Renault prepares for new electric Fluence launch

Alongside partner Nissan, Renault will set up research offices in Silicon Valley in preparation for the launch of four new electric vehicles in the next two years.

Renault says the new offices, at the heart of the US technology and electronics industry, will give Renault a lead in the electric car industry, according to CEO Carlos Ghosn.

"Having a greater footprint in one of the world’s headquarters for clean tech research will extend our lead further,” he explained, after announcing the move.

Renault will launch three electric cars and a van in the next few years. It is hoped the new centre will help to develop technology such as the quick battery changing system used in the new Renault Fluence saloon.

The technology allows an empty battery to be changed in a shorter time than it takes to fill up a car with petrol or diesel and removes the need to wait six to eight hours for an electric car to recharge.

However, the technology is only available in specialised Renault servicing stations, which are expensive to build and still relatively rare in the UK and Europe.

However, the Fluence will represent the first all-electric saloon sold in the UK when it arrives in 2012.

Prices for the electric Fluence have not been announced by Renault, but the car will qualify for the government’s plug-in grant when it arrives.

It will be part of a four-strong range, including the compact Renault Zoe supermini, quirky Renault Twizy mobility solution and Renault Kangoo Z.E. van – a rival to the soon-to-arrive Ford Transit Connect Electric.

Renault will use the site, alongside Nissan, to develop other green technology such as a touch screen interface showing maps of recharging stations, energy consumption and even advice on getting the best economy out of the battery life.