Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Renault Fluence EZ

As we have written before, luxury all electric Tesla Roadster, has been back on the Singapore roads this summer. In early 2011, Tesla Motors has closed up its recently opened office in Singapore after their disappointment with the lack of state support for their green cars here. Unfortunately, this private attempt by FSG Mobility Concepts has also not been very successful to sell this 520,000 SGD car (with COE and green vehicle rebate) since no car was sold up to now. It is not hard to see that this price tag will fail to sell a car in Singapore. I hope Tesla's more mass market Model S will have success in Singapore.

At a first glance, Singapore may look like an ideal place for all electric cars since all the distances covered in this city state are within 60 km at most and still within an advanced city infrastructure. Unfortunately, there are some challenges like the place to charge the car (majority live in apartments and park in public housing or condominium parking lots) and the necessity to use energy sucking air conditioning unit under tropical skies all over the year. Still, a good and reasonably priced vehicle would find its way into the island. maybe starting from enthusiastic drivers with a private garage and then by others if electricity charging infrastructure is put in place.

Well Renault, French car maker, seems to have a promising all electrical car with a potential to hit the roads here: The Renault Fluence Z.E. This is an upcoming electric version of the Renault Fluence, part of the Renault Z.E. program of battery electric vehicles. It was unveiled by Renault at the 2009 Frankfurt Motor Show. The Fluence Z.E. will be the first electric car slated to be operational within the Better Place battery switch network.[1]

The good news is that according to Renault's Asean and Japan Area Operations Manager Arnauld Mourgue, the vehicle will cost 164,000 SGD with COE and a green vehicle rebate which trims the tax by 40%:

"This puts the Fluence Z.E. - a mid-sized car slightly smaller than the Toyota Camry - in same price ballpark as mass market petrol models like the Honda Accord, Wolkswagen Passat and BMW's entry level 1-Series."[2]

Well, if you are not familiar with Singapore, you may be wondering how the hell a 164,000 SGD (around 120,000 USD) car can be a mass market. Passat or BMW 1-Series are entry level cars lol :D  Anyway, there is a COE here to limit car ownership in this small city state. Add this a tax then simple cars go from 60,000 SGD+.

Renault Fluence ZE All Electric
Renault Fluence ZE All Electric
The car has a 250 kg lithium-ion battery and can be charged in 6-8 hours from standard 220 V power source or in 30 minutes in a fast charging station of 400V. The vehicle also has a quick drop system and its used battery can be swapped by a charged one in a battery change station:

"Better Place and Renault announced the Fluence Z.E. will be the first modern electric car with a swappable battery available on the Better Place electric vehicle network with (QuickDrop) battery swapping technology. Battery switching or swapping is a technology that enables the driver to swap a depleted battery with a fully charged one by going through a battery switch station. In a demonstration with electric taxi cabs run in Tokyo until the end of 2010, the trial battery switch station allowed drivers to exchange their car's depleted battery pack for a 100 miles (160 km) fully recharged one in 59.1 seconds on average. In August 2010 Better Place announced a non-binding order of 100,000 Renault Fluence ZE and four months later Better Place claimed to have sold 70,000 cars from that order, a year away from the public launch of the Better Place network.[1]"

It may feel strange to swap a 250 kg battery since it feels like changing the empty petrol tank with a full one instead of filling it. But 60 seconds change time is great and very implementable in Singapore where less than a dozen of these stations would probably serve the entire island.

If you want better news, The Fluence ZE will be followed by an electric van - The Kangroo ZE and in Singapore this vehicle would cost even less, $100,000.

[1] -  The Renault Fluence Z.E.
[2] - Electric Dream closer to reality, The Straits Times

No comments:

Post a Comment