Not many would remember Renault as the world pioneer as far as electric cars go in India. Its alliance with Nissan Motors has boosted its prospect for the electric car business wherein Nissan makes the Leaf and Renault makes the Fluence ZE. Its still not sure if the Nissan Leaf would ever be to India however chances of the Fluence ZE making it to India are bright. Especially after the launch of the Renault Fluence in India some days back. Some months back Renault showcased the Renault Twizy, which was an all electric car at an auto show. However it would be the Renault Fluence ZE in India which is the harbinger of electric cars from the French manufacturer, save for the Mahindra Reva, which is a homegrown product.
The Renault Fluence ZE in India would look very much the same as the petrol or diesel sipping car. However ultra light alloy wheels would make a vast difference to the car’s potentials. Its cabin or boot space aren’t compromised either with the lithium-ion battery combination pack making it to the package. The battery pack which weighs in as much as the chassis of the Jaguar XKR-S sits under the rear seats. The worst part is that Renault doesn’t plan to sell these batteries and buyers would have to lease them from the company. In short the Renault Fluence ZE would cost the same to run and buy as a conventional fuelled car. The car owner can swap the batteries for a new set once they finish their lifecycle. The interiors would be the same save for a fuel gauge which would be replaced by the charge indicator. The trip computer would also give the DTE or Distance To Empty. The engine unit however is replaced by a mess of complex wires and a controller unit.
There is an in-built brake energy recuperation system which works as an electricity regeneration system with regenerative braking thrown in. However due to this, it is said that brake feel is almost dead and braking techniques would have to be relearnt to make way for the dead feel. Due to the added weight of the batteries, this car is said to have a not so keen handling as also the ride quality suffers. However this would be sorted out before the car actually goes into production. It is also said that some tweaks to adjust or rather reduce its NVH would be made. Being an electric motor means that much of the wind noise and other parnaphelia are transferred directly into the cabin. However sorting out the NVH means that this car would ply on more weight which may reduce its real world driving range of 160 kilometers. The air conditioning system uses an electrical compressor. The fuel efficiency of this Renault Fluence ZE in India would depend on the driving habits of the driver plus the terrain on which it is driven. The driving range would be increased based on the manner in which braking would top up the batteries. Lifting your foot off the accelerator would yield to deceleration as also brake energy recuperation which is a good thing for the battery charging point. Coasting on a road would never be the Fluence’s forte. The battery pack can be actually charged via the regular charging points at home or work. There is a special charging system which has been developed by Renault themselves. This system can get the charging to be completed in a cool 30 minutes. There is also another QuickDrop option where the car is driven to an equivalent of a petrol pump. A mechanized system rises from a chamber in the specified bay. This system removes the battery pack which is located underneath the car and replaces it with a fresh one. This entire process is completed in just under 5 minutes.
In France, there are many public parking areas which have a public charging point attached to them. This enables easy charging of the Fluence ZE’s batteries. There are many Fast Charge points which provide for additional 50 kms range in just a matter of 3 minutes. The usual charging point time is a lengthy 6-8 hours time. A Wall Box fixed into the garage will also take approximately half an hour to fully ensure that the Fluence ZE is fully charged. The Renault’s internal combustion engine or ICE provides for high torque which ensures that there is accessible power throughout the rev range. There are many safety features provided in this car which enable it to come out as one of the safest electric vehicles in its class and across the world.
Chances of the Renault Fluence ZE coming into India is now a good possibility since the Indian Government finally seems to have woken up and taken the charge of ensuring that electric or rather hybrid vehicles see more and more homes. Pricing aren’t being revealed at this time since the Fluence ZE is yet to be put into production even in France. However the expected Renault Fluence ZE price in India would be approximately around the Rs 40 lakhs mark.