New car with ‘batteries not included’ message
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.’’