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Pre-orders open for European electric vehicle

Renault has officially opened pre-orders for its electric sedan, the Renault Fluence Z.E., on the first press day of the Paris Motor Show.

The vehicle, which will hit French roads in the middle of 2011, will have a base price of €21,300, comparable to the gas-powered Fluence dCi.

In a twist to the usual ownership model of electric vehicles, Renault will rent the batteries of the vehicle separately, charging €79 a month for a monthly lease.

The €21,300 price is significantly lower than the European retail prices for the Japanese-made Nissan Leaf and Mitsubishi i-MiEV, which are expected to be between €33,000 and €35,000.

However, the exact price of fellow French brand Peugeot's first electric vehicle, the iOn, is still unconfirmed.

The Fluence is also set to be released in Israel and Denmark in 2011, where it will be the first vehicle to use Better Place's battery-switching technology.

In contrast to the charging points required by competing electric vehicles, Fluence owners with access to Better Place stations will also be able to drive in for an automated switch (hence the battery rental system).

Customers wishing to drive the Fluence Z.E. must register on Renault's website and pay a €100 deposit.