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 |  Aug 23 2010, 3:36 PM

Renault is currently testing prototypes from their upcoming electric vehicle range in Israel, with a view to selling them in the country by next year.

The vehicles, known as the Renault Fluence Z.E. (for zero emissions), look just like normal Renault Fluence sedans, but run solely on electric power.

At first glance, Israel may seem like a strange place to focus EV efforts on, but it makes perfect sense upon closer examination. For starters, the, ahem, geopolitical concerns regarding the country and its petroleum-producing neighbors means that energy independence is crucial for the 7.3 million strong nation. With expensive gas and short driving distances (the entire country is about the size of New Jersey), Israel is also a great test bed for the Better Place battery-swapping stations invented in Israel in partnership with Renault.  For those not near a battery-swap station, charging can take as little as 30 minutes or as long as 8 hours depending on charging equipment.