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.