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All-electric Fluence confirmed for Australia

The Renault Fluence Z.E. will be launched in Australia by 2012, Renault announced June 20.

The electric vehicle, which is expected to begin shipping in Europe this year, will head down under in the middle of 2012 and will be shipped first to Canberra ahead of a general release later in the year.

It will be the first electric car in the region with a switchable battery, meaning when the battery power runs low, consumers can opt to either recharge or head to a switching station to replace the battery with a fresh one.

The switching is powered by Better Place, which already operates facilities in Israel, Denmark and Canada and is set to open its first battery switch station in Guangzhou, China this year.

The company is set to begin an extensive rollout of switching stations across Australia, promising June 20 that "by 2013 Better Place will give Australia the largest electric car charge network in the world, which is expected to outpace current deployment plans in market-leading countries including the US and China."

Renault's Fluence Z.E., which offers an emission-free range of 185 kilometers on a full charge, could prove propular in Australia, a country where average fuel consumption is 11l/100km and average mileage is fairly high.

Australian prices haven't been announced, but the vehicle is expected to retail in Europe for €27,496, exclusive of battery subscription charges which range between €199 and €399 a month depending on the package.

It won't be alone in the EV market however, as the country is quickly catching up with Europe when it comes to emission free motoring, with Mitsubishi confirming last week that the i-MiEV will go on sale to Australians from August this year.

The battery-powered i-MiEV, already on sale in Japan and several European countries, will be priced at AUD 48,800 (€36,075), the Japanese automaker said, and will be available in dealers in all of Australia's capital cities.

The i-MiEV is set to become the first mass market electric vehicle sold in the country, according to reports - although it seems that it won't be unique for too long.