My weekend in The Netherlands is over and I have now returned to the wintery North behind The Wall. What, this isn’t the Game of Thrones reality? Never mind, but brace yourselves: the Amsterdam street sightings are coming.
This was the first car I came in contact with: a fully electric Renault Fluence Z.E. taxicab. The Renaults, outfitted in collaboration with the Better Place battery swap network, provide taxi service in and around Amsterdam. This one really stood out from the fleet of black Mercedes.
From wiki: The Fluence Z.E. uses a synchronous electric motor with rotor coil, weighing 160 kg (350 lb). Its peak power is 70 kW (94 hp) at 11,000rpm, while maximum torque is 226 N·m (167 lbf·ft).
The vehicle certainly moved swift enough, and the taxicab driver told me he was perfectly satisfied with it. The idea with the Fluence Z.E. is that instead of spending hours plugged in, the cars have a drop-in battery pack which enables it to basically have available range all the time, with practically no charging downtime – ideal for a taxi service. When the driver had dropped me to my hostel, he said he would be driving back to the Schiphol airport taxi terminal and have a fully charged battery pack in waiting, which would be quickly swapped in. The range is about 185km (110 miles) for one battery pack, if you drive up to highway speeds (85 mph).
Again from Wiki: The in car navigation system uses a WiFi connection to communicate with the station’s computers and an RFID tag on the windscreen of the subscriber’s car identifies it. The barrier opens and the customer drives up to a mark. The dashboard screen and external monitors then give instructions to select Neutral and turn off the ignition. The remaining process is fully automated, similar to going through a car wash, so the driver never has to leave the car. In just a few minutes, a robot beneath the car removes the depleted battery and replaces it with a full one. Once complete instruction is given to restart the car and an exit barrier lifts.
I don’t know if the Fluence Z.E. is available to the public in the Netherlands, but in Israel, France and Denmark you can buy one and lease the switchable battery package. The monthly fees for the switchable-battery service start from €82 in France.
The Fluence itself is a Turkey-assembled four door sedan, practically the size of every other European-made mid-size car. It’s based on the current Megane, and is also sold as the Samsung SM3 in South Korea.
[Images: Copyright 2013 Hooniverse/Antti Kautonen]