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Nissan Leaf, Renault Fluence, Volvo C30 Electric: E-cars put to the test

Hans-Dieter Seufert
Nissan Leaf, Renault Fluence, Volvo C30 Electric in the test
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Comparisons of electric cars are rare, after all, there are hardly a dozen freely available e-mobiles . But the fleet is growing slowly, and so for the first time three Stromers are competing at auto motor und sport . Nissan Leaf and Renault Fluence Z.E. are already in the dealers' salesrooms, while V olvo of the C30 Electric delivers only 250 copies across Europe, which can be leased for a monthly rate of 1,131 euros for three years.

With prototypes one The three electric cars no longer have anything in common with the future generation of cars. On the contrary: in terms of workmanship, concept and suitability for everyday use - apart from the range - they are in no way inferior to their conventional colleagues. Volvo C30 Electric and Renault Fluence ZE are ultimately based on the proven production models, only the Nissan Leaf was planned from the start as a thoroughbred e-mobile. That is why it is the only one to exude a futuristic flair, a little on the outside, but all the more on the inside. On three different displays - there are no pointer instruments like in the Volvo and Renault - countless information can be displayed at the push of a button: playful, entertaining, confusing, informative and colorful. When you press the start button, all displays light up, blue bars whiz up and down, accompanied by funny electronic noises. Spaceship Enterprise reports 'ready for take-off.'

Volvo C30 Electric and Renault Fluence inside factual

With such a conversation, Volvo C30 Electric and Renault Fluence ZE do not serve. In the Renault there is a more businesslike atmosphere, only the three round instruments conjure up a little blue light in the interior. On the other hand, neither the operation nor the driving behavior cause problems, the Fluence only rolls a bit stiffly on its low-rolling resistance tires. The location of the heavy battery, standing upright between the trunk and the rear seat, is of little help in terms of driving dynamics.

The Volvo C30 Electric has thetwo-part battery with a favorable center of gravity where the tank is usually located, and - the best solution - in the Nissan Leaf in the double bottom. The Volvo is friendly, bright, Nordic cool and high-quality technical ambience, excellent seats and mostly logical operation - just typical Volvo. This is exactly how the C30 drives: taut, but not uncomfortable. The steering is direct and sensitive, the ergonomics flawless and the acceleration thanks to the 220 Nm powerful electric motor is extremely impressive and whisper-quiet. The large pointer instrument, which provides information about the respective energy flow, consumption and recuperation, is always in view while driving. The other two e-mobiles can do that too, of course, but not as stylishly as the Volvo.

Volvo C30 Electric is recuperation master

Recuperation, the charging of the battery in push mode, is one of the Key technologies to enlarge the limited range a little. The strength of the energy return can be infinitely varied using the 'accelerator', which takes some getting used to because, in contrast to a combustion engine, a lightly depressed pedal can decelerate the electric car quite strongly. This works best with the Volvo C30 Electric, which even masters the sailing function, less convincingly with the Nissan Leaf, which only recuperates significantly in the power-reduced Eco mode. The perceived importance of recuperation increases with decreasing range and becomes more exciting the closer it gets to the single-digit kilometer range. If the distance to the target is greater than the indicated range, you want nothing more urgently than a loooong recuperation-rich gradient.

Which brings us to a primal fear that was almost forgotten in the age of tight TDI range kings. Getting stuck in an electric car is an absolute taboo, it cannot be remedied with a canister full of electricity from the nearest gas station, but requires a socket and a lot of time. The manufacturer's range promises range between 150 and 185 kilometers, actually a solid basis for daily use. In winter test operation, the lithium-ion batteries, each weighing almost 300 kg, are frighteningly empty, many consumers such as light and heating greedily suckle on the battery, in which the chemical processes run significantly more slowly than in summer due to the sub-zero temperatures.

For a reproducible range statement, all e-cars go through two precisely defined cycles on the test stand of TÜV Süd, at plus 23 degrees and at minus seven degrees. Even with pleasant summer temperatures, the Renault Fluence ZE only on 135 kilometers, the Nissan Leaf managed 126 and the Volvo C30 Electric just 106.

Nissan Leaf indirectly emits 106 grams of CO2

The test subjects were coldBut then in the frosty test, the ranges fell to 83 (Renault), 91 (Nissan) and 89 kilometers (Volvo). With which the supposed environmental friendliness of the Stromer gets scratches. Anyone who cannot fall back on clean green electricity when charging, but instead draws the German energy mix from the socket, indirectly emits considerable amounts of carbon dioxide: including charging losses, the CO2 values ​​at 23 degrees for the Renault Fluence ZE 90 g /km, the Nissan Leaf comes to 106 and the Volvo C30 Electric on 124 grams. At minus seven degrees, the emissions even increase to 147 g /km for the Fluence and the Leaf and 148 g /km for the C30.

The range of the electric vehicle depends much more on external influences than with the combustion engine . For example, the Volvo allowed itself 25 kWh /100 km on a consumption-conscious, 80-kilometer lap in the dark and blowing snow. He managed the same distance two days later with the same driving style and sunny early spring weather with only 13 kWh /100 km. The frosty temperatures during the test period also drove the average consumption up: The Volvo C30 Electric required 21 kWh /100 km, Renault Fluence Z.E and Nissan Leaf were slightly below with 19.3 and 18 kWh /100 km. If you have the courage to leave your home territory with your e-vehicle, you should plan carefully.

The conclusion of this comparison is ambivalent. On the one hand, the three Stromers show a mature level of development, they drive, bounce, steer, accelerate and brake perfectly, just as one would expect from adult mass-produced vehicles. This is undoubtedly the right way to increase the acceptance of e-mobiles. On the other hand, the three from the socket also show the whole dilemma of electric mobility: The technology works perfectly, the crux is and remains the battery - too heavy, too expensive, too little capacity. As early as 1991 auto motor und sport wrote: “The electric car is suffering from a chronic breakthrough. It has been on the brink of conquering the future for 100 years. ”Not too much has changed in this to date.

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