• Aug 23rd 2010 at 11:01AM
  • 26
Renault Fluence Z.E. – Click above for high-res image gallery

Sometime in 2011, Israel and Denmark will be the first markets where drivers of electric vehicles will be able to stop by a quick-change station for a freshly charged energy unit. Only one car will be compatible with the battery replacement system, the Renault Fluence Z.E. and Better Place will be the exclusive operator of the stations..

Renault has begun hot-weather field testing of two Fluence prototypes in Israel to evaluate performance of the air-cooled battery. The cars will also be tested with Better Place's first two robotic battery swap units. No doubt, automakers around the world will be carefully watching to see if the Better Place system is a success or a failure.

So far, only the Renault-Nissan Alliance has committed to Better Place's battery-replacement scheme. For the system to be technically and financially viable, automakers will need to adopt common pack formats in order to avoid having to stock an unmanageable number of pack types in the swap stataions. Another technical issue is thermal management. The Renault-Nissan batteries are air-cooled while many other manufacturers are using liquid cooling to maintain the temperature in hopes of improving performance and lifespan.



[Source: Globes]


I'm reporting this comment as:

Reported comments and users are reviewed by Autoblog staff 24 hours a day, seven days a week to determine whether they violate Community Guideline. Accounts are penalized for Community Guidelines violations and serious or repeated violations can lead to account termination.


    • 1 Second Ago
  • 26 Comments
      • 5 Years Ago
      Nice looking car. I'm really interested to see how the Better Place system works.
      • 4 Years Ago
      I bought a new Renault car ( regular FLUENCE) on January 13,2011. Upon receipt I notified few problems and the sailor told me ‘’ don’t worry, you are insured for 2 years’’. I saw Renault Garage several times, last time on August 4, 2011 at the main garage at Rishon Letsion as I had an appointment to review all issues. I must specify I am taxi driver and very impaired in my job by all this issues and it is not a good image for you. The technician noticed all problems and listed them, telling they should keep the car few days to fix all problems; after that, the women in charge of services says ‘’we can do nothing for you’’. Due to this lack of responsibility, I am obliged to ask you to demonstrate Renault is still a liable company and to obtain from your local correspondents to repair the following problems or to change the car if there was a series misleading:1/Security: when I start driving, the gear starts shaking and in some cases it stops the car in the middle of the road;2/ the headers of the chairs are broken and Renault argued it is because I covered the chairs; 3/ the black plastic covering the suitcases booth is too small and is not fixed so floating;4/ finishing: several plastics are broken in the car from the beginning. I can send you photographs or expert report if needed. I hope I did take a good decision by choosing Renault. I am willing to hear from you soon and thank you in advance; david zalkan, Eilat (mobile 0573307173)
      • 5 Years Ago
      water cooling is not required for batteries. they don't get very hot and has a large surface area. air is the best choice.
      As I see it, water cooling is only required when you have enormous heat in a concentrated area and you want to transport that to a larger area for air cooling. because it's ultimately always air cooling. so where do you really get a larger area of cooling on the car..

      as for better place it's still a fundamentally flawed concept but it can work as a facilitator of EVs if only on a finite scale that will eventially die out at which point we will hopefully have the real deal anyway.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I am wondering, can the Fluence also be charged in your wall? I am wondering because what if you get home with little range or get stuck with a dead battery somewhere, you'd want to charge it up with a wall plug.
        • 5 Years Ago
        skierpage,
        Great link. I don't much like the sound of the weight distribution and small boot enforced by the battery swap configuration.
        • 5 Years Ago
        It would make sense, that way you'd only need to swap the battery infrequently. Considering that I was confused about this, then I think that automakers should emphasize that the battery swapping option is only for when you go longer than the range of the battery. For some reason, maybe because I wasn't thinking it through, I actually thought you'd always swap your battery out every time it needs a charge!
        • 5 Years Ago
        You can wall-charge, you can even use a CHAdeMO DC fast charge station. http://www.renault.com/en/vehicules/renault/pages/fluence-ze.aspx

        What's unclear is how Better Place gets money if you recharge at home or at someone else's public charging station. Do you pay for the electricity yourself AND pay BP (unfortunate acronym) for your usage of their battery?

        http://www.businessgreen.com/business-green/transport/2267586/review-nissan-leaf-renault is a decent Leaf - Fluence Z.E. comparison. I
        • 5 Years Ago
        Skierpage: Project Better Place is leasing the batteries, and to make a more fair price is basing the monthly fee on actual usage. The vehicle keeps track of how much electricity is used for charging, and that total electrical usage is transmitted to PBP and used to calculate the monthly lease.

        Of course it would be simpler to just charge a flat monthly lease fee, but apparently the head of PBP thought their method would be more fair and appealing to those who don't drive as much.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Yep. Of course. Even battery swap cars only do that for long runs - why would you swap your battery when you have only used a third of it's capacity?
      • 5 Years Ago
      This car (being a sedan) seems more in line with "American tastes" than the Leaf. I'm surprised Nissan has chosen to release their hatchback in the U.S. if they have a sedan ready too.
        • 5 Years Ago
        I totally agree with what you are saying, but I think that the Leaf was developed with more of an international intention than just for the U.S. and I am not sure what is more popular overall, a sedan or a hatchback.

        Also, I am not sure if Nissan will license the Fluence from Renault or not, but considering American buying habbits, I would highly recommend it.

        I also highly doubt that it will ever make it stateside if Nissan does not license it from Renault, considering that Renault is unknown by 99% of Americans.
        • 5 Years Ago
        This is a car that Renault made for PBP at their request.. apparently the conversion from a gasoline car is not as sophisticated as the electric-from-the-ground-up LEAF. The vertical battery placement severely reduces trunk space.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Different paths. Nissan went the integrated battery route, while Renault went for hot-swap. Ghosn likes to keep his options open.

        Oddly enough, the Fluence is neither Nissan, nor Renault-based. It's an upgraded Samsung SM3.
        • 5 Years Ago
        A bit of badge engineering may be called for. The Fluence is supposed to be fairly low volume though, with most of the French cars the Zoe.
        • 5 Years Ago
        The emphasis at Renault is on fairly workaday electric vehicles. The Fluence has got the publicity, but the Kangoo ZE will make a great contender in the commercial market, likely to expand rapidly in Europe, far more so than in the US.
        The Zoe is also rather smaller than the Leaf, and more firmly oriented to city commuting.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Now Israel has discovered large natural gas reserves that can be expected to shift its transportation to natural gas. Why import diesel/petrol?

      For an example of a gas rich country moving to CNG, look at Iran:

      http://www.ngvglobal.com/ikco-increases-iran-bi-fuel-car-production-110-0816#more-9848

      In the period May 21-June 21, 47,592 units of various bi-fuel (CNG-petrol) passenger cars and pick-ups were produced in Iran, which shows an increase of 95.6 percent over the same period last year.

      It will be hard for electric vehicles to compete on a well to wheel basis with natural gas that is produced in Israel, other than for small around town vehicles
        • 5 Years Ago
        To add to what Spec pointed out:

        Natural gas produces less CO2 per unit of energy produced, compared to all other hydrocarbon or alcohol fuels.

        Natural gas requires much less processing for use as fuel, unlike gasoline or diesel, no complex refining is needed.

        Natural gas is the only fossil fuel that also has a renewable source.
        • 5 Years Ago
        What is so great about natural gas? It burns much cleaner. We have a much larger supply of it. It is much cheaper than oil on a BTU equivalent basis. Better range than EVs. CNG vehicles not expensive.

        It is really a nice change from gasoline but there are not many NG fill-up stations. And it will run out eventually.
        • 5 Years Ago
        What is so great about NG. It is just a nother fossil fuel that we have to tear up the ground for and put in a bunch of pipes through rivers and streams.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Weird, cut off the rest of my comment:

        The math on the combustion side is even more straightforward.
        • 5 Years Ago
        I give up. ABG is broken for me.
        • 5 Years Ago
        And again! Guh.

        What I've been trying to say is that an ICE will be
        • 5 Years Ago
        "It will be hard for electric vehicles to compete on a well to wheel basis with natural gas that is produced in Israel, other than for small around town vehicles"

        When you say well-to-wheel, are you talking about efficiency? Because electrics are still superior by this measure. Even if you start with the same natural gas fuel, you're better off burning it in a combined cycle plant (50% efficient), sending it through the grid (90% efficient), into a battery charger (90%), and then an electric motor (90%) for a total efficiency of ~36%.

        The math on the combustion side is even more straightforward.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Israel is a small country which with a very motivated society to get off oil, so it is a good place to start. I wonder if it is the prospect of imminently declining oil revenues that has brought the Palestinians and Israelis back to the negotiation table.
        • 5 Years Ago
        That or they both realize that Iran could end them all...so they might as well chill.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Iran's nuke ambitions are to make them U.S. invasion-proof.

        There's nothing like a 10kT nuke detonated in the midst of the invasion fleet to give the U.S. cold feet.
    • Load More Comments