Better Place swappable EV batteries priced, Renault is definitely onboard
It's going to be a little while before you're able to recharge your battery-electric EV as quickly as you can refuel your gasoline-powered machine. Until then there's Better Place, offering a suite of options including traditional recharging and fast battery-swapping. The idea is you don't buy a car with a battery you buy a car then lease the battery, and now we're getting an idea of what that lease is going to cost. It's launching first in Denmark with the Renault Fluence Z.E., a €27,496 ($38,500) car. If you're okay with driving less than 20,000km per year you can get by with monthly battery fees between €199 and €249 ($278 to $348), which includes recharging at Better Place locations or five-minute battery swaps if you're in a hurry. For €399 monthly ($558) you get unlimited mileage, but all plans get stuck with a €1,341 ($1,874) up-front fee to install a home charging station -- a bit steep compared to Ford's $1,500 option but not bad overall.

Renault is also announcing Better Place support for its Twizy, which is featured in a video below. It's a tiny little thing that will cost just €6,900 ($9,640) and is due to ship this year. That's astonishingly cheap for an EV but, of course it comes without a battery pack, so you'll need to be leasing one. However, we're told there'll be a 7,500km lease option for just €45 ($63) per month. It also won't be coming to the States, planned only for a European launch, a land of smaller roads that'll be better suited to this flea-sized creation. And now, if you'll excuse us, we'll be sending our poor currency-converting intern on break. Poor gal really needs a coffee.



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Better Place and Renault launch Fluence Z.E., the first "unlimited mileage" electric car together with innovative eMobility packages, in Europe's first Better Place Center

March 3, 2011

COPENHAGEN (March 3, 2011)-Better Place opened today, together with its partner Renault, Europe's first Better Place center. Visitors will now be able to experience sustainable mobility and will have the opportunity to place an order for a Renault Fluence Z.E. with the Renault staff and sign up with the Better Place team for a subscription of mobility services – conveniently packaged for consumers, fleet managers and the public sector.

Attractive prices unveiled

The Fluence Z.E. "Prime Time" launched in Denmark from 205.000 DKK (€27.496), including VAT, and Better Place will offer consumers a choice of five, fixed-price, packages based on kilometers driven. For drivers who drive more than 40.000 kilometers per year, Better Place offers a fixed-price package of 'all you can drive' kilometers for 2.995 DKK (€399) per month, effectively giving drivers of the switchable-battery Fluence Z.E. unlimited driving range and unlimited kilometers in Denmark in an era when oil prices are at a two-year peak and rising.

For drivers who drive fewer than 20.000 kilometers per year, the fixed monthly price offer ranges from 1.495 DKK (€199) to 1.895 DKK (€249). Each subscription includes a one-time fee of 9.995 DKK (€1.341) for the installation of a private charge spot so that drivers can safely plug in at home. Initial delivery of the Renault Fluence Z.E. with Better Place mobility services will occur in the fourth quarter of this year.

The Renault Fluence Z.E. "Prime Time" will include, as standard features, climate control, navigation and energy management services via the in-car software system, radio-CD, alloy wheels, electric mirrors, 4 electric windows, central locking, a state-of-the-art lithium-ion switchable battery and many more equipments.

The car will offer Danish drivers a range of up to 185 kilometers, measured on the New European Driving Cycle (NEDC) with a fully charged battery. Actual range is virtually "unlimited," thanks to the convenience of switchable battery technology that will enable drivers to "refuel" their Fluence Z.E. in under five minutes in the Better Place network of battery switch stations.

Every subscription includes unlimited access to the Better Place network of public charge spots and battery switch stations, electricity usage, personalized energy management and navigation services via in-car and network software, an inventory of batteries with a guaranteed service level agreement, 24-hour access to customer service and support, and a private charge spot.

Overall, taking into account the vehicle selling price and the subscription packages, drivers will enjoy a more affordable driving alternative compared to the cost of petrol-based cars and fuel, depending on make and model of the car and driving usage. Importantly, drivers gain the added benefit of locking in a fixed price for mobility services without the volatility risk associated with the price of oil and without sacrificing range.

A key milestone for Renault and Better Place

"Today marks an important step forward for Better Place in our preparations to commercially launch our full solution in Denmark later this year," said Shai Agassi, Founder and CEO, Better Place. "With our partners Renault and DONG Energy, we are delivering on our promise to offer a more sustainable, convenient and affordable mobility solution that will help drivers avoid the pump at a time when petrol prices are at an all-time high. It's an exciting time for Better Place in Denmark with our new center, our new CEO, Johnny Hansen, our first ever price and package, the first batch of Renault Fluence Z.E. cars, and our new development agreement with Renault."

"Today is a great day for Renault," said Philippe Klein, EVP, Planning and Programmes at Renault. "Renault, within the Alliance, aims to lead the car industry in Europe for zero emission mobility, thanks to a whole line up of four electric vehicles that will be marketed from fall 2011. Denmark is a very important market for Renault, thanks to strong environmental consciousness and positive public policy in favor of clean vehicles. Fluence Z.E. will be the first electric car with virtually no range limit, thanks to the ability to switch the battery in the Better Place stations. The partnership with Better Place is a great opportunity to offer a breakthrough mobility solution and experience innovative marketing methods. The Renault network will be fully involved in the adventure, as Renault dealers will sell and display the Renault Fluence Z.E., whilst all of them will carry out routine maintenance."

Better Place and partner DONG Energy will work together to leverage Denmark's 20% energy production from wind turbines to power the Better Place network to charge the Renault Fluence Z.E. At scale, batteries in electric cars and in battery switch stations serve as a distributed energy storage network, allowing utilities to harness additional sources of renewable energy including wind. By bringing more sources of renewable energy on line, utilities use less fossil fuel-based power generation, enabling the de-carbonization of the grid – a key policy objective for European Union Member States.

Innovative marketing approach and reassurance through country coverage

The official opening of the Better Place Center in Copenhagen marks a major milestone for Better Place and Renault, which share a vision for a new retail experience exclusively for electric car drivers.

The Better Place Center reflects an entirely new approach to selling electric cars and mobility services. Visitors will be able to learn more about the Better Place solution and the benefits of electric cars and experience the thrill of driving Renault's Fluence Z.E.The center will feature models of the Renault Fluence Z.E. so that visitors can enjoy a personal electric car driving experience through the streets of Copenhagen.

The tour of the Center is available to groups and individuals from both Denmark and abroad, beginning March 5, 2011.

Renault will not only sell and maintain the Fluence Z.E in its network in Denmark but will also be present inside the Better Place center with a dedicated Renault team that will present the Fluence Z.E. and be able to take orders. All dealers will be entitled to take orders and carry out the scheduled maintenance on the Renault Fluence Z.E. Additionally, 16 electric vehicle (EV) test drive centers and 12 EV expert centers will be set up within the Renault network in Denmark. In addition, customers will benefit from all the Renault services, as road side assistance, maintenance contract and replacement car.

About Better Place

Better Place, the leading electric vehicle services provider, is accelerating the global transition to sustainable transportation. Better Place is building the infrastructure and intelligent network to deliver a range of services to drivers, enable widespread adoption of electric vehicles, and optimize energy use. The Better Place network addresses historical limitations to adoption by providing unlimited driving range in a convenient and accessible manner. The company works with all parts of the transportation ecosystem, including automakers, battery suppliers, energy companies, and the public sector, to create a compelling solution. Based in California and privately held, Better Place has operating companies in Israel, Denmark, and Australia. More information is available at http://www.betterplace.com.

About Renault

With its partner Nissan, Renault aims to become the leader in zero-emission in use mobility, namely the first car manufacturer to sell a complete range of electric passenger cars and light commercial vehicles at an affordable price for the greatest number. This year will be a decisive chapter in Renault history with the launch of three electric models, Fluence Z.E., Kangoo Z.E. and Twizy, followed by ZOE in 2012.

The Renault group, with more than 350 industrial and commercial sites in 118 countries, designs, develops, manufactures and sells a broad range of innovative, safe and environmentally respectful vehicles. Renault pursues its strategy of profitable growth under the Renault, Dacia and Renault Samsung Motors brands. The Renault group employs 121 000 people worldwide, reported a net revenue of €38,971 million and has sold more than 2.6 million vehicles in 2010.

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