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April 15, 2010

FRANCE: Renault unveils production Fluence and Kangoo EVs

Renault has unveiled the final designs of its all-electric Fluence and Kangoo Express ZE models and opened a new website for potential buyers to pre-register.

Renault has unveiled the final designs of its all-electric Fluence and Kangoo Express ZE models and opened a new website, www.renault-ze.com for potential buyers to pre-register.

“The simple act of registration allows prospective buyers to choose their electric vehicle and benefit from priority availability as soon as it comes onto the market,” the automaker said in a statement on Thursday.

It estimates that electric vehicles will account for 10% of the world market by 2020 and its alliance with Nissan is investing EUR4bn in a zero emissions programme while 2,000 staff are already working on EVs.

The C-segment Fluence ZE sedan is due to go on sale in Israel, Denmark and Europe from 2011.

The Kangoo Express will have an operational range of 160km and Renault said the electric version is as practical as the internal combustion engine models with the same carrying capacity (3 to 3.5cu m), the same payload (650kg) and the same comfort.

“On top of that, it delivers a silent ride and responsive performance, the immediate availability of torque as soon as it starts, no gear changes, low running costs and, of course, the satisfaction of owning a zero-emissions vehicle,” the automaker said.

To make EV technology available to as many buyers as possible. Renault will introduce a range of ownership plans – for the first time, the vehicle and the battery will belong to different owners.

Customers will either buy or hire their vehicle and take out a subscription that covers the hire of the battery and the availability of new mobility services.

“Renault’s aim is to market electric vehicles at prices comparable with those of a diesel-powered car of an equivalent size and equipment level. The Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) of electric vehicles will be similar to that of internal combustion-engined vehicles from launch,” the automaker said.

Renault and Better Place have committed to providing Israel and Denmark with 100,000 Fluences between now and 2016. In 2011, Fluence will be imported and distributed in Israel by Better Place; in Denmark Renault dealers will sell the EVs.

Renault will manufacture its first four EVs in four different factories, with production beginning in 2011.The vehicle previewed by the Zoe ZE show concept in Flins, near Paris, while the electric Kangoo Express will be made in Maubeuge, in northern France.

The car derived from the Twizy ZE concept will be produced at Valladolid in Spain and the electric Fluence in Bursa, Turkey.

“This will permit [us] to supply western Europe with zero-emission vehicles on a large scale thanks to the location of production plants as near as possible to the market. This will also allow [us] to benefit from the expertise of these factories with regard to productivity and quality,” Renault said.

Eventually, Renault and Nissan will both produce lithium-ion batteries on three continents – America, Asia and Europe – in order to supply the assembly plants for the forthcoming EVs from a local source.

Batteries will initially be purchased from the Nissan-NEC joint venture AESC and imported from Japan.

Factories will then gradually be established as close as possible to the vehicle production facilities. Battery production facilities are currently under development in Flins, Sunderland in the UK, Cacia, Portugal, Smyrna, Tennessee and Zama, Japan.

Renault said ‘multi-localisation will lead to secure supplies and lower logistical costs, while also permitting higher production volumes.

The alliance will eventually be to produce 475,000 batteries a year.

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