Renault Fluence review - Introduction
The first of them, the Kangoo ZE, is due in October, but it's a van, so won't be of much interest to the average motorist. The Twizy, due in February next year, will have limited appeal, too – it's little more than a four-wheeled motorcycle – good for commuters, not so good for families.
The Fluence ZE (which stands for 'Zero Emissions'), however, is a different kettle of fish altogether. Due in Summer 2012, it's a battery-powered four-door saloon that'll have space for five people and a decent boot. That means it could be a very interesting proposition for city-dwelling families.
Its most direct competitor will be the five-door Nissan Leaf hatchback – interesting, because both cars were born out of the same research and development programme undertaken by the Nissan/Renault Alliance, a programme to which each company contributed two billion Euros and 1000 engineers.
That means there are lots of technical similarities between the two. Both cars use very similar batteries and electric motors, and both will take around the same time to fully charge – eight hours from a domestic socket, or 30 minutes at a fast-charge point. Thing is, you'll be very lucky to find one of those at the moment.
However interesting the similarities of the two cars are, though, it's the differences that are more interesting. For example, the Leaf's electric motor gives you 108bhp and 207lb ft of torque, while the Fluence's gives you just 94bhp and 167lb ft. There's a very good reason for that.
By turning the motor's wick down, the Fluence can travel up to 115 miles on a single charge (depending on driving style, how high the air-con is cranked up, and a few other factors), while the Leaf can only manage 100 miles maximum. For EV buyers, that'll be far more useful than a smidgen more power.