Sunday, January 19, 2014

Renault Halts Production of Fluence Z.E. Electric Car

Renault will delay the introduction of the Fluence ZE electric car in Australia to allow more time to roll out necessary infrastructure.
Better Place battery-swap stations up to 12 months off, Renault postpones Fluence ZE
Renault SA (Euronext: RNO) has halted production of its electric car, the Fluence ZE and will close its production line in Turkey, foreign media sources report. The Fluence ZE was originally designed and produced, at an investment of hundreds of millions of euros, including the replaceable battery, for Better Place. The car also had a version with a permanent rechargeable battery.
Look at Renault’s official website, and you’ll still see the Fluence Z.E. for sale alongside Renault’s three other plug-in cars. But, we’re told, while “there are a small number of vehicles still for sale,” Renault stopped producing the Fluence Z.E. for the European market in mid-November.
But after some digging, it seems the car in question wasn’t actually the Renault Fluence Z.E: it was the Samsung SM3 Z.E., a rebadged Renault Fluence Z.E. produced and sold in South Korea under license by Renault-Samsung Motors. The car, which entered production at Samsung’s Busan factory in October last year, does in fact come as standard with the same 43 kilowatt Chameleon charger found in Renault’s Zoe EV. European-market Fluence Z.E. cars only shipped with a a measly 3.3 kilowatt onboard ‘type 2′ charger.
Industry sources estimate that Renault's Better Place misadventure, including development of the Fluence ZE, establishment of the production line with a capacity of tens of thousands of cars a year, and the establishment of a production for the car's battery, cost the company several hundred millions euros. In addition, Better Place's investors lost $800 million.
Israel's Renault importer Carasso Motors Ltd. (TASE: CRSO) says that Renault will continue supporting Fluence ZE cars already sold in Israel. Industry experts believe, however, that the car will become a collectors' item within a few years, because of the limited number of cars produced.