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back to article Renault Fluence ZE

With Renault-Nissan now having splurged €4bn (£3.4bn) on its e-car projects, it’s about time we saw some iron beyond the frankly rather too US-oriented Leaf. That time has now arrived: Renault officially unveiled the Fluence in Lisbon last week. Renault Fluence ZE e-car The Fluence won’t be the first Renault e-car we see in …

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It looks like a real car too

The thought of silent motoring instead of the rattle and thrum of a diesel.

And for once this looks like a real car too instead of a frankly stupid bubble on wheels.

Shame that electric cars will always be a niche though and not mainstream because of the range and the charging times.

Nice though, I'd have one. Until hydrogen comes along anyway.

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Looks like a real car...

...most notably a really, really boringly styled one.

And because of that, I'd disagree re: US statement...*this* car should be for the states, and we'll keep the leaf.

It's almost as if they purposely tried to make it look as totally normal as possible, and went too far.

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Anonymous Coward

Renault Flatulence more like.

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Blimey! This may *just* work.

I'm always interested to read about new e-cars - and the comments they garner on El Reg. But, despite the fact that those of a Clarkson disposition shudder at the thought, we all know that fossil fuels will run out and an alternative needs to gain a foothold now, while there's still time for development. Car manufacturers need to get a decent, well-priced e-car out to the masses if we don't want to revert back to horses, and they also need, at least, to have a standard for battery type/connection to enable quick swaps.

Thumbs up to Renault for this one. At least they've shown they've got the bottle tomake a decent stab.

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What do you think is being burnt to push 30A down a copper cable hundreds of miles long into your house so you can charge the car? Wind? That unreliable, extremely-low-power, subsidised because it's carbon-friendly (which makes us keep to some international agreements), waste of time? No. Fossil fuels. We *aim* to make fossil fuels provide only 90% of our electricity within the next decade. We're currently hovering at about 96%. If the fossil fuels run out, we won't have the infrastructure to even cope with electric cars at all and they'd probably be banned because of their inefficiency and the strain they would put on the grid.

Electric cars are possibly one of the worst ideas for "saving energy" possible. Yes, YOU save energy. For a little while. And pay through the nose to do so. And that's only until power prices rise because of the ludicrous power demands that even one electric car puts on a household (peak demand is what costs money, not how much we use in the middle of the night, but are you always ONLY going to drive 50 miles away, 50 miles back and then leave it literally all night before you can do anything again?). And until you work out just how much lithium and copper you've used to create the thing in the first place (and it's charging stations, etc.) and how often you have to have those replaced. Did you *hear* how much that battery pack weighs? And it's almost solid lithium and needs to be changed every few years if you don't want your range to be cut in half.

The problem with finding a decent, well-priced e-car is that there can be no such thing at the moment, and not likely to be for a long time. Almost all e-car batteries use standard laptop-size Lithium modules that cost something like 50% of the price of the car - and that's the stupidly heavy part that you would have to be constantly swapping for new ones with some sort of station set up to lift hundreds of kilos of lithium out of every car that visits and doing something with it (charging it or shipping it somewhere for recycling).

Electric cars haven't progressed beyond the milk-floats of the 60's that ran on lead-acid and solved most of the major problems of doing so. Don't rely on them to provide you any sort of future, especially when the subsidies start to disappear and the country's peak-energy goes mad because of those few people who DO need to charge them during the day (imagine every appliance, heater, cooker and bulb in your house being turned on *constantly* for hours and hours on end and you get some idea of what those cars pull when they are charging with the most efficient charger possible today).

Hydrogen-based cars were sensible, but still have problems of their own. Electric cars are really a green-fad item until people work out that, actually, they create more problems than they solve. Yeah, it sounds cool that you have an electric car, but the one that the milkman's been driving for the last 50 years is probably more environmentally sound.

And, like I said, if fuel becomes short, your electricity prices sky-rocket even faster and you probably would find an e-car even worse value than just putting some petrol in the car itself. And at least you'd get a good 450 miles out of it in one hit.

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"Hydrogen-based cars were sensible, but still have problems of their own."

Yes, Like the fact that Commercial Hydrogen production uses natural Gas (*GASP!* a fossil fuel!)

They don't use electrolysis to crack it out of water, as this is highly inefficient.

Even if they DID use electricity to crack H from O, where would this electricity come from? That's right, Fossil Fuel Power stations, and it would use a SHIT load more electricity that just charging a battery directly..

That is not to say that I don't agree with you. I think Electric-only cars at the moment are not much cop as all-purpose vehicles due to the low range and long charging times.

Hydro may well be the future if they can fix the inefficiency issues of electrolysis... You may end up seeing Wind Turbines and Solar Panels on the roofs of Petrol stations that are there for the purpose of generating Hydrogen from tap water, or something else entirely may pop up on the horizon.

Personally I think Serial Hybrids (Or E-REVs as the marketing droids refer to them as) like the Chevvy/Vauxhaul/Opel Volt/Ampera and the Fisker Karma are the way forward (For Now). But that's just me.

Ideally they should just fix public transport so that it is useful for more than just Londoners who don't know they're born.

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bep

Thank you for the cut and paste...

did you even read the review? Did you miss the part about the swap-out battery pack? You don't own it, you don't have to replace it, and they can take advantage of improvements to battery technology without redesigning the whole car. Since the car ultimately uses the grid, you can then concentrate your efforts on gradually moving electricity production to more sustainable sources. You don't have to do this overnight, you just have to make progress. A revolution isn't possible, or even necessary, but progress is.

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FAIL

Urrrm

Did you read the article? It also said that the swap out stations were unlikely to make it to the UK except in larger Renault dealers. So, that's one problem. The other is, lacking swap out stations, where do I charge the batteries?

Like an awful lot of people, I don't have a drive or a garage, and often, I can't park within 100m of my house.... I'm probably not alone in this.

So, while we concentrate on sustainable electricity, we'd also better concentrate on providing millions of roadside charging stations. Yup, that'll be really entertaining for everyone digging up the roads while all that cable is laid.

I'm afraid I remain unconvinced...

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@Lee

Thanks for the rather obvious lecture on where electricity comes from. Working for an energy company I may have missed that bit!

Seriously, though, as others in this forum have mentioned, there needs to be some sort of evolution and/or development. When fossil fuels DO run out, where will we get electricity from? The only options currently are 'alternative' and, althought not hugely efficient at the moment, these methods are also developing. So, ten years from now, hydo/wind/solar solutions will be vastly better than they are now and perhaps more capable of providing a real solution.

Or, we can take your lead and eschew the most obvious forward path and then stumble around in the dark when the fuel runs out.....

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10 years from now, renewables will make up just 10% of capacity if we even manage to stick to what we've agreed to (and that doesn't mean 10% of what we need - peak energy times are the problem - 10% of our power means NOTHING if it's delivered at the wrong time or only intermittently).

When fossil fuels run out, how do you think you'll be able to MAKE those solar panels, electric cars etc. and transport them? It's a much bigger problem than "Oh, we'll just move onto something else" - literally catastrophic. And that's why pissing about WASTING MORE ENERGY by having incredibly inefficient electric cars (how much coal do you need to burn to make them move a mile, including production and servicing costs?) and all their requirements is actually just making the problem worse - not to mention driving us closer to shortage in plastics and rare-earth materials (Lithium, etc.).

The options? Nuclear. Cheap, simple, well-understood, hugely powerful (makes up the majority of current world production) at the (current) expense of only a single material (which is estimated to last longer than the oil), which can be recycled several times and doesn't pollute the atmosphere, and whose next generation of plants won't even burn that up (fusion is scientifically possible today and has a virtually infinite supply of raw material available to us today too).

But, no, apparently we have to scrap all our nuclear and have things be sloshed about by the waves, gently blown by the wind and slightly heated by the sun instead. You know why? Carbon credits, which we have signed up to, and which we HAVE to now spend money on to make us look go at actual energy-production (and, ironically, the environment's) expense.

Alternative fuels are currently shite. They can't cope with 10% of current demand if you add them all together (which means one fairly-modern bog-standard nuclear plant could actually outpace the entire investment and deployment of all renewable energy in the UK for the last 50 years). They won't cope with any rise required for electric cars and other shite (and, yes, RISE in demand). They also provide more problems than they solve because nuclear plants can be turned on, shut down and powered down. Wind, wave and solar work on their own schedules which are almost opposite to peak demands and have inherently transport/storage costs.

The renewable energy market is currently a subsidised money-grab for private firms and nothing more. We'll meet our carbon targets and STILL not be generating enough electricity by those methods to do anything useful on a national scale (while demand will still rise, possibly exponentially). They aren't providing anything near the existing production methods which we

have been trying to scrap for 100 years.

Sod wind, wave, solar. They just don't provide enough Watts per metre to ever be practical on such a large scale, even with ideal components. Replace them all, and whatever coal/oil plants we have, with a handful of nuclear stations and not have to worry about energy for the next 50 years or so at all.

But apparently, that's not "politically compatible" (i.e. no-one wants to live next to a nuclear plant, whereas fields of huge, creaking, noisy, spinning turbines that can take out your house if their brakes fail are just fine overhead).

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Errmm

I seriously don't understand the point of these electric cars

Arent the materials for the batteries sourced from some mines in South America? and the electricity to charge them comes from old fossil fuel burning power stations?

So its just taking the pollution from the car and adding it somewhere else, its not solving a problem at all?

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While not perfect

Fossil fuels are running out so not a long term solution. It's true that a large part of electricity is still generated by fossil fuel but A electricity can be generated from other, cleaner sources and B generating energy in power plant is more efficient and cleaner that thousands of individual car engines doing the same.

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Fossile fuels have been running out for the past 60 years, so I think it's about time to drop that argument.

Especially since there are some scientists that have managed to make fuel from algae, so fuel is here to stay.

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MJI
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I mis read as

Flatulence.

£70 a month battery leasing (I have rough £160 PM fuel bill)

How much to charge it though?

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Anonymous Coward

Same

Methane powered, I was thinking.

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MJI
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Methane

Well mine is propane powered and costs me about £30 more a month than the electric car would.

I rough guessed on other figures to £15 a week in electric plus battery leasing is not much less a week than I pay in gas.

And if I fitted a new vapouriser I reckon I could beat it.

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Anonymous Coward

500 miles per month is 5x20kw charges

So 100Kwh *20p= £20 per month??

Minus efficiency loses of ?

I wonder if you could plug a solar system into this. You'd need a 20KWh/2.5 hours sun per day= 8KWhr solar power system to on average charge it once per day.

A 22KWhr battery pack costs about 5000 euros

http://www.ev-power.eu/index.php?p=p_46&sName=lifeypo4-cells-%283.2v%29

You would probably need two if you used solar power and drove at the same time.

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Joke

Bit too close to the Renault Flatulence. Which is ironic given it's a zero emissions car...

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Range

No doubt you can get over 100 miles from a 'tank' by driving at a steady 90kph, but check out that Android phone, which seems to indicate a more realistic range of under 40 miles. Even assuming this battery swap idea would work (are you happy to swap the battery from your shiny new vehicle for one that's been round the clock a couple of times?), what are the odds of finding a Renault swap centre every 40 miles along your route?

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(Written by Reg staff)

Re: Range

Since you don't own the battery, it shouldn't matter what gets swapped with what, as long as it works.

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"as long as it works"

Precisely my point. Well done to Renault for recognising the problem and leasing the battery, but you're still in danger of swapping your shiny new one for a clapped out battery that holds a fraction of the charge.

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Anonymous Coward

The swap station

The swap station would know. Shai Agassi's idea was that you'd get cut-rate leasing if you are able to use degraded batteries.

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Anonymous Coward

How far?

The piccy shows 85% Charge and 33miles until flat.

In other words pretty useless range then.

Even 100miles range is far too short for many a commute these days.

Try asking for a recharging point at work in these financially constrained times.

Anon, as my PHB boss has a Prius.

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FAIL

Too expensive to run.

50-mile round trip per day=1100 miles a month.

At 40mpg, and £1.35 a litre, that's about £170/month.

Assuming the round trip pretty well flattens the battery, that's 22kWh/day, or (22 working days) = 484 kWh/month, at 15p/unit that's about £70 in juice.

Plus the £120/month for the battery (as we're doing over 13kMiles a year) the total cost is £210.

You could re-do the calculations for a VW BlueMotion and cut the fossil fuel cost even further. And that 'leccy isn't getting any cheaper either.

Pity......

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(Written by Reg staff)

Re: Too expensive to run.

True, but if you think petrol will stay at £1.35 a litre when the economy (eventually) picks up, you're going to be in for a shock. *That's* when leccy becomes cost-effective, but you're right, it's not there yet.

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But leccy won't stay where it is either if the current round of providers keep putting the prices up by 15-20% every 6months!

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(Written by Reg staff)

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True. We have to get used to rising energy costs no matter what. Strewth, some of you lot might even have to turn a few of your computers off.

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Cheaper option

LPG:

Currently around 75p/l and you can convert almost any petrol car for around £1k.

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Anonymous Coward

Petrol at 1.35 litre includes VAT at 20% and Fuel duty, domestic electricity is VATed at a lower rate and no duty. But for how long? If goverment isn't getting money from taxing petrol it will look for it elsewhere.

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I would expect electricity to go up by at least as much as a percentage of todays cost as diesel. One of the reasons for that is that pretty much all of your electricity bill is energy cost, whereas most of your diesel bill is tax. The tax element of your electricity bill is more likely to increase in the future due to renewables obligaions, feed-in tariffs and so on.

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You think LPG won't get taxed more as it becomes more popular?

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Leccy will go up along with fossil fuels

The flaw in the reasoning is that fossil fuels are used to produce most electricity in the UK and the US. The French produce about 75-80% of their juice with nuclear power, so their leccy prices aren't necessarily coupled with the price of oil, but Brits and Yankees aren't so lucky.

So the cost of recharge *will* go up is gas prices increase.

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MJI
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LPG

Installs are even less, a load done I know of for under £700 on 6 cylinder cars.

All good quality installs as well.

Why so cheap?

DIY installs.

Do it yourself for a better install.

Mine is DIY sequential gas injection and has been on LPG for well over 5 years.

No rushing to get it done.

Dismantle and drill the jets properly, there is even an exchange inlet manifold going around.

Mine took 4 weekends so I did not rush.

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MJI
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LPG tax

Can't put it too high otherwise we will start decanting from heating bottles or buying heating gas - which is totally indistinguishable from autogas.

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Meh

A third of the cost

I'm working out that it's about £7.50 in lecky charges for a full "tank" to do (say) 100 miles.

I'm also working out that to get that same range in my current car (40mpg-ish on average) is about £14.50 on today's prices, so double the price.

But factor in the battery leasing costs and my finger in the air guess is the cut-off is you need to be commuting 50miles per business day before it makes any sense.

You also don't end up with a car that's restricted to a 100mile radius from your house (50 if you want to get back again that same day).

Lecky cars are certainly the future, but batteries aren't the powerstation answer. They simply can't hold enough or charge fast enough. I'd be amazed if the national grid's infrastructure were in a position to cope with the demand if we started switching too.

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Anonymous Coward

Night

At night they can't get people to use enough electricity. There's loads of spare capacity.

If only there were something that could use a stonking amount of electricity at night, allowing maximum use of generation and distribution infrastructure and encouraging consumers to shift to TOU tariffs and shift much of their other consumption off-peak...

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Coat

I can't be the only one...

who misread the name as Flatulence?

Or maybe that's being held back for the gas powered version?

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Range

If it'll do 100 miles on a charge, why does the screen shot show 89% charge and an estimated range of 33.6 miles?

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At least it wasn't named ZEFluence ...

Up there with the Audi E-Tron ...

... where etron translates as 'turd' in French

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Anonymous Coward

@ Range

"If it'll do 100 miles on a charge, why does the screen shot show 89% charge and an estimated range of 33.6 miles?"

Maybe the author is angling for a job on TopGear?

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Say what?

"[...] we Brits don’t buy small four-door cars [...]"

A quick look on the road would prove otherwise. Tons of four door Nissan Micra, Peugeot 106, Peugeot 107, Citroen Saxo, Daewoo (yes, at the time of manufacture they were still Daewoo) Matiz and the list goes on.

What I *think* you meant is, we don't buy many saloon cars. Four doors or otherwise (although a two door saloon, arguably, is not a saloon, but a coupe). A quick look on the road will prove that one right.

Besides, the Megane/Fluence is hardly in the "small" car class. Not unless you are using the American scale - and even there I believe it would be in the "compact" class - not small.

Confusing from every angle you look at.

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Boffin

What

The cars you mention are either 3-door or 5-door hatchbacks - very popular in the UK, not so much in the States.

The Renault Fluence is a 4-door saloon - a popular form factor in the States but relatively rare over here. Most of the 4-doors you see here are executive and luxury saloons, but the Fluence fits more into the small family car class (dominated in the UK by 5-door hatchbacks such as the Ford Focus and VW Golf).

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FAIL

Epic count fail

"A quick look on the road would prove otherwise. Tons of four door Nissan Micra, Peugeot 106, Peugeot 107, Citroen Saxo, Daewoo (yes, at the time of manufacture they were still Daewoo) Matiz and the list goes on."

Epic fail on your part.

I have never seen a 4 door Micra, 106, 107, Saxo or Matiz.

I have seen a 4 door Micra, but this was a Japanese import.

Methinks you mean 5 door, where the hatchback is the 5th door. This is official designation for hatchback cars.

The point the writer was making was that we don't buy 4 door cars - which due to being an even number are usually saloons (although technically the upcoming Hyundai Veloster hatchback coupe will be a 4 door....).

The UK does not buy 4 door cars, that is why the likes of the Renault Fluence diesel, 4 door Focuses, Mondeos, Astras etc. are not sold here. They DO however sell 5 door hatchbacks.

Ireland is a bigger market for 4 door cars, as is China (who get weird variants such as a 4 door Citroen C4). People in the UK have been brainwashed to believe that 4 door cars have to be German.

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JDX
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re:we all know that fossil fuels will run out

Good luck charging your car when that happens.

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Anonymous Coward

What?

Ever heard of nuclear, wind, wave, hydro-electric power? It's not a coincidence that Renault is French and France produces 90-odd % of it's domestic electricity from nuclear generation.

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This post has been deleted by its author

From the author

"Nissan Micra, Peugeot 106, Peugeot 107, Citroen Saxo"

Those would all be small 3/5 door cars.

Compare UK sales of the VW Golf and Bora. I rest my case. The Brits don't buy small saloons.

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"Rather too-US oriented"?

"the frankly rather too US-oriented Leaf"

Reading the Leaf's review -- how is that car 'rather US-oriented' ? Do tell. Maybe it's got more cupholders compared to European cars?

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From the author

Folks, that screen grab of the smartphone app is a stock image for illustrative purposeds, not one I took myself. Renault weren't about to let us all log into their test fleet vehicles at the hotel and start messing with charge cycles.

I'm guessing the app was connected to a Twizy at the time, it has a much smaller battery so those numbers would make sense in that context.

Al

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Anonymous Coward

noise

I'm interested in the way electric cars are described as silent; you don't have to go very fast in many petrol cars before the engine is only a minor contributor to the overall noise level.

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