Renault EV Concepts at the 2009 Frankfurt auto showEnlarge Photo
Living in Denmark, I was recently able to sign up for a Renault Fluence Electric Vehicle, and was subsequently assigned # 25 on the waiting list.
I also arranged an interview with Soren Hyltoft from Renault Denmark to get answers to my many questions about how the Fluence EV program and the swapping of its lithium-ion battery pack will work.
On the cooperation between Renault and Better Place:
I wanted to get a better understanding of the relationship between Renault and Better Place.
In Denmark, you buy the car (with battery included) from Renault and--if you do not need to battery-switch--you can simply use the car as an "ordinary" EV by plugging it in. Renault expects to offer a lease for both car and battery as well.
If you live in Denmark and want to use the opportunity to battery switch, you must buy the car form Renault but lease the battery form Better Place.
Renault calls the battery switching Quick Drop, but the carmaker won't establish Quick Drop stations in Denmark. So you won't be able to switch your battery unless you sign up with Better Place, which is launching its European operations only in Denmark.
In other European countries, you will not be able to use the Fluence ZE's ability to switch batteries at all. Better Place will start its first operations in Israel during 2010, then in Denmark during 2011.
We discussed how to charge the car at night if you live in the city and must park at the curb without access to electricity. Renault's only solution is to battery switch!
On the two first Renault electric vehicles:
In 2011, Renault will offer the Fluence ZE which can battery switch. Last year I was able to test a pre-production model of the Fluence ZE.
They also will have the Kangoo ZE, which has a fixed battery. That models will only come as a van, not as a passenger car with back seats.
Both the Fluence and Kangoo electric models will have electric heating, and Renault promises that they will still have at least 100 miles (160 kilometers) of range. I look forward to seeing if that is true in winter as well.
There are no prices on the cars yet. Renault expects that the price will be the same or slightly lower than an equivalent sized car with a Diesel engine. We have very high taxes on Petrol and Diesel cars in Denmark, and no tax on Electric Vehicles, so that price should be possible here.
Many other countries in Europe do not have the same high taxes, so it will be very interesting to see if Renault can keep the price on the same level as the Diesel car here.
Both cars come with the option for normal charge and fast charging. And the Fluence ZE, as already mentioned, can also switch out its battery pack using Quick Drop.
On later Renault electric vehicles:
Renault introduced a family of four zero-emissions vehicles at last fall's Frankfurt Motor Show:
In 2012, one more EV will hit the market, which will also come with the ability for battery switching: the Renault Zoe ZE:
I look forward to following Renault's EV program in the future!