Renault Fluence ZE looks good value but is it?
6th July 2011. At first sight, the all-electric Renault Fluence looks very good value.
It’s not available until autumn 2012 but its announced price of £17,850 OTR is the lowest price of any electric car in the UK. It’s £6,140 less than the Mitsubishi i-MiEV and it undercuts the Nissan Leaf by a whopping £8,140.
It’s also quite a lot of car for the money. Like the Leaf, it’s a five-seat C-segment family saloon in Ford Focus territory, with a top speed of 84 mph and a range of 115 miles. It produces 70kW (95hp) and 226Nm of instant torque and there are a lot of attractive features like an intelligent navigation system, state of the art electric vehicle onboard computer, automatic dual-zone climate control and even a refrigerated glove box!
The Fluence can be ordered online now. For a £20 reservation fee you get a priority test drive and priority ordering on the model you reserved. And you’ll get ‘practical advice on how to switch to the world of electric cars’.
But all is not quite what it seems. The car won’t be available for over a year and the launch price may well rise between now and then: the relative strength of the euro against sterling will be a major factor in the price next autumn.
Secondly, you don’t actually own the battery. You lease it for £75 per month. The lease period is 36 months and if you exceed the stipulated 6,000 miles a year, Renault says that excess charges will apply. That’s not many miles when the typical family saloon averages about 12,000 miles a year.
In addition, Renault has not yet announced what happens after the 36 month term, at which time you’ll have already paid £75 a month for three years, amounting to £2,700. For people who want to buy the battery outright, the final payment for the battery is, as yet, unknown. The battery is the most expensive component of an electric vehicle’s price so it may still command a significant price even after three years’ use.
On the other hand, Renault says, most owners will simply extend the lease beyond three years – which may cost less than the initial £75 per month – but Renault have not confirmed this.
So the Renault Fluence may not turn out to be the bargain it first appears to be. But Renault has a lot riding on its electric car range. It is relying more heavily than any other major manufacturer on the public’s acceptance of electric vehicles so it may well offer its electric cars at a keener price than its rivals.
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