Renault Delays Launch of Fluence Z.E. Electric Sedan Due to Lack of Battery Swap Stations


The battery swapping saga continues to develop as French automaker Renault announced it will delay the launch of the Fluence Z.E. electric sedan in Australia indefinitely.

According to Renault, partner Better Place is not on track with its promise to establish abroad and practical battery swapping network in Australia.  Therefore, the automaker will put a hold on the launch of the Fluence Z.E. there until Better Place catches up with the times.

Renault says Better Place's battery swapping network isn't sufficient to support the launch of the Fluence Z.E.

Back in June of 2011, Renault promised that the Fluence Z.E. would launch in Australia during the second quarter of 2012.  Now, Renault says the electric sedan will make the journey to Australia in the second half of 2013, with a nationwide rollout expected in 2014.

Even 2014 seems questionable though as Better Place continues to struggle (background info available here) to stay on track.

For the record, Better Place spokeswoman Felicity Glennie-Holmes defended the firm with this lengthy statement:

“We always said that the launch of the switch infrastructure in Australia would be 12 to 18 months behind our other markets.”

“When we originally talked about switch networks around the world we had an ambitious plan.  We’ve gone live in both Israel and Denmark and we have national coverage in both of those countries, but those deployments happened a little later than we anticipated, and so therefore the Australian deployment will also be a little later.  With any new technology there are always unexpected things that come up.”

The Fluence Z.E. can charge by plugging in, so what's the need for battery swapping?

“Whether that’s in technology and software development or whether it’s in actual deployment or site acquisition, introducing a whole new way of driving to the world isn’t something that can be done overnight, so I think what we’ve experienced is the natural process of implementing a completely new system into different countries.”

“We’ve been doing some really detailed network planning, so we’ve mapped and analyzed most of the driver experiences in the major metropolitan areas.  We’ll first deploy in Canberra and progressively rollout across the rest of the country.”

We here at InsideEVs see no urgent need for battery swapping as plugging in seems to fulfill the current demands of most electric vehicle owners.  Does battery swapping even make sense?

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10 Comments on "Renault Delays Launch of Fluence Z.E. Electric Sedan Due to Lack of Battery Swap Stations"

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I know the idea of “battery swap” sounds like such a great idea to newbies. But it is such a terrible idea on so many levels.. When will they learn?

Sure- the plug solves the recharging issue, and EVs with range extenders (Fisker, Volt, soon-to-be-BMW) have the range issue solved as well. And technology improvements over time will just make the Better Place concept even less relevant than it thinks it presently is. How Renault ever got mixed up in it is a story I’m waiting to read….. and what effect will ripples from a BP failure will have throughout the entire Nissan/Renault global conglomerate.

Short answer … politics. CEO Shai Agassi is very well connected. He got the Israeli government to back BetterPlace, and the French government owns 16% of Renault.

IMHO, the BP business model is weak at best, and the whole battery-swap concept is flawed because it requires a series of design compromises and engineering nightmares. You have to be pretty well connected to sell an “almost ready” flying pig. That’s also why B.P. is in a perpetual state of almost ready.

I predict that Shai will jump ship right before B.P. implodes.

Well then why wasn’t France first in line for setting up a BP network – perhaps the government connection did not provide much if any influence for R/N to get involved with BP. I wonder how much of Carlos Ghosn’s ego was involved.

Since Shai is from Israel, he probably has the strongest connections there, so that is where B.P. was piloted. Also France is 30X larger than Israel, so not a great place for a pilot deployment IMHO.

I was wrong in predicting that Shai will jump ship from BP. He was already ousted from BP last October:

Shai and Ghosn appear to be buddies. Here is a photo of them from 2008:

Interesting picture – looks like a handshake kind of agreement taking place…. I’d like to see the timeline around the date of this picture – what Renault/Nissan decisions involving their EV programs were made, who was involved, etc. Ghosn appears to be a big player, but lately he has faded into the background….. could this be an indication R/N will be pulling back their committment to EVs?

Hmmm … can you change the title to indicate Australia ? I was wondering why Renault would delay introducing Zoe in EU because of swapping.

I never understood this hatred for PBP.

Battery swapping works as long as you lease the battery.. there are no draw backs there and zero worries about battery degradation in hot places… battery wear models for the Leaf in Phoenix indicate 70% remaining capacity at 5 years, 60k miles. Coincidently the same as the new warranty Nissan is offering.. Why would you want to own such a battery?

Battery swapping has many problems, even if the battery is leased. Fast charging is much much much much better than swapping in nearly every respect. Simpler, cheaper, easier, more reliable, more flexible, etc.

Battery swapping may have some problems, but they are not your problems.. the problems belong to the battery owner. Dont forget the station owner can also sell powergrid stabilization service with the batteries that are on standby.

Let say the swapping station installed 3 fast DC chargers in the parking lot.. would that bother you?