The world's biggest proponent of electric vehicles appears to be exchanging his support for the concept of swappable batteries. Renault-Nissan chief Carlos Ghosn says the Renault Fluence ZE will likely be the only model from the French automaker to have the ability for its battery to be changed out at battery-recharging stations such as the ones proposed by Better Place.

Ghosn says he isn't confident that consumers will embrace the concept and will likely prefer the simplicity of a single rechargeable battery in their vehicles, Energi Watch says. So far, the feature hasn't been much of a selling point for Renault, which has sold about 2,000 Fluence ZEs. Compare that to over 50,000 Nissan Leaf sales since the model's debut in late 2011.

Better Place has been roiled by financial losses and management changes, most recently deciding to close California and Australia operations to focus on Denmark and Israel station deployment. As of late last year, the company was said to have lost about $437 million since its 2007 inception. Better Place founder Shai Agassi resigned from the company last October.


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
  • 51 Comments
      Marcopolo
      • 2 Years Ago
      @ Ryan, You amaze me ! Each EV has different batteries. Some even have different battery technology. That's a principle difference between different makes of EV's from one another . The design of the battery packs and the location of the batteries, like the design of the EV's will always be different. Essential to the business model of Better Place is Better Place having a monopoly on the design and location of Battery technology and the design of EV's ! That's not realistic ! The next problem is, the business model only is vaguely viable if battery technology remains at the present state of development, any advances in capacity or speed of charging wrecks the Better Place business plan. The cost of the infrastructure could never be recovered, by battery swapping. The list goes on and on...
      • 2 Years Ago
      BAD JOURNALISM. This article is a complete mis-reporting of what Ghosn said. Read the original interview as you'll see the Renault is NOT ceasing to produce battery swap cars. It WILL keep producing them but currently sees fixed battery as the main game. Better Place is selling more Fluence ZE's in Israel per auto capita than all EV's combined in the US!!!
        Marco Polo
        • 2 Years Ago
        @ Andrew H "Better Place is selling more Fluence ZE's in Israel per auto capita than all EV's combined in the US" Andrew, just another exaggerated claim, in a long line of Better Place exaggerations ! Even on a per capita basis, the US pop is nearly 312,000,000, Israel nearly 7,800,000. (1: 39 ). The Israel Central Bureau of Statistics record less than 800 battery swap vehicles registered. In contrast the US has over 100,000 EV's registered. So that's 1 per 9780 in Israel, as opposed to 1 per 3120 in the US !
      Marcopolo
      • 2 Years Ago
      @ Itay Cohen You'll forgive me for sounding sceptical, but over the years many Better Place employees have posted really optimistic reports posing a customers ! Better Place has made so many false claims over the years, it's hard to keep track. 37 functioning swapping stations is far more than even Better Place claim ! Since the the Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics, lists only 786 suitable vehicles registered, these 37 battery swapping stations can't be very busy ! With only the Renault Fluence ZE, (and no certainty of that model continuing) being produced, it would appear that Better Place battery swapping is about to become extinct ! The problem has always been that very few people want to be stuck with a technology, that relies upon a monopoly ! (Even in such a small country as Israel) Better place always claimed the charging stations cost $500,000 each, that's a lot of investment for less than 800 customers ! That's about $ 23, 000 per car ! Not including the cost of running the stations, paying for batteries, paying staff etc, How much longer can better Place continue to supply service with such losses ? Every scheme, no matter how impractical, has it's fans. (There are still Trebant clubs !). There will always be a few who like almost any product, but not enough to be commercially viable. I have attended meetings where otherwise astute business and media people, got really excited and taken in by the Better Place sales pitch. That's until someone asks awkward questions . That's when the fundamental flaws show up. The huge Tamar Natural gas deposit, will eventually supply 80% of Israel's energy needs while the . newly explored Levitian natural gas field, (potentially in excess of 19 trillion cubic feet ) and the unexpected size of the condensate yield, (34 million barrels), will turn Israel into an energy exporter in the next few years. These discoveries also means Israel can stop importing coal for power generation, and convert much of it's road transport to cheaper LNG/LPG .
      JamesJ
      • 2 Years Ago
      I never thought battery swapping was a good idea. The only way I think battery swapping would work is if they were to use flow-batteries.
      Ricky St. Vincent
      • 2 Years Ago
      I believe battery swapping is a good idea. but not how better place uses them. I think for a company like tesla it would work great. think about it... an average driver would be able to get a 60KW Model S and be great on daily driving. But for longer trips. maybe not so close to a super charger, they could rent a 85KW battery from a tesla store for the weekend. I thought i read this being an option but i may be wrong.
      carney373
      • 2 Years Ago
      I've always liked the battery swap idea. I wish it would succeed, and that automakers would agree to standardizing battery dimensions and locations.
      FREEPAT75014
      • 2 Years Ago
      Great that Renault understood that when you battery costs >60% of your car, the last thing you want to swap is it. No mentionning the very fast evolution of the batteries themselves and the multiple standards, making that system un-effective overtime on large scales, still could be interesting at coherent private/professional fleets levels not even sure... Now one more evidence Mr Gosn, add one Range extender ICE Generator to all your EVs to make them full car replacements instead of just second cars that far too expensive for this crowdy small 2nd car market.
      JP
      • 2 Years Ago
      A bad idea dying a not so slow death.
      Alfonso T. Alvarez
      • 2 Years Ago
      This made absolutely no sense to me from the very beginning! Think of it this way - different vehicles are offered with wildly divergent capabilities in powertrains, range, performance, etc. How in the world would there be a single 'standard' battery pack that would work for a Chevy Spark sized EV and a delivery van? Answer - no way, no how, no time, not now!
        Spec
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Alfonso T. Alvarez
        Gee . . . there are electronic devices of all sorts of sizes and shapes and we do fine with just a few different battery shapes & sizes. A small car could have 1 20KWH battery, a large vehicle could have 3 20KWH batteries of the same type. It is all very do able . . . the problem is creating an industry standard that everyone will agree upon and support. The world is just not ready for that. But give it 20 years and it might be ready. This is a very easy way to give EVs long ranges with very fast recharge. The Tesla 200 miles in 1 hour is nice but wouldn't it be better to get 200 miles in 3 minutes?
          Marco Polo
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Spec
          DF/Giza Plateau DF, is that really you ?? Two sensible, well thought out comments in succession ! What ever therapy you're on, keep it up !
          Giza Plateau
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Spec
          It could be done although the units would have to be a lot smaller than 20kWh. Maybe 2kWh or maybe a couple of sizes like we have in appliance batteries now. But that wouldn't make battery swap viable anyway. For that to work you would always have to relinquish ownership of the battery and commit to an expensive subscription to whatever company that rule the neighborhood. On top of that there would be serious roaming issues unless we are talking global monopoly like Better Place had in mind. And a robot swap port limits the design freedom with the car. It just has way too many problems to fly.
        Denny Gaughan
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Alfonso T. Alvarez
        there would be multiple modular units idiot
          Marcopolo
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Denny Gaughan
          @ Denny Gaughan It pays not to call people idiots ! The whole point of Better Place was standardised batteries. The idea was always unworkable.
          Letstakeawalk
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Denny Gaughan
          Apparently, not.
          Giza Plateau
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Denny Gaughan
          It would actually be funny to make a large battery standard like an AA battery but 20kg in size such that you could put however many in an EV you needed just like a cheap toy RC electric car : ) Like this http://www.carbonlighthouse.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/german_electric_car1.jpg
      ericmarseille
      • 2 Years Ago
      So ADIOS to Better Place unless a miracle happens in the shape of a Chinese automaker... Frankly, I believed 100% in Better Place's dream, and apparently most of its customers are totally satisfied... I'm sure something has turned sour between Ghosn and Agassi at some point, quite early, something we're not told yet ; after all, the ZOE was supposed to be the second car with swappable batteries. For years now every aspect of the communication has been so fuzzy, there must have something going terribly wrong between Renault and Better Place.
        skierpage
        • 2 Years Ago
        @ericmarseille
        "something we're not told yet" Try re-reading the article "Renault, which has sold about 2,000 Fluence ZEs." Renault had to extend the Fluence trunk 5 inches to match Better Place's QuickDrop battery design, and I'm sure Renault's engineers can come up with much better battery designs and better layouts. It would be worth continuing to manufacture compatible models it if BP sold tens of thousands of cars, but they haven't, don't, and won't. Nothing terrible went wrong, just BP's reality was 97% short of their dreams: Wikipedia says "In August 2010 Better Place announced a non-binding order of 100,000 Renault Fluence ZE[12] and four months later Better Place claimed to have sold 70,000 cars from that order."
        Marcopolo
        • 2 Years Ago
        @ericmarseille
        @ ericmarseille Ah, a true believer in Better Place ! Well you're not the only one ! Somehow this absurd scheme made it off the pages of an old 1950's 'Popular Science' magazine and attracted a great many investors, and true believers, who didn't bother to analyse the Better Place business plan. Not just Carlos Ghosn, but some other usually astute businesspeople were taken in by this logistically ridiculous scheme. What has gone 'terribly wrong' is in the enthusiasm of the boom in all things 'green', a lot of poor decisions were made about over-hyped, but poorly thought-out, wonderful sounding projects that would later prove impractical. "most of its customers are totally satisfied..." It's difficult to find any customers who actually use the Better Place Swapping stations (outside of the 400 or so cars sold in Israel ). Better Place claims to have constructed 21 fully operational, commercial viable Swapping Stations, but when pushed hard, can only name 7 ! Better place has been modestly successful in the installation and supply of conventional public charging posts. Better Place is dying, taking with it over $1 billion in investors, and government money. It should never have been started.
      Spec
      • 2 Years Ago
      Well electric cars were popular back around 1910, does that mean they are no good today?
      Marcopolo
      • 2 Years Ago
      @ Andrew H, Good heavens, 38 battery swapping stations ! That's one more than yesterday ! I have no idea whether you are Better Place employees, Better Place investors, or just plain enthusiastic customers. Normally, I wouldn't be so impolite, but well this is Better Place were talking about ! Ok, I believe that you and Itay are very happy customers. No doubt there were equally happy 8-track stereo fans also. But the Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics, still only lists 786 Battery swap vehicles. Even if battery swapping was viable in a small nation with very restricted access to alternate transport, it wouldn't necessarily make it viable anywhere else. Sit down and carefully work out whether you would invest $1 billion dollars of your money to sell electricity (on commission) to less than 1000 customers ! Because when you get right down to it, that's what Better Place does, resells electricity, very, very expensively. Better Place business model is so full of logistical misconceptions. Even the modelling numbers of cars using the Battery Stations, is illogical ! They cite a rate of battery exchange by a battery swap station as being up to 500 cars per day. Very impressive, until you realise that every car owner would have to want to synchronise his battery swapping needs with all other drivers, or wait in long peak hour queues ! At 20 cars per hour, few drivers are going to wait till 3.am to battery swap! Better Place also makes no allowance for malfunctioning sites, accidents, damage to the cars battery release mechanisms, Power shortages, etc. These are not major issues, but all contribute to the reasons why Elon Musk abandoned the idea of battery swapping after running the logistic's. Lastly, with rapidly advancing battery technology, I can charge both at home in few hours, or fast charge in under 20 minutes. Both my LERR or a Tesla model S, will take me almost the entire length of Israel without the need for recharging ! As battery technology improves, so to will the power, and comfort of EV's. Locking into the size, shape and capacity of only one type of battery, currently available, is ridiculous !
    • Load More Comments
    Share This Photo X