This past year, a lot of adverse publicity issues surrounded the Better Place electric car network company, that included the firing of its international CEO Shai Agassi. This was followed by news yesterday that the new CEO Evan Thornley has been fired. These revelations have at least partially resulted in France’s Renault Group looking for new alternatives to the battery switching concept as devised by Better Place and its former CEO.
The French car manufacturing giant may have found a solution with the production of a less expensive electric car, the ZOE, a car which travels up to 130 km (80 miles) on a full charge and sells for around $ 21,600.
The ZOE is the same size as Renault’s popular Cleo gasoline model, which makes it a better choice for people who want to own a smaller car yet one that is totally electric. Although it does not have switchable battery like the Renault Fluence Z.E., it does have a battery that can be “quick charged” to 80% of its full charge strength in only 30 minutes.
As an indication of the possible popularity of this car, Renault secured its ZOE first fleet deal when a well known French retailer, E.Leclerc, ordered 10 ZOE’s for the use of its employees; and Renault’s ‘Z.E. Club des 50’ has increased the number of battery charging stations for use by ZOE and Fluence Z.E. car drivers.
Whether these cars will eventually arrive in places like Israel where electric cars are catching on and other parts of the Middle East where people are eco-aware will depend on consumer demand and the development of electric car infrastructure networks like the one Better Place is installing in Israel.
It was previously reported the Nissan Leaf model would not be initially imported into the Middle East due to a lack of infrastructure for these cars and less demand for them in countries where oil is still plentiful and gasoline relatively low priced.
If introduced into Israel, it will remain to be seen if the ZOE will help to improve that country’s currently flagging electric car market in which the Better Place company invested so much media attention and money to show that its electric car service network is one that really works. For now anyway, those who did purchase the Better Place monthly service agreement appear to be satisfied with it.
But following so much adverse publicity, its a big question if bringing in the ZOE and possibly other all electric or plug in hybrid car models will work for both Renault and Better Place.
Read more on electric cars and hybrid cars:
Happy 2013! A Good Year for Electric Cars
The Best Electric Cars for 2012, According to The American Buzz
We Interview Better Place Car Owners in Israel