Renault CEO deals blow to Better Place technology

Carlos Ghosn told Denmark's "Energi Watch" that swappable batteries will not make up the majority of the electric car market.

"When you look at the overall trends, we must conclude that replaceable batteries are no longer the main track for electric vehicles," Renault chairman and CEO Carlos Ghosn told Danish online news site "Energi Watch", delivering a body blow to electric car venture Better Place Inc. Renault SA (Euronext: RNO) supplies its electric Fluence ZE to Better Place.

Ghosn added, "The main trail is flat batteries in cars with charging. We believe that people want flexibility in the technology, and we can see that the demand is for rechargeable standard batteries."

Ghosn told "Energi Watch" that Renault would continue providing its electric cars to Better Place, saying "There may be cases where people prefer replaceable batteries - as we have tried to include Israel and Denmark. Here we will continue to offer the Fluence with replaceable batteries. There may also be large companies, where they have a huge fleet of cars, and do not want to wait for charging. But it will not be the majority of the market, and going forward, our focus is on the charging technology, among other things look at our new Nissan Leaf."

US independent news website "The Examiner" says that new, faster recharging electric cars are eroding the advantage of Better Place's battery replacement stations. Ghosn is saying the marketplace is choosing electric cars which rely on charging stations, rather than electric cars that rely on battery swapping stations.

"The Examiner" notes that Renault's Zoe is one example of the new fast charging system that can perform a complete recharge in 30 minutes, instead of having a battery replacement system, implying that Renault may have changed its mind about its deal with Better Place. Renault launched the Zoe in Europe earlier this year.

"It is a matter of sales, and Better Place has only been able to build its battery swapping stations in two countries, Denmark and Israel. Between those two countries there have been only 2,000 or so Renault Fleunce ZE's sold, versus the 50,000 or so Nissan Leaf's, or 9,000 Renault Kangoo's," "The Examiner" says.

Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on May 5, 2013

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2013

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