Last week a blogger from Israel posted a video of the recently released 2012 Renault Fluence Z.E. electric car having its battery pack exchanged by a Better Place swap station now undergoing tests prior to the facilities’ launch this summer.
As followers of advanced-tech cars know, Better Place Founder and CEO Shai Agassi is advocating a way around limited electric range by making provision for vehicles to replace a discharged battery with a topped off one. The experience takes place in five minutes, roughly the time it might require to stop at a gasoline station.
The Renault Fluence Z.E. (Zero Emission) went on sale about a month ago in January and is different from the diesel Fluence in that it is electric, and its battery is compatible with the automatic battery exchange machinery being tested by Better Place. Naturally also, the vehicle can be plugged in as can a regular EV.
The one-speeder reportedly offers good torque and is going on sale in Denmark and other markets as well. The deal with this vehicle is customers purchase it without a battery pack and at the same time enter into a leasing contract for the battery and access to swap stations.
Prices for the vehicle will vary depending on local taxes, incentives and other factors. In Denmark, last year Better Place announced it will sell for 205,000 DKK (around $36,423). Cost of battery leasing in Denmark is reportedly $270-$517 per month.
As for the video, the author said he used one of the test cars at the station which is having the bugs worked out prior to being opened in June.
“Driving into the station is just like driving through an automatic car wash,” wrote blogger “Brian of London” (on location in Israel), “Once you’re level with a big yellow sign you put the car in neutral, take your feet off the brakes and let go of the steering wheel.”
He noted the standard 12-volt battery stays in place, so in-vehicle electrics work as the machinery pulls, jostles, and aligns the car prior to lifting it a few centimeters for the battery exchange.
On his second run, he was able to observe the process on his GPS/info screen.
“It shows you when the old battery is being taken out (which you can feel as the car shakes a little) and when the new one is being inserted, that you can certainly feel as the back of the car seems to give a tiny bump,” he wrote, “There are a few quiet noises and the screen in the car seems to match up with everything that happens.”
The writer said it looked like they were not pushing the equipment, and offered the five minutes required should be able to be shortened a bit.
“All in all, however, it’s really a pleasant experience,” he said. “You don’t have to breath in petrol fumes for one thing and there really is nothing much to do before driving out with a full battery.”