Renault has been making electric vehicles for a decade now and what’s cool about its first ever EV, the Fluence Z.E., is that it also featured battery swapping. It was co-developed with an Israeli company called Better Place, and even though it seemed like a great idea at the time, battery swapping was ultimately abandoned and Better Place filed for bankruptcy in 2013.
Battery swapping has since been revived by companies such as China’s Nio and Geely, while other companies in the country are also analyzing whether or not it’s worth investing in it. And now a report suggests that Renault is looking to get back into battery swapping too, pointing to statements made by the company’s CEO, Luca de Meo, who said that
There is a potential upside by trying to find a safe reliable solution [to battery swapping. It's not decided but I see it as an interesting opportunity. From a business point of view there is a [good reason] to separate the battery from the car, especially if you are handling the second and third life of the battery.
This news may have come as a direct result of Nio’s announcement that it wants to build its first battery swapping stations in Europe. Norway has been specifically targeted as the first European country, with plans to build 4 stations around its capital Oslo in 2021 and an additional 12 to be built in other places around the country next year.
By offering battery swapping, Nio is clearly trying to provide a real (albeit different) alternative to Tesla’s excellent Supercharger network. Renault definitely won’t go all in on battery swapping, but it doesn’t want to be left behind if the trend picks up and other manufacturers join in.