Renault is currently testing prototypes from their upcoming electric vehicle range in Israel, with a view to selling them in the country by next year.
The vehicles, known as the Renault Fluence Z.E. (for zero emissions), look just like normal Renault Fluence sedans, but run solely on electric power.
At first glance, Israel may seem like a strange place to focus EV efforts on, but it makes perfect sense upon closer examination. For starters, the, ahem, geopolitical concerns regarding the country and its petroleum-producing neighbors means that energy independence is crucial for the 7.3 million strong nation. With expensive gas and short driving distances (the entire country is about the size of New Jersey), Israel is also a great test bed for the Better Place battery-swapping stations invented in Israel in partnership with Renault. For those not near a battery-swap station, charging can take as little as 30 minutes or as long as 8 hours depending on charging equipment.
Renault EV Prototype Testing In Israel
- By Chuck Squatriglia
- August 23, 2010
Renault is testing a pair of prototype EVs with Better Place in Israel and plans to begin selling the car there next year.
The French automaker is pushing the two Fluence Z.E. — for “zero emissions” — sedans hard to see how they perform in extreme heat. The cars are the first to sport Better Place’s unique battery swap technology, in which automated stations can replace a dead pack in minutes. Earlier prototypes used conventional fixed batteries.
Better Place also will use the cars to test its charging infrastructure management network and its battery swapping stations, according to Globes. The Silicon Valley startup has two battery swap stations in Israel and one in Tokyo, where it is field-testing electric taxis.
Renault has been the only automaker willing to develop a car with swappable batteries, and only in the Fluence. Other automakers have said the technology simply isn’t feasible for several reasons, not the least of which it would require a tremendous level of standardization.
The Fluence features a 22 kilowatt-hour lithium ion battery with a range of 100 miles. It’ll charge in six to eight hours when plugged into a 220 volt line. Find a so-called Level 3 quick-charger with 440 volts and you’re good to go in 30 minutes. And, of course, you can swap the pack provided you’re in Israel. Or Tokyo. The battery provides juice to an electric motor with 70 kilowatts (about 93 horsepower) and 166 pound feet of torque.
Production is slated to begin next year. Renault and Better Place have signed a deal to put as many as 100,000 Fluence Z.E. electric cars on the road in Israel and Denmark by 2016.
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