Renault unveils Better Place car

The Fluence ZE is bigger and much heavier than the conventional model, and is electronically limited to 135 km/h.

Today, Renault revealed details and specifications of the electric-powered Renault Fluence ZE, which will make its world debut in Israel, and will be the car offered by Shai Agassi's electric car venture Better Place in the coming years.

Despite lines similar to those of the conventionally-powered Fluence sold in Israel, the new car has several important structural differences.

To carry the battery in the rear, it has been stretched to 4.75 meters in length, almost 13 centimeters longer than the ordinary Fluence. The rear part has been widened to an overall width of 1.81 meters to preserve balanced proportions.

Despite the length, drivers will have to make do with a baggage compartment of only 300 liters, similar to that of the tiny Renault Clio, because of the huge volume of the battery, which weighs 250 kilograms. The car's overall weight is also not dainty: despite the absence of a benzene engine in the front, the Fluence ZE weighs 1,543 kilograms, almost 300 kilograms more than the benzene version.

Renault has not disclosed performance details, but does say that the maximum speed is electronically limited to 135 kilometers an hour.

The passenger cell is as roomy as that of the ordinary Fluence, and the car comes generously accessorized, including a built in LCD screen for a smart navigation system, double electronic climate control, and so on.

The Fluence ZE is designed to support three charging methods. The first uses an ordinary household socket (10 ampere, 16 ampere, or 200 volt), taking 6-8 hours for a full charge. The second method uses a fast industrial charger, which can charge the battery in just 30 minutes.

The third method is Better Place's battery swapping method. It is not yet known whether Better Place will allow the import of electric cars that can be charged via household sockets rather than using its exclusive battery exchange network. Incidentally, the car has charging ports on both sides.

Renault points out that it has undertaken to supply 100,000 of these cars to Better Place up to 2016. Better Place has stated several times that it has orders for tens of thousands of cars like these for fleets in Israel, and that it estimates that sales will be in the tens of thousands of units in the first full year of operation.

Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - - on April 15, 2010

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2010

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