It's hardly kept it a secret, but now Renault has officially announced that it will be putting its electric car range into production come 2011.
You can read the full story on Renault's electric vehicle range in CAR’s December 2009 issue out on 18 November, in which Chris Chilton drives the mad concept cars.
So Renault will be producing all four of its electric car concepts unveiled at the 2009 Frankfurt motor show?
Yes. Up first will be a production version of the mad Twizy ZE tandem-seat city car, which will be built at Renault's Valladolid plant in Spain from 2011. Also coming in 2011 will be an electric commercial vehicle based on the Kangoo van. This will be built at Renault's Maubeuge plant in northern France, and roll down the same production line as the existing fossil fuel-powered Kangoo and Kangoo van.
Production of the Fluence ZE, an electric version of the recently revealed Fluence saloon, will also start in the first half of 2011. The car will be produced at the OYAK-Renault Bursa plant in Turkey on the same line as conventionally powered Fluences, which Renualt claims reduces costs to the EV can be sold at the same price as internal combustion models. The Fluence ZE will be launched first in Israel and Denmark in 2011.
In 2012 we'll then see an electric supermini, though it won't be quite so radical as the Zoe ZE concept. The EV supermini will be built at Renault's Flins factory on the outskirts of Paris, and is expected to account for two-thirds of Renault's electric car sales in Europe.
The Flins plant will also manufacturer and recycle the EV's batteries, and production locations in Europe have been chosen for Renault's electric vehicles so they are built close to their sales markets. Renault's EV development work will continue at its Technocentre in Guyancourt on the edge of Paris.
There are still question marks over the available infrastructure for recharging electric cars, but Renault and partner Nissan are currently signing memorandums of understanding with governments across the world to set up charging points, incentives and special parking privileges for electric cars. The pair have also signed a letter of intent with the Atomic Energy Commission and France's Strategic Investment Fund to set up a French joint venture to focus on battery research and recycling.
Renault is also planning to make its electric cars rechargeable in three ways. Either the vehicles can be charged overnight on a conventional three-point plug, 'quick-charged' with a higher-voltage supply, or the battery pack can be changed completely in under thee minutes at special swaps stations.
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