.

My credentials, RD in Solar Wind and Hybrid electricity generation. Whats yours?

Commenter Quantum of Solace Location Melbourne Date and time October 24, 2011, 2:48PM

@QoS

Thank you for illustrating the point I was making when I said . the opinions of skeptics that are just complaining without any knowledge on the topic.


Firstly, I said the range issue, not the range. Of course you report the range. But, highlighting inefficient driving could be done with any power train, but such criticisms aren’t done with ICE vehicles showing the anti-EV bias.

Secondly, if you knew anything at all about EV infrastructure you would know Better Place have government and business contracts all over the world. They will become the defacto standard because other companies wouldn’t be dumb enough to use a plug which cannot utilise the available network. It would be like selling a fridge with a new type of wall socket nobody has.

Compatibility is solved before you start.

Better place use only 100% renewables, so dismissing that is plain wrong.

As for charge points at work, that’s what you get when you buy the Renault. They install a charger at your work carpark and another at your home. These are 100% concrete facts and you still argue against them showing absolute ignorance combined with total bias.

Commenter Steven Location Melbourne Date and time October 24, 2011, 3:54PM

The safety issue I was referring to was not about the vehicle dynamics but the risk associated with having the batteries ‘in the boot ‘ instead of between the front and rear wheels. In a rear end collision they are more vulnerable. The cells are are arranged in series to give high voltage.

Richard has some good points. Renault, by talking a large IC car and badly modifying it hasn’t enhanced EV development.

Commenter Quantum of Solace Location Melbourne Date and time October 24, 2011, 3:59PM

Would you like to comment?

RENAULT Fluence Electric Cars

Interesting articles

Other articles of the category "Renault":

Twitter-news
Our partners
Follow us
Contact us
Our contacts

dima911@gmail.com

423360519

About this site

For all questions about advertising, please contact listed on the site.


Catalog ALL Electric Cars and hybrid/ News and Information about Electric Car and Electric Vehicle Technologies, batteries for vehicle catalog with specifications, pictures, ratings, reviews and discusssions about Electric and Hybrid cars - Green energy