The Straits Times: Electric dream closer to reality with new Renault car

The Straits Times today reported that Renault will be launching an electric car, the Fluence ZE, in February. Priced at around $164,000, the mid-sized sedan is affordable and around the same price point as the Toyota Camry. Green Drinks Singapore is quoted, story below.

Electric dream closer to reality with new Renault car

Renault’s mid-sized car set to plug into mass market by Feb

Driver keen to take the green route have an affordable electric car from French maker Renault to look forward to.

It will offer a battery-powered electric sedan here from as early as next February, at a price comparable to that of some conventional models.

Renault area operations manager (Asean and Japan) Arnaud Mourgue told The Straits Times that the Fluence ZE will cost about $164,000.

GREEN DRIVE

‘We invested €4billion (S$7 billion) on electric cars so we want to make them a commercial success.’

Renault area operations manager (Asean and Japan) Arnaud Mourgue. The mid-sized Fluence ZE will cost around $164,000.

This is with certificate of entitlement (COE) and a green vehicle rebate which trims the Additional Registration Fee, the main car tax, by 40 per cent.

This puts the Fluence ZE – a mid-sized car slightly smaller than the Toyota Camry – in the same price ballpark as mass- market petrol models like the Honda Accord, Volkswagen Passat and BMW’s entry-level 1-series. ‘We invested 4 billion euros (S$7 billion) on electric cars so we want to make them a commercial success,’ said Mr Mourgue.

Up till now, electric cars have been inaccessible to all but a handful of people. A four- month-old government test-bed programme was open only to companies, and institutions run a fleet of about 14 subcompacts.

In July, a private firm, FSG Mobility Concepts, started marketing the battery-powered Tesla Roadster two-seater sports car which starts from $520,000 (with COE and green vehicle rebate). None has been sold.

Observers said if a reasonably priced, full-sized electric car is available, people will buy – even if just for the novelty.

Mr Zafar Momin, a Nanyang Business School lecturer and former automotive expert with the Boston Consulting Group, said of the Fluence ZE: ‘I think the price will surely pull in some quick initial demand, assuming the product has reasonable specifications in terms of size and performance.’

Ms Olivia Choong, founder of environmental consultancy Green Drinks, said: ‘That’s pretty affordable for its size. I’m supportive of electric vehicles as long as the carbon emitted from generating electricity that recharges the car is lower than that of the vehicle’s tailpipe.’

Mr Mourgue said electric cars are, in the worst case, no more polluting than the most efficient conventional cars. But if power generated to charge them is from clean sources such as wind, they are substantially cleaner.

The Fluence ZE will be followed shortly by an electric van – the Kangoo ZE. In France, Renault recently secured a government tender for 15,637 such vans to be supplied over four years.

In Singapore, the van will cost around $100,000, or about the price of a bigger van like the Mercedes-Benz Vito.

By mid-2013, Renault will also launch the Zoe, an electric hatchback the size of a Volkswagen Golf.

Experts reckon it will be some time before motorists plug into the idea of going electric in a big way.

Mr Lloyd Wright, a senior transport specialist with the Asian Development Bank, said the production cost of such vehicles is still high because of a lack of economy of scale.

‘In most cases, electric vehicles are still dependent on tax incentives and government rebates. This may change over time, but in the medium term, the initial purchase cost is a barrier,’ said Mr Wright, here for Clean Energy Expo Asia.

He said the limited range of electric cars – typically less than half that of a petrol equivalent – is another hurdle, as is the time taken for charging (six to eight hours for a full charge).

Mr Wright noted the advantages of electric cars, including less air and noise pollution, lower oil dependence and overall reduced operating cost.

‘However, I should caution against undue haste in moving towards any technology,’ he said. ‘Electric vehicles should still be subject to cost-benefit analyses. In the past decade, we have seen technologies come and go out of favour.’

Image taken from Jaipal

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  • About Green Drinks Singapore

    Founded in November 2007, Green Drinks Singapore is one of more than 800 cities with a Green Drinks presence.

  • We are a non-profit environmental movement that connects academia, green businesses, activists, community and government, for knowledge sharing and collaboration opportunities. We do this by organising informal talks every last Thursday of the month, over drinks! Once in a while, we hold discussions, documentary screenings and workshops to further engage the public and participants.
  • Started in 1989 in London, the Green Drinks movement is a self-organising network that is meant to be simple and unstructured. The global site can be found at www.greendrinks.org.
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