New car with ‘bat­ter­ies not in­cluded’ mes­sage

NT News - Motoring - - CARS GUIDE PAUL GOVER -

CARS don’t usu­ally sport ‘‘a bat­ter­ies not in­cluded’’ warn­ing.

But that’s the elec­tric fu­ture, ac­cord­ing to green in­fra­struc­ture com­pany Bet­ter Place, which is rolling out a net­work of charge points and bat­tery switch sta­tions.

And its not in­ner-city gree­nies, but fleets, that will be the driv­ing force.

At the mo­ment, plug-in cars are a chicken and egg sit­u­a­tion. To be suc­cess­ful, they need the in­fra­struc­ture to recharge quickly and con­ve­niently rather than be­ing tied for 12 hours to a house­hold socket — but on the other hand, you need enough cars on the road to jus­tify build­ing the in­fra­struc­ture.

To by­pass that hur­dle, Re­nault and Bet­ter Place are part­ner­ing for the in­tro­duc­tion of the elec­tric Flu­ence sedan, which will be the first car to hit the mar­ket here with a swap­pable bat­tery. And the first time a car has hit the mar­ket marked bat­ter­ies not in­cluded.

You buy the car from Re­nault, but Bet­ter Place leases you the bat­tery which can be re­moved and switched for a full one in less than five min­utes, and in­stalls your charge point.

Fleet sales are driv­ing the deal, which echoes a strat­egy al­ready used in Is­rael and Den­mark, with other coun­tries also set­ting up.

‘‘Fleet sales are about 50 per cent of new car sales tak­ing in user­chooser leases and we’re talk­ing a high per­cent­age of fleet sales for this car,’’ Bet­ter Place cor­po­rate af­fairs head Ali­son Terry says.

How­ever, the com­pany won’t yet re­veal lease prices or what the range of subscriptions is likely to be, ex­cept that there will be dif­fer­ent plans based on dis­tance pos­si­bly rang­ing from 10,000km to 40,000/un­lim­ited.

But Bet­ter Place is

con­fi­dent there will be strong in­ter­est from fleets look­ing to re­duce fuel bills, ser­vice costs which are about 20 per cent cheaper on elec­tric cars – and re­duce emis­sions.

‘‘It will be of ben­e­fit to any­body who spends $80 a week of more on fuel,’’ Terry says, point­ing out that the bud­get point is more rel­e­vant to newer cars.

The av­er­age weekly dis­tance in Aus­tralia is about 288km but that rises to 500km for ve­hi­cles less than two years old which is largely the pas­sen­ger fleet age. With av­er­age fuel con­sump­tion at 11.5L/100km, its not hard to im- agine a weekly fill of at least 50 litres and that tips you over the $80 mark. It also gives fleets the abil­ity to pre­dict their fuel ex­pen­di­ture far more read­ily than they could with in­ter­nal com­bus­tion cars and the ris­ing cost of fuel,’’ Terry says.

‘‘Were talk­ing to them about to­tal cost of own­er­ship — but (pric­ing) de­tails will have to fol­low.’’

Terry says an­other key propo­si­tion for fleets is the prospect of zero emis­sions at no ex­tra cost.

‘‘While peo­ple feel for the environment, they’re not pre­pared to pay more to be green in Aus­tralia we all know that.’’

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