Better Place electric vehicle subscription plans take shape in Europe

Electric vehicle evangelist and infrastructure company Better Place -- in conjunction with partner Renault -- has revealed some of its pricing plans, at least for those of you who live in Europe where its service is slated to go live later this year in Denmark.If you're a power driver -- someone who plans to travel more than 40,000 kilometers (about 24,855 miles) per year in your new Renault Fluence Z.

Electric vehicle evangelist and infrastructure company Better Place -- in conjunction with partner Renault -- has revealed some of its pricing plans, at least for those of you who live in Europe where its service is slated to go live later this year in Denmark.

If you're a power driver -- someone who plans to travel more than 40,000 kilometers (about 24,855 miles) per year in your new Renault Fluence Z.E. "Prime Time" sedan -- you'll pay an "all-you-can-drive" rate of 399 euros per month. Based on current currency conversion rates, that's about $557. Not quite that hard on your vehicle, then you can expect to pay between 199 euros and 249 euros per month (or roughly $278 to $348, per month, respectively).

The first Renault Fluence models with the Better Place mobility services are due to deliver in the fourth quarter of 2011. The car is designed to provide a range of 185 kilometers (about 115 miles). The Better Place subscription service referenced above will allow Danish drivers to "charge" their vehicles is less than five minutes, by having the battery swapped in Better Place network stations or centers. (The first center opened in early March in Copenhagan.) Aside from the monthly fees you'll have to pay, you'll pay a one-time fee of 1,341 euros (approximately $1,872) for an at-home private charging station.

Denmark was picked as an initial Better Place market because of its predilection for green energy and sustainable behavior. About 20 percent of the company's entire energy production is from wind turbines and it is those turbines that will be mainly leveraged to power the Better Place charging network. Philip Klein, the executive vice president for planning and programs with Renault, notes in a press release about the initiative:

"Denmark is a very important market for Renault, thanks to strong environmental consciousness and positive public policy in favor of clean vehicles. Fluence Z.E. will be the first electric car with virtually no range limit, thanks to the ability to switch the battery in the Better Place stations. ... The Renault network will be fully involved in the adventure, as Renault dealers will sell and display the Renault Fluence Z.E., whilst all of them will carry out routine maintenance."

I know many U.S. readers will be quite astonished by this price tag, but what you have to take into account how much more expensive gasoline is in Europe than in the United States. I was reading some information from the United Kingdom this morning, and estimate that gasoline in that country is close to $8 per gallon. (Here in northern New Jersey, the pricing this morning were about $3.27 per gallon for the "regular" stuff.) So, when you start doing the math for our European neighbors, Better Place's Denmark pricing plan starts to sound pretty appealing.

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