So then. Fluence or... dare I say LEAF? - Renault Z.E. Forum
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post #1 of 67 (permalink) Old 01-31-2014, 09:32 AM Thread Starter
Eep
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So then. Fluence or... dare I say LEAF?

Having been interested in the Fluence since it was first announced, I've spent a considerable amount of time debating over whether the car was a sensible purchase. The fact I've not taken the plunge should tell you I've not yet satisfied myself it is.

But the Fluence has recently become a seriously affordable car - that is, if you ignore the battery lease. As we know, examples that are pretty much brand new are being sold for around the 7,000 mark.

The question remains though, is the Fluence is sensible buy? Ignoring the fact that most car purchases are beyond the realms of sound*judgment, there are also some ultra low mileage LEAFs available - and LEAFs without the confusion of a battery rental at a price level that makes their monthly cost via PCP pretty much the same as the Renault.

To my mind

Fluence:
Inexpensive
Proper five seater family saloon
Low key looks and traditional interior

but...
Battery lease adds to the ongoing expense
All that this entails for depreciation and ease of sale
Poor support for EV killer features such as preheating via smartphone
Will worth next to nothing very soon

LEAF:
Far more future proof (e.g. CARWINGS and third party apps)
Faster and better specified
No battery lease makes for easy onward sale
Widely sold and understood by dealers and the online community alike

but...
Tight fit for five
Looks somewhere between awkward and just plain stupid
Festooned with gadgets few people actually need

Please feel free to throw your two cents in! I'm really interested to know for example whether current Fluence owners would buy the same car again, given the choice.
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post #2 of 67 (permalink) Old 01-31-2014, 11:38 AM
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RE: So then. Fluence or... dare I say LEAF?

Only you can decide which appeals to you more.

Personally I like the Fluence BUT not the HV battery lease.

The Leaf is the most affordable and pretty much the most popular electric car out there and thus probably a better bet overall. The Fluence is a nice car, looks normal and is quite rare. There are benefits to a rare car, but also negatives to a big rare, French, electric car. Where do you get a new inverter in 4 years time with only 150 (or whatever it is) cars ever sold in the UK?

Fluence from 7,000 put 70 pm indefinitely
Leaf from 11,000 with a low mileage example and no lease. (10,000 if you want to take a chance on a higher mileage one)

A question I'd like to ask;

Would you buy a Fluence for 12,000 IF it included the battery?
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post #3 of 67 (permalink) Old 01-31-2014, 02:05 PM
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RE: So then. Fluence or... dare I say LEAF?

As a purchase, no, I wouldn't buy either.

A good finance deal with a good GFV would be the bright thing to do. At the moment, as an alternative to the Fluence you have a choice of either the Leaf, or ... er... ? So it would seem logical to me to enter into something which is not a huge cost to you in a few years time when there's better stuff launched.

If I really wanted to buy something and I was prepared to buy either a Fluence or a Leaf (your points also being ones that, for me, count against the Leaf), I'd go for a nearly new Acenta. The reasons are largely because of it being a 'known quantity' and also that there is scope to use the fast charging network .. well, at least for the moment until the whole idea becomes a victim of its own success and they are always occupied by someone else (which seems to be a time rapidly arriving already, even though there are only a couple of thousand Leaf around).

I like the Leaf well enough, but I'd buy neither just at the moment. Modern small diesels are so economical that it makes no sense not to buy one if you are after an 'extra-urban' commuter vehicle [with a bit of fast road to clean out the DPF every day], and if you are after something else then EVs don't make much sense. For me the 'jury' is still out, and come this time next year I am handing the Fluence back. If I can't find a way to buy it back for significantly less than 5k (I'm actually thinking it should only be worth 3.5 to 4k by then) then there will be another 2nd hand Fluence up for sale then. Whatever I pay for it next year, if at all, has to be viewed as a total loss after a finite number of years. There will still be 2 years of drivetrain warranty left.

If I keep it for 3 years I can convince myself that I'll have got my money's worth, and perhaps Renault might still honour any big failures in year 6 (UK law governs fitness for sale for 6 years). But after that, I have to be prepared to throw the car away and so if I pay more than 5k then it's not worth it in the way I look at things, it would be an unnecessary risk.

I saw one of the Fluence adverts offering a PCP deal the other day. If you could push them on that, maybe they would be only too pleased to move those cars on, as some have been with the dealers for over 6 months now. They don't like having cars for that long.

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post #4 of 67 (permalink) Old 01-31-2014, 03:50 PM
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RE: So then. Fluence or... dare I say LEAF?

Good question Eep.

Every day I commute to work in the Fluence and every day I park next to a black Leafie and we charge up happily side by side until the clock swings round to 5pm.

And every day I look forward to setting off home in my lovely Renault and think thank goodness I don't have to get into the ugly Leafie.

Question answered!
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post #5 of 67 (permalink) Old 01-31-2014, 03:54 PM Thread Starter
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RE: So then. Fluence or... dare I say LEAF?

I think if the Fluence were 12K and there were no ongoing commitments then I'd probably have had one by now. I don't mind the idea of killer depreciation, because most car purchases are essentially unnecessary luxuries and losing money is just something we've all come to accept.

I don't even mind the thought it might not be entirely reliable, because it's a second car and that's what the warranty is for. I would even bite the bullet knowing that servicing could only be carried out at a comparatively tiny number of Renault franchises, and that no local repair shop will take the car on - not within the next decade, at any rate.

What I can't get along with is the b-word and the idea it is essentially a hole in your bank account that never heals over. If I fall out of love with the car, I have to watch the money leak out. If I stop using it, I have to watch the money leak out. You just have to look at how dealers are struggling to shift seriously cheap examples with virtually no mileage to understand the problem owners will face some years hence.

My guess is that two or three years from now a Fluence will be worth 999 or less. A short while back I mulled some figures over from a dealer down south and the finance company were working to a residual of 1,500 after three years - that alone should be something of an eye-opener.

Thank you donald for all that. It is something of an indictment to hear an existing owner telling people to stay well clear; like you I think my view would be to treat the car as a total loss over the period you own it - though by the time you come to dispose of it, an increasing number of better thought out rivals (e-Up! and countless others I am sure) will make sure it is worthless and the hole in the bank account will make sure nobody will want it even when it's free.

Hum.
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post #6 of 67 (permalink) Old 01-31-2014, 03:56 PM
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RE: So then. Fluence or... dare I say LEAF?

Quote:
Originally Posted by donald
If I can't find a way to buy it back for significantly less than 5k (I'm actually thinking it should only be worth 3.5 to 4k by then) then there will be another 2nd hand Fluence up for sale then.
And that just confirms to me the issue of the HV battery lease. In 3 or 4 years you think the car may be worth 4,000. Who in their right mind will pay over 800 a year for a battery lease on a car worth 4,000?

And before you say that people should lease or use PCP etc. There are 1 million cars sold each year out of 30 million out there. I'm guessing there are many millions of second hand purchases each year. Those are people who are not able to buy new - for whatever reason, and also the very people who will be looking at your 4 year old Renault.

Just who is going to buy a second hand 4 year old Fluence with a HV lease? I appreciate it's not your problem as you're on PCP, but it IS a problem for many owners on here.
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post #7 of 67 (permalink) Old 01-31-2014, 05:06 PM
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RE: So then. Fluence or... dare I say LEAF?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Eep
Thank you donald for all that. It is something of an indictment to hear an existing owner telling people to stay well clear
Unfortunately, it is a comment borne of financial concerns, rather than concerns about the car itself. That's a real shame, really, and Renault only have themselves to blame. I think it is the best EV currently available*, but that in itself doesn't make it the most viable for 'real-world' users.

*[barring the Model S if you count that as 'available' now, though I do not like the seating position of it, and there is too little rear headroom]

Quote:
Originally Posted by GrumpyCabbie
Who in their right mind will pay over 800 a year for a battery lease on a car worth 4,000?
Oh, I would happily do so, and I think others who have already run such a car would too, but it doesn't look like a good idea to the uninitiated. The reason I would is because, as Renault perceive in their own way, who pays up-front for fuel? This year I have fed 600 diesel and 230 in VED into my wife's car that is worthless. So why not 800 battery lease for a worthless EV with 0 VED, and for more miles than my wife's car has done?
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post #8 of 67 (permalink) Old 01-31-2014, 05:35 PM
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RE: So then. Fluence or... dare I say LEAF?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Eep
though by the time you come to dispose of it, an increasing number of better thought out rivals (e-Up! and countless others I am sure) will make sure it is worthless and the hole in the bank account will make sure nobody will want it even when it's free.
Erm, not so sure about the better thought out rivals; perhaps I'm the only one to think that the Fluence is really a very nice car in its own right. Certainly wouldn't want an electric e-up or similar, better thought out or not. No - it won't be worth very much in the future, but we didn't pay very much at the start! And it really is a very nice, nearly new car. Really. As Donald says, it is indeed the best EV currently available (apart from the Tesla I dare say) - so I'd recommend a test drive! Chris
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post #9 of 67 (permalink) Old 01-31-2014, 06:00 PM
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RE: So then. Fluence or... dare I say LEAF?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Eep
Thank you donald for all that. It is something of an indictment to hear an existing owner telling people to stay well clear; like you I think my view would be to treat the car as a total loss over the period you own it - though by the time you come to dispose of it, an increasing number of better thought out rivals (e-Up! and countless others I am sure) will make sure it is worthless and the hole in the bank account will make sure nobody will want it even when it's free.
What about that option? What if in 2 or 3 years time you literally can't give the car away? Sounds crazy, but with the open ended lease you might end up with the motoring equivalent of an unwanted holiday time-share.

But you still have to pay the HV battery lease, month after month. The Renault dealers may send you on your way. You may be a motoring Billy-no-mates and can't shift the car, yet still have to pay and pay and pay out on the battery lease.

When does it end? Do you dump the car at Renault HQ with the local tv crew filming the shenanigans? Write to Watchdog, give the car to any car dealer who'll have it? Do they have to pay the lease whilst the car sits on their forecourt? Would that put them off? Too many unanswered questions.

And again, nobody has wanted to buy my 3 year old mobile phone. Even if I give it away but you had to pay 25 a month, nobody would be crazy enough to do that, and the same will apply to the the Renault EV's.

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post #10 of 67 (permalink) Old 01-31-2014, 06:37 PM
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RE: So then. Fluence or... dare I say LEAF?

It's pretty straightforward, and doesn't appear to be ambiguous to me at all. You can close down the battery deal any time you like. If you do it before 12 months then there are some sort of penalties, but after 12 months the rental rate is merely 'recalculated' as if you had asked for the relevant shorter period in the first place. After 36 months and there is no penalty/recalculations.

You then have to 'return the battery'. That would mean taking the car to a ZE dealer and you saying - 'I return your battery, take it'. Then you sell the car, sans battery, to someone for dismantling, or just ask if the dealer wants to pay anything for it.

That is what the contract says. In practice, I suspect what might actually happen, given the end of Fluence as a UK model, the dealer/Renault would simply re-negotiate a rate with you, because why the heck would they bother to take an old battery out and ship it somewhere else? Makes no sense. I suspect that in a few years time, if you did that they'd agree a 'peppercorn' rate so you carry on with it.

So long as the battery in your car is working, I think you're probably in a stronger position than Renault to take advantage of the situation. Renault can do very little to take advantage of the situation in their favour - until the battery dies and then they have you by the balls!
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