The Renault Fluence Z.E: A Good Used Car Buy?

Your Questions, Answered: Is The Renault Fluence a Good Used Car Buy?

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The Renault Fluence Z.E: A Good Used Car Buy?

The Renault Fluence Z.E: A Good Used Car Buy?

So when Transport Evolved reader Kieron contacted us asking for our help with a used car purchase decision, we knew we had to help.  He writes.

“Going back a couple of years, I was interested in the Renault Fluence until better options came along and I ended up with a Mitsubishi i-Miev. I’ve driven it for nine months or so now and rapid charged once. For that reason, I’m looking at the prices of used Renault Fluences and thinking ‘hang on a minute, it’s getting so cheap that we could get another electric car in the family.’ But is it worth it?”

Keiron very thoughtfully included a link to a specific classified advertisement for a 2012 Renault Fluence with just over 2,000 miles on the clock being sold for a just £7,599. That’s nearly £17,500 off the price of the car when new just one year ago. And while this is one of the cheaper Fluence ZE cars we’ve seen for sale, it’s certainly not unusual: we’ve seen many Renault Fluence Z.E. cars for sale in recent months for similar prices.

So, is it worth buying one? Here’s what we think.

What’s a Fluence Z.E?

The Fluence Z.E. doesn't have a massive boot.

The Fluence Z.E. doesn’t have a massive boot.

The Renault Fluence Z.E. sedan is a five-seat family sedan designed by Renault to work alongside the battery swap system devised by Israeli firm Better Place. With a large 24 kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack located behind the rear wheels and up into the trunk, it’s technically possible to swap the Fluence Z.E’s battery pack in around five minutes at an appropriate battery swap station.

Sadly however, because Better Place declared bankruptcy earlier this year — and there are not and have never been any battery swap stations in the UK — owners of the Fluence Z.E. in the UK are stuck with the capabilities of its on-board 3.3 kilowatt charger. Worse still, there’s no rapid charge capabilities, so when it’s empty a full recharge will take 6 to 8 hours at its fastest.

The positioning of the battery pack also means the luggage carrying capabilities of the Fluence Z.E. Sedan aren’t on par with many other EVs on sale today. You’ll be able to squeeze a week’s shopping behind the battery pack in the Fluence Z.E’s extended boot — but a week’s worth of luggage for that family holiday won’t fit.

These facts — combined with the reality Renault has focused on selling its more versatile Zoe hatchback to private customers — has meant that non-fleet sales of the Fluence have been lacklustre at best, with the majority of Fluence Z.E. cars on the road being fleet cars rather than privately owned vehicles.

But with many cars now exiting  fleet use, prices of used Fluences are at really low prices, making them ideal propositions for someone wanting a competent, local-trip EV.

What are they like to drive?

Step behind the wheel of the Fluence Z.E., and it’s clear to see that the car was designed for fleet use. There’s plenty of grey plastic, smart leather trim, and a very conventional cabin layout.

The Fluence Z.E. is an executive saloon which can work very well as a second family car.

The Fluence Z.E. is an executive saloon which can work very well as a second family car.

Unlike cars like the Nissan LEAF, the Fluence Z.E. makes uses of a standard automatic transmission selector, moving between drive, reverse and park. There’s a conventional hand-operated parking brake, and the dashboard itself consists of an analogue-style speedometer, the usual warning light cluster, and in the place of the tachometer, an energy meter which lets you know if you’re using energy or regenerating energy through the car’s regenerative braking.

Pull away, and the Fluence Z.E’s 70 kilowatt electric motor will get you to town speeds far faster than most cars on the road. 0-60 is also similarly adequate, although you’ll find accelerating from 60 to 70 takes a little longer. Top speed is a little over 83 mph.

In general, the Fluence Z.E is well-behaved on the road, but because its battery pack sits behind the rear axle instead of low down under the floor as in its trendier cousin, the Renault Zoe, it can feel a little heavy at the tail end if you’re a little over-enthusiastic on cornering.

In short, the Fluence Z.E. won’t win any medals as a drivers’ car. But its general good manners on the road make it good enough as an everyday driver if you know you wont’ need to drive more than its real-world achievable range of around 70-75 miles per charge every day.

Batteries not included

One caveat — quite a big one for some car buyers — is that the Fluence Z.E., like the rest of the Renault EV family, doesn’t come with a battery pack included. Even when you buy the car second hand, Renault still owns the battery pack. And that means that you’ll have to pay Renault a monthly rental fee in order to use and drive your car.

Renault says battery rental programs are available from as little as £77 per month for a three-year rental agreement covering 6,000 miles per year. Higher mileage and shorter duration leases are available, but all leases include a lifetime battery performance guarantee and roadside assistance. That means that no matter how old your car or how many miles it has on the clock, if your battery pack’s capacity drops below the required minimum capacity in your agreement, Renault will replace the battery pack free of charge. It’ll also pick you up if your battery pack dies… or you run out of charge.

These run concurrently with Renault’s blanket 4+ warranty for the Fluence Z.E. itself. That equates to four years’ warranty from new, or 100,000 miles, whichever is soonest. Given the Fluence Z.E. can’t charge all that quickly, high mileage Fluence ZEs are few and far between, meaning you should be good for four years of warranty.

Support, service

Despite focusing on the other electric cars it sells, Renault has no plans to cease support and service for the Fluence Z.E. Like any of its other cars, Renault has a commitment to support the Fluence for the life of the car, meaning there shouldn’t be any worries about a Fluence Z.E. being treated as an obsolete vehicle for many years to come.

In terms of service, not all Renault dealers can service the Z.E., but our contact at Renault UK said that as of today, 84 dealers in the UK are fully trained to service and maintain all of the Z.E. range, including the Fluence Z.E.

…But should I buy one?

Now we’ve given you a run down on the Fluence Z.E, it’s time for us to return to Kieron’s original question. Should he buy a Fluence Z.E.? Here’s our answer:

Kieron, it sounds as if you’re already an electric car convert, and you’ve managed well for the past nine months with your Mitsubishi i-Miev. It also sounds as if you live in a multiple car household where finding a petrol or diesel car for longer-distance driving isn’t a problem, since you’ve only rapid charged once.

With that in mind, the Renault Fluence Z.E. could make an ideal second electric car for your family. But remember, as well as paying for the car itself, you will have to pay out a monthly battery rental fee in order to keep your car running and useable. Over the course of a year, that’s equivalent to £924 a year for 6,000 miles of motoring. We’re not sure if you’d want to cover more miles or not, but it’s a figure you should feel comfortable with — and one you’ll need to weigh up against existing fuel costs etc.

For that however, you will get the peace of mind in knowing that your car’s battery pack is covered for life, meaning no scary battery replacement if the battery dies in the future.

If you know you’ll cover at least 6,000 miles a year in the Fluence Z.E., and you’re happy paying the extra money every month for battery rental, this car could be a great buy for you. But if you’re looking for an EV which spends most of its time not being used — and only takes to the road for local errands and short trips — it may be more advantageous to look for another Mitsubishi i-Miev, Peugeot iOn or Citroen C-Zero of a similar age to your existing car.   These too are now on the market for as little as £8,500… if you’re prepared to wait for the right one to come along.  (We should note however that the service and repair network for these cars is likely to be not as good as for the Fluence Z.E.)

Our advice? Take one for a test-drive, ask for the car’s service history, and see if the dealer will let you do a real-world (full to empty) range test before you buy.

And good luck! We’d love to know if you end up buying it!

Do you have any advice for Kieron? Do you think the Fluence Z.E. makes an ideal second electric car? Leave your thoughts in the Comments below.




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    Good article Nikki , we have a 7800 mile fluence for sale on our web site at u00a36950 , great value , and if you have to drive through London ,No congestion charge , thats a u00a310 a day saving ! over u00a32000 a year saved with an EV . Ive been impressed with the overall qualities of the Fluence and drive is ok too , yes its not a leaf , but the heater is certainly faster.

    • Jonathan Tracey

      Hardly a ringing endorsement, ” Ive been impressed with the overall qualities of the Fluence and drive is ok too”, 🙂


        I’m just being honest ! it drives like a normal car , but not cutting edge like the Leaf is ,in my view ….I’m a rare car dealer who’s honest !

        • Jonathan Tracey

          Makes you a very rare dealer indeed 🙂


            That’s me !! Thanks !

  • Jonathan Tracey

    I really struggle with the concept of battery rental, especially if as discussed elsewhere the manufacturer could remote kill your car for non payment or breach of terms and conditions. This does nothing to help convince people that EVs are simpler and more cost effective, the fluence sounds like a good price but imagine your going to keep it for 10 years, your really paying nearly u00a317000 for 60,000 miles and you still do not own it outright at the end of the period. Battery rental may be a way to lower the sticker price but in my opinion its a false economy if you plan to sell your car on the 2nd hand market, its will add a level of confusion that will limit your pool of buyers

    • Michael Powell

      You may well be confused, JT, but the rest of us aren’t. Look, you buy the car, you least the battery for it. Very, very simple.

    • Yonatan Rocha

      Jonathan Tracey:nnI just bought one here in Israel, and I love the car, although it is a heavy car and has no possibility of storing equipment like my old Honda. It is cheap to operate, and mine came with its own battery. The engine and battery in future will be made in Germany, I have been told. The only drawback is the limited range, but it gets me to work and back adequately.

  • Mark Petersen

    just remember price is something you can negotiatenand it is likely that there is very few buyers for it so you can probably get it cheapernbut it will also mean that when time come and you want to replace it, the next likely buyer is the local scrap yardnand you have find out how to return the battery

    • Jonathan Tracey

      Also have you noticed the battery rental does not depreciate in line with the car, so your costs for that will continue at the same levels as the car turns into worthless junk. There will come a point where the battery is the most valuable part of the car and you will be paying more per month than the car is worth.

      • Michael Powell

        My goodness, are there still people who don’t understand this process?nnPerhaps you don’t realise that cars are consumable items, they degrade with age and you pay for the time you have with them. Its no use hoping that you have a valuable item left after ten or fifteen years.nnThe same apples to the battery, so it’s unreasonable for Renault to leave you with a decaying battery with worsening capacity, so they deal with keeping it functioning adequately on a contract like “Power by the Hour” a Rolls Royce process where they deal with keeping the power system going.nnIn each case the customer buys the vehicle, the company operates the power system. Its highly regarded by the airlines, and Renault were very enterprising, and sensible to offer it. Its a first for the motor industry and Renault again show why they are the most innovative car company in the world.nnBut for some people its bound to be a step too far ….. sadly. Maybe in ten years BMW will come round to doing it too. They eventually catch up.nnn

  • Fernando M

    I have bought one for 10.000 u20ac (23 km). In Spain some people have paid only 6.000 u20ac!!! It is very recommendable, ok is not perfect but is more efficient than Leaf. You only have to view ADAC range test.

  • Pingback: Renault Has Already Halted Worldwide Production of Fluence Z.E. Electric Car()

  • Shaun Edwards

    mine only gets approx 60 miles from a full charge, and trying to get renault to swap the battery is like trying to win the lotto

  • Michael Powell

    We’ve had our for a few weeks and it’s a delight. We use it first, leaving a petrol and a diesel car behind. The easy, quiet nature of the car is a great pleasure after the buzz we now realise the IC cars have. nnI’ve been test driving Porsche, Jaguar and Maerati Ghibli recently to find a European cruiser for our retirement. But the way the Fluence is going, I’m looking at getting another electric car, the Tesla S.nnIt’s a shame that more people didn’t take the plunge and buy a Fluence, but I’m really glad that I did.

  • Pedro

    just bought one new, a great deal, waiting for delivery next week; with the price difference from new to the the deal price I’ve got 20 years of battery rental 🙂 can’t wait to use it 🙂

    • Pedro

      Update: they took one and a half months to deliver a “next week” delivery… The car was delivered with water in thecrear stop light, Nav system broken, afterwards with Cruise control broken and Speed limiter also broke, and cherry on top of the cake, driver’s door fully dirty with grease and front left wheel top scratched in the metal as if they don’t car a thing about you or your car. The car was registered on February 31. After being warned it was a WRONG date. Yes, a non existing date. Decided enough is enough, give me my money back. No way ever again will I deal with Zeev or Renault.

  • TruAgape1234 .

    Renault reliability is a big no no. Don’t buy one of these.

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