Renault Fluence review - Verdict
With the Leaf, you pay £25,990 to own the car and the batteries outright. With the Fluence, though, you buy the car for £17,850, but you pay a monthly charge to lease the battery.
This arrangement, says Renault, will provide customers with more peace of mind, because their battery will be replaced free of charge when it reaches the end of its useable lifespan, and they'll also be able to get a battery upgrade when the technology improves.
It also brings the purchase price down, and might help residual values.
However, whether it'll work out cheaper than the Leaf in the long run will depend on how much you use it. At the moment, the only leasing price Renault is quoting stands at £75 per month on a three-year/6000-mile per year agreement. On that basis, you'd still have paid less than Leaf buyers after five years of use.
However, 6000 miles a year isn't much, and we don't yet know how much the leasing rate will be if you want to do more. Also, as well as the range-anxiety that many EV drivers suffer from, you'll also have the added worry of having to stick to your mileage limit.
That range-anxiety point is still the Fluence's biggest limiting factor, as it is with all pure EVs. Even if you're never left stranded due to a flat battery, the likelihood is that you'll always worry about it.
It also means that all your journeys will have to be short and pre-planned, and you'll need another car for longer trips. Still, if your commute is short and your driving habits are sufficiently regimented, the Fluence might well fit your lifestyle.
If it does, we think you'll absolutely love it. For most people, though, there's an argument that range-extending EVs such as the Vauxhall Ampera are a better, more flexible solution to electric motoring.
What Car? says