According to a media report, the Renault boss is thinking about e-cars in which empty batteries can be swapped for full ones in a flash – like the Chinese e-car start-up Nio.
Luca de Meo, CEO of Renault since July 2020, is apparently drawing inspiration from Chinese e-car startup Nio, which recently announced plans to bring its battery swapping stations to Norway. The Financial Times quotes the French automaker’s chief executive as saying he has tasked his “engineers to find a solution that goes back to an idea previously presented by Renault around 2010/2011.”
The reference is to an electric version of the Fluence compact sedan, which was equipped with an exchange battery for the battery exchange stations of the startup Better Place. Better Place had been founded in 2007 by Israeli software entrepreneur Shai Agassi and raised 850 million from various investors, including Renault.
The electric version of the Renault Fluence had an interchangeable battery.
However, the idea of simply “refueling” e-car range by swapping batteries within minutes did not catch on; Agassi withdrew, and Better Place had to file for bankruptcy in 2013. The idea of battery swapping lives on at the electric car start-up Nio; in April, it already reported 190 so-called power swap stations in China and still wants to open four stations in Norway in 2021, the first European sales market for Nio’s ES8.
At Renault, swap batteries already reappeared in early 2020 – in the Morphoz concept car (see image gallery). The electric SUV features an extendable wheelbase, which should make room for a larger battery; special exchange stations were provided for extension and battery replacement in the Morphoz. The additional battery can be added or removed in seconds via a compartment on the underbody.