Not to let its sister company Nissan get away with all the electric car press, Renault has also been busy finalizing its plans for releasing electric cars to Europe and Israel early next year.
Today Renault showed off the finalized designs of its Fluence electric sedan and its Kangoo small commercial electric delivery van. In addition, the company also announced a “pre-reservation” list, which will give potential customers a chance to get their name in line to order one of the upcoming electric cars.
The Nissan-Renault Alliance has been working hand in hand to get electric cars into mass-market consumers’ hands. Yet, while Nissan will sell its upcoming LEAF electric car to markets in North America and Japan, Renault has been given the task of designing and building EVs that will do well on the European market and in Israel.
Both the Fluence and Kangoo EVs are said to have a ranges of 160km (100 miles) on a single charge and look very similar to their non-electric counterparts. One might even call them incredibly conventional-looking (by European standards). But, then again, that may be the strategy here.
Renault says that the Fluence will be chargeable in three ways: by a standard European 220V outlet in 6-8 hours, on a fast charge 400V outlet in about 30 minutes, and by battery swapping in 5 minutes. Although the 30 minute fast charge is pretty impressive, it’s the bit about battery swapping that has me most intrigued. Last year the Renault-Nissan alliance announced close collaboration with battery swapping start-up Better Place. Since that time it has become clear that the collaboration really only relates to Israel and Europe, as Renault-Nissan doesn’t see battery swapping working particularly well in the U.S. given the sheer size of the country and infrastructure required to make it work.
Although Renault hasn’t specifically spelled out who the battery swapping would be done by or where it would happen, it appears that the Fluence EV is the first car built by Renault specifically to work with Better Place’s battery swapping scheme. Better Place has adopted the strategy of making battery swapping work in Israel first and is working hand in hand with Israeli government to develop a comprehensive battery swapping infrastructure.
No word on whether or not the Kangoo delivery van accommodates battery swapping, but given that it’s specifically left out of the press release, my guess is that it doesn’t and that the Fluence is the only car Renault has agreed to make work with Better Place at this point… just to see how that relationship works out.
To get on the pre-reservation list for the Fluence and Kangoo EVs (as well as the upcoming Twizy and Zoe EV list) you can visit Renault’s zero emissions website and follow the links.
Check out the pics of the Fluence and Kangoo EVs below and you can read the thorough (14 page) Renault press release on the next page.