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Mike Stevens | Apr 16, 2010

RENAULT has unveiled the production version of the 2011 Renault Fluence Z.E. electric vehicle today, following the unveiling of the sporty looking concept late last year.

The Fluence Z.E. will go on sale in Denmark and Israel next year, with both Renault and partner Better Place taking pre-orders now - although pricing has yet to be revealed.

Speaking with The Motor Report today, Renault Australia Managing Director Rudi Koenig said that although the 'regular' Fluence will arrive this year, Government stalling on an electric vehicle policy means that Fluence Z.E's future in Australia is unclear.

"The Fluence is indeed included in Renault Australia’s product plans, and we are well on track to launch it later this year. As for the ZE version, this is not as clear," Mr Koenig said.

"In a growing number of overseas markets government is being very proactive in facilitating the early and effective adoption of new technologies, especially those which support emerging social consciousness and sustainability issues such as clean energy."

He said that although some cities and states in Australia have partnered with manufacturers and companies like Better Place Australia, the lack of a centralised policy in Australia supporting the deployment of EV infrastructure will inhibit the introduction of electric vehicles.

"I would anticipate that globally, we will most likely see demand outstrip initial supply resulting in manufacturers giving priority to those markets where government policy is proactive and supportive," Mr Koenig added.

A TMR poll late last year showed that, of 1009 respondents, 44 percent of motorists would consider the purchase of an electric vehicle if priced competitively.

Renault expects to boost the Fluence Z.E's appeal by offering the vehicle for either purchase or lease, while the battery pack - which can cost up to $16,000 - will be leased for a monthly fee only. This approach will ensure that the initial cost to the buyer or lease-holder is significantly lower than it would otherwise be.

Renault will also offer a Z.E. version of the Kangoo Express van, although this too is not expected to get an Australian debut in the foreseeable future.

Both vehicles will offer a driving range of about 160km, with the battery capable of being fully recharged in six to eight hours from a regular wall socket, or 30 minutes from a specialised charging station.

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