• Mar 3rd 2011 at 8:03PM
  • 19
Renault Fluence Z.E. concept – Click above for high-res image gallery

Last April, Better Place launched a pilot project in Tokyo aimed at demonstrating the feasibility of battery swapping as a means to provide electric taxis with near-instant range extension. In the first 90 days, the swap-capable electric taxis traversed more than 25,000 miles of roadways and Better Place deemed the project a success. Better Place expanded the program, Better Place announced in October that its swap-capable electric taxis – a fleet of 61 vehicles to be exact – will be deployed on U.S. soil over the course of the next three years. The company's latest expansion is taking place in Copenhagen Denmark.

That's where Better Place and Renault will launch Europe's first Better Place Center this weekend and, along with it, what they're calling the first "unlimited mileage" electric car. The unlimited part, of course, comes from the exchangeable batteries in the Fluence Z.E., which visitors to the Center can now place an order for. Better Place is on hand to offer its eMobility subscription packages as welll.

The Fluence Z.E. starts at 205,000 DKK (€27,496, or $38,378 U.S. at current exchange rates) and BP's "all you can drive" package (well, up to 40,000 kilometers [25,000 miles] a year) costs another 2,995 DKK (€399, $556) a month. No matter how you slice it, that's a lot of money to go electric, even in a country where a gallon of gas costs the equivalent of $8.32. Better Place makes the best of it by saying the combination gives drivers, "unlimited driving range and unlimited kilometers in Denmark in an era when oil prices are at an all-time high and rising." A less-generous, 20,000-kilometer-per-year [12,500-mile] package costs between 1,495 DKK (€199, $277 ) to 1,895 DKK (€249, $347) a month. No matter which package you get, you'll need to pay a one-time fee of 9,995 DKK (€1,341, $1,870) for a private charge spot at home. Deliveries start later this year.

[Source: Better Place, Wired]
Show full PR text
Better Place and Renault launch in Copenhagen the first "unlimited mileage" electric car
March 03, 2011

Better Place and Renault launch Fluence Z.E., the first "unlimited mileage" electric car together with innovative eMobility packages, in Europe's first Better Place Center.

COPENHAGEN (March 3, 2011) - Better Place opened today, together with its partner Renault, Europe's first Better Place center. Visitors will now be able to experience sustainable mobility and will have the opportunity to place an order for a Renault Fluence Z.E. with the Renault staff and sign up with the Better Place team for a subscription of mobility services – conveniently packaged for consumers, fleet managers and the public sector.

Attractive prices unveiled

On the Fluence Z.E. "Prime Time" launched in Denmark from 205.000 DKK (€27.496), including VAT, Better Place will offer consumers a choice of five, fixed-price, packages based on kilometers driven. For drivers who drive more than 40.000 kilometers per year, Better Place offers a fixed-price package of 'all you can drive' kilometers for 2.995 DKK (€399) per month, effectively giving drivers of the switchable-battery Fluence Z.E. unlimited driving range and unlimited kilometers in Denmark in an era when oil prices are at an all-time high and rising.

For drivers who drive less than 20.000 kilometers per year, the fixed monthly price offer ranges from 1.495 DKK (€199) to 1.895 DKK (€249). Each subscription includes a one-time fee of 9.995 DKK (€1.341) for the installation of a private charge spot so that drivers can safely plug in at home.

Initial delivery of the Renault Fluence Z.E. with Better Place mobility services will occur in the fourth quarter of this year.

The Renault Fluence Z.E. "Prime Time" will include, as standard features, climate control, navigation and energy management services via the in-car software system, radio-CD, alloy wheels, electric mirrors, 4 electric windows, central locking, a state-of-the-art lithium-ion switchable battery and many more equipments.

The car will offer Danish drivers a range of up to 185 kilometers, measured on the New European Driving Cycle (NEDC) with a fully charged battery. Actual range is virtually "unlimited," thanks to the convenience of switchable battery technology that will enable drivers to "refuel" their Fluence Z.E. in under five minutes in the Better Place network of battery switch stations.

Every subscription includes unlimited access to the Better Place network of public charge spots and battery switch stations, electricity usage, personalized energy management and navigation services via in-car and network software, an inventory of batteries with a guaranteed service level agreement, 24-hour access to customer service and support, and a private charge spot.

Overall, taking into account the vehicle selling price and the subscription packages, drivers will enjoy a more affordable driving alternative compared to the cost of petrol-based cars and fuel, depending on make and model of the car and driving usage. Importantly, drivers gain the added benefit of locking in a fixed price for mobility services without the volatility risk associated with the price of oil and without sacrificing range.

A key milestone for Renault and Better Place

"Today marks an important step forward for Better Place in our preparations to commercially launch our full solution in Denmark later this year," said Shai Agassi, Founder and CEO, Better Place. "With our partners Renault and DONG Energy, we are delivering on our promise to offer a more sustainable, convenient and affordable mobility solution that will help drivers avoid the pump at a time when petrol prices are at an all-time high. It's an exciting time for Better Place in Denmark with our new center, our new CEO, Johnny Hansen, our first ever price and package, the first batch of Renault Fluence Z.E. cars, and our new development agreement with Renault."

"Today is a great day for Renault," said Philippe Klein, EVP, Planning and Programmes at Renault. "Renault, within the Alliance, aims to lead the car industry in Europe for zero emission mobility, thanks to a whole line up of four electric vehicles that will be marketed from fall 2011. Denmark is a very important market for Renault, thanks to strong environmental consciousness and positive public policy in favor of clean vehicles. Fluence Z.E. will be the first electric car with virtually no range limit, thanks to the ability to switch the battery in the Better Place stations. The partnership with Better Place is a great opportunity to offer a breakthrough mobility solution and experience innovative marketing methods. The Renault network will be fully involved in the adventure, as Renault dealers will sell and display the Renault Fluence Z.E., whilst all of them will carry out routine maintenance."

Better Place and partner DONG Energy will work together to leverage Denmark's 20% energy production from wind turbines to power the Better Place network to charge the Renault Fluence Z.E. At scale, batteries in electric cars and in battery switch stations serve as a distributed energy storage network, allowing utilities to harness additional sources of renewable energy including wind. By bringing more sources of renewable energy on line, utilities use less fossil fuel-based power generation, enabling the de-carbonization of the grid – a key policy objective for European Union Member States.

Innovative marketing approach and reassurance through country coverage

The official opening of the Better Place Center in Copenhagen marks a major milestone for Better Place and Renault, which share a vision for a new retail experience exclusively for electric car drivers.

The Better Place Center reflects an entirely new approach to selling electric cars and mobility services. Visitors will be able to learn more about the Better Place solution and the benefits of electric cars and experience the thrill of driving Renault's Fluence Z.E. The center will feature models of the Renault Fluence Z.E. so that visitors can enjoy a personal electric car driving experience through the streets of Copenhagen.

The tour of the Center is available to groups and individuals from both Denmark and abroad, beginning March 5, 2011.

Renault will not only sell and maintain the Fluence Z.E in its network in Denmark but will also be present inside the Better Place center with a dedicated Renault team that will present the Fluence Z.E. and be able to take orders. All dealers will be entitled to take orders and carry out the scheduled maintenance on the Renault Fluence Z.E. Additionally, 16 electric vehicle (EV) test drive centers and 12 EV expert centers will be set up within the Renault network in Denmark. In addition, customers will benefit from all the Renault services, as road side assistance, maintenance contract and replacement car.

About Better Place

Better Place, the leading electric vehicle services provider, is accelerating the global transition to sustainable transportation. Better Place is building the infrastructure and intelligent network to deliver a range of services to drivers, enable widespread adoption of electric vehicles, and optimize energy use. The Better Place network addresses historical limitations to adoption by providing unlimited driving range in a convenient and accessible manner. The company works with all parts of the transportation ecosystem, including automakers, battery suppliers, energy companies, and the public sector, to create a compelling solution. Based in California and privately held, Better Place has operating companies in Israel, Denmark, and Australia. More information is available at http://www.betterplace.com.

About Renault

With its partner Nissan, Renault aims to become the leader in zero-emission in use mobility, namely the first car manufacturer to sell a complete range of electric passenger cars and light commercial vehicles at an affordable price for the greatest number. This year will be a decisive chapter in Renault history with the launch of three electric models, Fluence Z.E., Kangoo Z.E. and Twizy, followed by ZOE in 2012.

The Renault group, with more than 350 industrial and commercial sites in 118 countries, designs, develops, manufactures and sells a broad range of innovative, safe and environmentally respectful vehicles. Renault pursues its strategy of profitable growth under the Renault, Dacia and Renault Samsung Motors brands. The Renault group employs 121 000 people worldwide, reported a net revenue of €38,971 million and has sold more than 2.6 million vehicles in 2010.

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
      • 8 Months Ago
      That stunning beauty,
      the Renault Fluence Z.E. concept..

      ..costs LESS than a
      Honda Civic 5-door
      and around the price of a
      Jazz 1.4 Comfort i-Shift
      so its like you pay for a small bubble car
      and you get a big sedan.


      BP plans to have a battery switch station every 25 miles in every route..

      Also a monthly payment gives you:

      ..unlimited access to the Better Place network of public charge spots and battery switch stations, electricity usage, personalized energy management and navigation services via in-car and network software, an inventory of batteries with a guaranteed service level agreement, 24-hour access to customer service and support, and a private charge spot.

      and because it's an electric car you also save money on maintenance:

      "A modern electric car has only about five main moving parts compared with hundreds in an internal-combustion engine. It has no gearbox, valves, clutch, muffler, or exhaust and requires no spark plugs, no filters, and - no oil. There are no regular visits to the dealership for an EV. No oil changes, no filters, even brake pads last two-to-three times longer than in conventional cars, because EVs use regenerative braking to recapture the energy that would otherwise be lost while braking. Your first trip to the dealership with an EV for scheduled maintenance is at 40,000 miles to check the brake pads. Eventually, you'll need new wiper blades and tires. But that's about it!"


        • 8 Months Ago
        "No filters" is a double bonus on EV's in your estimation. I'll go with it in this case.
      • 8 Months Ago
      Having had to repair quite a few connectors in my day, I can see a distinct problem with this method of 'recharging'. Just how many disconnect/connect cycles does this equate to in three or four years? There's got to be a better way IMO.
        • 8 Months Ago
        How many connect/disconnect does a LEAF EV do to recharge? How many con/discon do you cellphones take? The battery swap connector is designed for high cycle. It is not a problem. They have tested it for way over 4000 cycles the last time I saw the news 2 years ago.
      • 8 Months Ago
      All of you forget the incredible TAX OF 180% for non ev vehicles.

      Fluence diesel..... ¡¡¡MORE THAN €50.000!!!
        • 8 Months Ago
        In not 180% of total price.... but final price is much higher:

        VW Passat Variant 1,6 Blue Motion Technology– Official Prices

        Denmark: Euro 49.100
        Netherlands: Euro 31.600
        Germany: Euro 27.225
        Sweden: Euro 29.900
      • 8 Months Ago

      BP is simply the most expensive way to own an EV and a bad idea.

      • 8 Months Ago
      "he car will offer Danish drivers a range of up to 185 kilometers, measured on the New European Driving Cycle (NEDC) with a fully charged battery."

      Damn . . . that car must have a pretty big battery in it. I'm surprised they went with such a large size.
      • 8 Months Ago
      Wow...that is sooooo lame! It's more expensive to purchase the BP battery plan than to drive an ICE at $8/gallon. BP is toast, HSBC should kick themselves in the ass for such a poor investment.
      • 8 Months Ago
      Guys guys guys...

      You are reasoning as Americans, that is as people not used yet to assume the full cost of oil-based mobility, which is perfectly ok if you want to keep on subsidizing the very terrorists who throw planes at your buildings and sustain a few oil and/or antiterrorists wars here and there.

      Some remarks :

      - First, the picture is of the Fluence Concept car, NOT the actual Fluence ZE. The actual car is way duller ; so much for the truth

      - Second, the price of cars in Denmark is subject to a HUGE tax, 180% of the car's price ; let me repeat : you are paying in DK nearly THRICE the price of the car ; yes, 100% (the car) + 180% (the tax)...In this respect the (tax included, well, I HOPE!) price of the Fluence is a BARGAIN

      - Thirdly, the price of a gallon of gas here in Europe is between 7 and 10$ ; let's assume 8$ ; suppose that you make 20000km in a year (the European average, 12500 miles), at a rate of 30mpg (average european car), it will cost you $3300, which is EXACTLY IN LINE WITH the cost of one year of better place 20000km contract ($277 * 12 = $3324) ; sole remark, and here we can see how crafty Shai Agassi is : this comes for 20000km, but when you do LESS than 20000km, paying the same, you pay more per km without necessarily realizing it, marketing, marketing...

      - Which brings us to point four : who said Better Place was a non-profit organisation?
      Clearly the aim of Agassi's company is to reap as big fat benefits it can in the shortest period, to reassure their investors, to attract new ones, and to make plenty of money out of a feel-good idea, of course! and one sure way to do it is to maximize the margin on their services and products, i e to place them just marginally under the equivalent cost for gasoline-powered vehicules.

      - Which brings us to point five : But is it equivalent?
      Well, there are cons compared to gasoline-powered vehicules, but there are also pros:
      - Con : mobility ; no way to get out of tiny Denmark, though Sweden is just miles from Copenhagen (huge problem because Fluence is designed as a family car, the BIG one with which the average Dane family is supposed to get all the way down to Spain for the summer holidays)
      - Con : the fear of some technical/infrastructure issues : how does a charged battery behave in the cold scandinavian winter? Will there be enough charging spots? etc...
      - Con : the biggest issue in my opinion : despite being a midsize vehicule, the boot capacity is RIDICULOUS, because of the placement of the batterie above the rear axle
      - Pro : Costs! and esp. MAINTENANCE ; an electric VEHICULE (not only the motor, the whole vehicule) costs HALF as an oil-powered car to maintain ; Put that at a near $1000 economy a year (car maintenance is extremely expensive in Europe)
      - Pro : BUDGET LINEARITY ; no need to wonder how you're gonna do to to pay a visit to aunt Edna + be at your kid's sport tournament at the other end of the country this week when you're broke ; you've got to manage a certain allowance for so much miles each year for a FIXED monthly fee ; a head-scratcher maybe, but for the average European a real budget easier (I assume you can't understand guys because all you've got to do in the US is to say "hey, let's jump in the car and go to LA" when you're living in Denver and still it doesn't even scratch your budget, but I can tell you that we, in Europe, bleed through the nose every mile we make...) ; that AND the maintenance economy, hence LESS bad, bad surprises (aaawgh, I went for an oil change and I end with a $3000 bill!)
      - Pro : Comfort : no shift, hence no shift pedal, but not the discomfort of a slushbox either, silence, good acceleration.
      - Pro : The green thing, and the politically correct thing...Plus pride, novelty, maybe some perks (free parking in centertown, that sort of thing).

      So are you convinced? Not yet! which brings us to point six and last : there seems to be disenchantment between Renault and Better Place lately ; I think that Better Place is actually too greedy for a start, and just by chance Renault has specified that the battery leasing for the ZOE will be under 80 euros per month in France (NOT better place) ; now, you'll have to pay for the electricity, but even having to go "by mounts and valleys" on a given month it won't explode a budget, electricity miles will be 5 times less expensive than oil miles.

      I am much more convinced by the Renault model than the Better Place model, which in my opinion can only work in markets where cars are taxed to death and their cars come at a huge tag discount thanks to tax reductions, like Israel and Denmark, but I don't understand how they will be able to do it in Australia for instance...But yet, in these focused markets, I'm sure it will be a winning formula.

        • 8 Months Ago
        You didn't mention the only utterly unique feature of BP! Fast battery switch lets you drive long distances. If they really do build 15 switch stations, then you can drive anywhere in Denmark just like a gas car, which is hugely significant. (And can drive the Fluence Z.E. elsewhere in Europe, but then you're back to plain old ~8 hour 230V recharging at public charging stations.)

        Beyond that BP is just an EV with a different pricing model. It's hard to believe a profit-making enterprise that has to build facilities and buy spare battery packs can be cheaper than charging your electric car yourself. BP can negotiate cheap electric rates, sell peak electrons back to the grid, etc., but in theory so can individuals.

        I think BP can work, *mainly* in countries where the geography and energy pricing and regulation make it more appealing, i.e. Denmark and Israel and... Drivers will decide if 5-minute battery switching is better than waiting 30 minutes for a fast DC charge of a Leaf.
      • 8 Months Ago
      Well! At those prices one can hardly wait to sign the contracts. I thought the whole idea for Better Place would be expensive; but, $50k a year for 25,000 miles of electrons seems a bargain...for a King maybe.
      • 8 Months Ago
      So looks like the per-mile costs come out to about 26-27c / mile if you use up all your lease miles/year.

      What's the typical car cost in Denmark and what are typical fuel costs?
        • 8 Months Ago
        typical values might be 21cent/mile gasoline and 15c/mile diesel for modern vehicles.

        although the battery lease includes battery cost. the fuel cost does not include comparable service costs. so it might match up. which is actually fairly good for someone who has green inclination.

        I really dislike the mentality of making it cost the same if they can do it cheaper so it's just an excuse for greed. but for now it might be the case that the wear on the batteries is that costly and if so then we can be happy that we have an alternative that doesn't cost more. so we can make a better place..

        if people listened to me though and made light weight aerodynamic cars they would need much smaller batteries thus costing much less in wear such that battery drive can really shine. but why would anyone listen to reason.. that'd be crazy
      • 8 Months Ago
      F you Better Place for calling it "unlimited mileage*" Up to 25,000miles a year. I'm sick of unlimited being tied to a damn *
        • 8 Months Ago
        skierpage, don't forget it's Denmark, so there a Prius actually costs about twice the price indicated for the Fluence ZE in this article (they have a very high tax rate on cars - see http://modelinformation.toyota.dk/toyota/specs/prislister/personbilerprisliste/?page=10 )

        For a lot of people, I'm sure that changes the equation in favor of the EV, so I am tentatively optimistic that this EV thing could really take off in Denmark...

        (I also think you're being a little optimistic about real-world 4 l/100km for the Prius, 5 would be more likely, but that's just a minor note compared with above)
        • 8 Months Ago
        'While the cost of a car and battery service might sound expensive up front, consider someone who drives 230 miles a week in a car that gets 25 mpg. That’s $76.54 a week, or $3,980 a year, for gasoline at current prices. With Better Place, a year’s worth of battery swaps and maintenance costs around the equivalent of $4164 — and that’s a fixed price that isn’t dependent upon what a barrel of oil is going for.

        The added attraction of the Better Place plan to those in Denmark is they won’t pay a tax of up to 180 percent on the cost of a new car. And compared to the total cost of a car with a fixed battery — a car like the Nissan Leaf, for example — with Better Place you purchase the car and lease the battery separately, allowing you to swap a dead battery in minutes instead of waiting to recharge.'


        It's clear that car companies are pricing their cars in relation to the market they are selling them in, ie getting as much as the market will bear.
        That's capitalism, I suppose.
        • 8 Months Ago
        As usual ABG writers can't summarize worth a damn. The press release says
        "For drivers who drive more than 40.000 kilometers per year, Better Place offers a fixed-price package of 'all you can drive' kilometers for 2.995 DKK (€399) per month" , which sounds completely unlimited.

        So for €4788 ($6700) a year you drive as much as you want. Google suggests Danish petrol price was €1.54 / liter in February, so that would buy you 3100 liters of petrol. A Prius gets 3.9l/100 km on the optimistic Euro cycle, say 4l/100 km real world, so spending the same money each year on gasoline would send you 77,500 km in a fuel-efficient car. But that's traveling 212 km a day, which is more than the Fluence Z.E. can travel on a single charge (185 km)!

        Cost does not equal value, but even at high mileage near the limit of what an EV can realistically travel each day, the Better Place car is not cheap to run.

        There's no point doing the math for lesser distances because BP doesn't explain what they mean by "For drivers who drive less than 20.000 kilometers per year, the fixed monthly price offer ranges from 1.495 DKK (€199) to 1.895 DKK (€249)."

        A key element is how many BP swap stations blanket Denmark. It looks roughly 300 km both top-to-bottom and side-to-side, so if BP can build 10 or so swap stations you really can drive anywhere all-electric.
        • 8 Months Ago
        Oh, another note. Above, skierpage compared how far you can go with 4 l/100km with the price you pay for the battery lease for 40,000 km. He came down to 77,500 km. But that's just for the most efficient gas car on the planet, with an unrealistically large real-life mpg. If you consider a more typical gas-driven sedan with a more realistic consumption, you'll be looking at something like 8 l/100km, which comes down to...38,750 km, i.e. very close to the distance you pay for in the electric! So, at least the price is not unreasonable.
    • Load More Comments
    Share This Photo X