Renault-Nissan CEO Ghosn Says Battery Swapping No Longer a Part of Automakers Future Plans

5 years ago by Eric Loveday 7

Obligatory CEO with Vehicle Image...Ghosn Says Future Reanult-Nissan EVs Will Be Like LEAF by Not Featuring Battery Swapping.

Obligatory CEO with Vehicle Image…Ghosn Says Future Renault-Nissan EVs Will Be Like LEAF by Not Featuring Battery Swapping.

We’ve recently documented the struggles faced by battery-swap specialist Better Place, but the latest from Renault-Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn suggests the Better Place model is likely on its way out.

Battery Swapping Just Doesn't Make Much Sense

Battery Swapping Just Doesn’t Make Much Sense

According to Energi Watch, CEO Ghosn is none-too pleased with the lack of success of the battery-swap-capable Renault Fluence Z.E.  Ghosn says that sales of the Fluence Z.E. (roughly 2,000 units) pale in comparison to the non-swap-capable LEAF.

This, says the CEO, is most likely due to the lack of interest in swapping out batteries and to Better Place’s failing business model.

Quoting Ghosn (via Google translate):

“When you look at the overall trends, we must conclude that the replaceable batteries no longer the main track for electric vehicles. The main trail is flat batteries in cars with charging. We believe that people want flexibility in the technology, and we can see that demand is rechargeable standard batteries.”

But it’s the lack of sales of Renault-Nissan Group’s only swap-capable vehicle, the Fluence Z.E., that has convinced Ghosn that, going forward, the Group will no longer focus on offering this capability on its electric vehicles.

It was only a few years ago that Better Place had unbridled optimism about battery swap technology, and may have influenced Renault to also get ahead of themselves by producing the Fluence electric swap cars.

In 2010, then Better Place CEO, Shai Agassi told the press (video below) that his company had “…placed an order for 100,000 cars with Renault,  (and) it is the first mega deal for electric cars in history.”  The CEO also added,  “There has not been a car since the Ford Model T that has been sold at a volume driving on anything other than gasoline.”

As of the last available update we could find, Better Place was no where near following though on purchasing 100,000 units, having sold only about 1,000 Fluence swap sedans since inception.

Honestly, the logistics behind battery swapping were always questionable.  In theory, it make sense, but in practice, it seems far too difficult to ever successfully pull off.

Video below – Shai Agassi announces the “order for 100,000 cars with Renault(0:55) to the media in Frankfurt Germany in 2010, as well as offers some other over-optimistic projections, such as 50% of all cars where Better Place operates will have switchable batteries by 2020 (6:38).

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7 responses to "Renault-Nissan CEO Ghosn Says Battery Swapping No Longer a Part of Automakers Future Plans"

  1. David Murray says:

    Not surprised. I’ve been saying it for 3 years that recharging is the way to go. For a whole bunch of reasons, but mainly because it would be impossible to operate a swap station profitably. The numbers just don’t add up.

    1. Open-Mind says:

      Ditto.

      Doesn’t make engineering sense either. They may as well swap gasoline tanks too. 😉

      Still, In the past a lot of bloggers (not so much on this site) would vehemently defend them, almost like a religion. In retrospect, I suspect some of them may have been paid shills.

  2. Anderlan says:

    To install a 50kW charging station along a highway, I need proximity to a power main, and I need to install a $30k AC->DC inverter. To build a swapping station, I need a pit or lift, machinery to move batteries, and batteries on site. And yes, I can only serve one type of car. I can serve more types, but then my costs go up. With a charger station I just need friggin adapters.

    1. Anderlan says:

      Oh, yes, the charging station doesn’t need personnel!!!

  3. Dennis says:

    I’ve explained it like this before, you can get your tires swapped at an unlimited amount of places, but it’s never easy, quick or convenient.

  4. Martin T says:

    LOL!
    Confirmed – I always thought the whole Better place and that crook Agassi never made logical sense.

    Like they would “ever have” enough “Ready” batterie$ for swap – if you could charge them that quick then you could do in the Car like Tesla while sipping at a Starbucks.

    Better place lost me in Australia with there pricing to the point I imported my own Level 2 and had it installed for the VOLT. In my case I’m glad there gone in Australia
    – However feel sorry for Pure EV Owners taken in by them though – as the charging point stations has some merit.

    Who knows I’m optimistic Super capacitors will once day be used for “quick charges” Along with in car super caps.
    The EV future to me looks brighter and better without swap stations – more R&D to solving the real problems instead of a quick rich scheme – Better in name only.

  5. Schmeltz says:

    I wonder if Better Place would have survived if they just focused their resources at providing charging posts and super-charging stations throughout, rather than battery swap stations here and there? The whole swap station idea was what I think threw a lot of people. Customers couldn’t seem to wrap their heads around that idea.

    In most countries like the U.S., I would think the power companies stand the most to gain by becoming charge station owner/operators. They have the expertise, the right-of-way in terms of where and how the electric lines are run already, and stand to profit from the electric being distributed. Better Place wanted to be a “middle man” so to speak, but looking back w/20/20 vision, that doesn’t seem like a sustainable business model now. They really talked a good talk though, but in the end it didn’t work.