Australia is delaying indefinitely the local launch of the Renault Fluence Z.E. until charge-partner Better Place establishes a broader and more viable charging and battery-swapping network.
is working globally with Better Place to launch the Fluence Z.E. in Israel and Denmark, with Australia to follow.
“In order to allow for a later rollout of infrastructure in Australia, the respective global head offices have made the decision to postpone the Australian launch, which was originally planned for late 2012,” Renault Australia says in a statement.
“Renault Australia continues to work towards the introduction of zero-emission vehicles. Further announcements will be made in due course.”
Renault said in June 2011 that the Fluence Z.E. would be available in the capitol city of Canberra during second-quarter 2012, before going on sale across the country in the year’s final quarter.
The plan called for an infrastructure of stations that would allow owners to either recharge the car or swap its depleted battery for a fully powered one.
A Better Place spokeswoman tells the CarAdvice website that holdups to the introduction of similar networks in Israel and Denmark – which were delayed until mid-2012 – meant the rollout of a local system was still at least six to 12 months away.
“We’ve gone live in both Israel and Denmark and we have national coverage in both of those countries, but those deployments happened a little later than we anticipated, and so therefore the Australian deployment will also be a little later,” she is quoted as saying.
The website says the Fluence Z.E. now appears unlikely to launch in Canberra until second-half 2013 at the earliest, with a national rollout not likely before 2014.
But the RedBook vehicle-advice website says there now is no timetable for the EV’s Australian debut.
“It was a recent decision (to indefinitely postpone the Fluence ZE’s Australian release),” Renault Australia spokeswoman Emily Ambrosy is quoted as saying. “We don’t have a (release) date.”
Earlier this month, Better Place announced it is offering electric-car drivers in Canberra and the Australian Capital Territory two years’ free car-charging, using any charge spot on the Better Place ACT public network.
Customers pay a fully refundable A$400 ($422) deposit for the required cable.
Ben Keneally, head of strategy and marketing for Better Place, says being able to park and plug in at high-profile places such as the airport, hotels and shopping centers is a key part of making electric cars convenient.
“For a limited time, we’re offering free charging to early adopters – we’re supporting their decision by making it easier for them to drive more electric kilometers,” Keneally says in a statement.
Better Place says public charge spots are available at eight locations in the ATC.