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  • irishtimes.com - Posted: October 20, 2011 @ 11:15 am

    Why Renault might spark the Electric Car revolution

    Michael McAleer

    Renault Fluence Z.E - surprisingly normal!

    The electric car revolution clearly hasn’t happened yet in Ireland. Sales of the Nissan Leaf, a car Nissan spent significant amounts of money on launching have really failed to ignite. Nissan has sold the same amount of Leaf’s as Range Rover Sports and that isn’t a statistic that the electric car evangelists will be too proud of at all.

    But while Nissan has been standing alone to a degree (if we ignore the iMiev which wasn’t really marketed to the general public) they are to be joined by Renault in the coming months and having seen just how they have taken the car market by storm, few would discount their ability to wedge us all into electric cars.

    We spent the early part of this week in Lisbon, driving the production versions of the Renault Fluence Z.E and Kangoo Z.E, which will be the first of an array of electric cars to be launched by the French brand. We have tried prototype versions of these on various occasions but this is the first time that anyone has driven the versions which will be available to buy in Ireland in the coming months.

    Fluence Z.E - longer to accomodate batteries

    Unlike other markets in Europe, including the U.K we are well used to the Fluence and the diesel model has been selling very well since it arrives around two years ago. At 4,788mm the Z.E version is 130mm longer than the standard car so as not to reduce the luggage space. The addition of the lithium-ion batteries adds 280kg and takes up some space, so these changes do make the car more substantial, even if it has made the styling a little on the awkward side.

    This is where you plug it in

    There are some subtle styling changes compared to the car we are used to, with a new front grille design and a rear diffuser on the front bumper.

    We will bring you driving impressions and more details on the new car in next Wednesday’s Irish Times Motors.

    • Craig says:

      I don’t see pure electric cars going far until charge times, range and battery longevity are improved.
      Roll on hydrogen fuel cell hybrids.

    • Frank Barr says:

      The only problem with the Nissan Leaf is its price. Way too expensive for many who would like to switch. I have no doubt that the charging stations will come on stream especially when a few more cars are sold thus elinimating range anxiety which really should not be such a huge factor in a small country like Ireland. That is where Renault comes in. Their strategy of leasing the battery pack rather than selling it with the car will make the selling price of the car much lower and so should achieve more sales. I will certainly be buying one of the new Renaults, probably the Zoe and will keep it until I can buy a slightly used, second hand Leaf.

    • Gearoid O'Duibhir says:

      Charging stations, what charging stations ? This car goes on sale soon and there are no charging statrions available. Would love to know where they are? Think this is a pipe dream, Would you buy one and not know where to recharge? . The early adopters and innovators are sure to get screwed, also I would have to question the reliability of these new engines, does Renault have enough trained staff to cope with all the teething problems, as knowing Renault there is bound to be plenty. remember Laguna II anyone?. Think we are still a bit away from a true mass market electric car , one that is capable of regularly acheiving 250 km on one charge and have access to numerous charging stations

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