Renault’s fleet of electric vehicles is a little smaller, now that the company has quietly discontinued the Renault Fluence ZE, but it’s easy to see why the company took that action.
“Don’t put all your eggs in one basket” could be the reason for the declining chicken hatchings in an increasingly violent world, but also does much to explain why a number of electric vehicles simply haven’t made it. Take, for example, Fisker Automotive, whose heavy reliance on A123 Systems doomed it to failure once the battery maker failed.
It seems that Renault’s heavy investment into Better Place’s electric vehicle battery swapping model has led to the same failure. Better Place had some good ideas, and it seemed that even Tesla Motors had an interest in battery-swapping, which would reduce “recharge” times to less than ten minutes. Success, however, was not on Better Place’s side, and the company declared bankruptcy in May of last year. When this news became public, Renault immediately stopped production of the Fluence ZE, even the fixed-battery versions.
In spite of sister Nissan Leaf’s worldwide success, Renault’s array of electric vehicles haven’t been so impressive. The Renault Fluence ZE, for example, just hasn’t been selling enough to justify production, and a lot of effort has gone into building a battery-swappable version of the car, but without a battery-swapping company, like Better Place, to back it up, then what’s the point?
I’m sure Renault will continue to service existing Renault Fluence ZE owners, who happen to love the car, but there won’t be any more in production. Renault hasn’t given up on the rest of its electric vehicle fleet, however, and is still producing and selling enough of the ZOE, Kangoo, and the Twizy. Interestingly, the Renault Twizy is the best-selling electric vehicle in Europe. The Fluence ZE will live on, as a platform, in a joint electric vehicle project with Samsung in South Korea.