The California-based company Better Place has teamed up with the Danish electricity company Dong Energy to build a network of around 100 stations where owners of electric cars can exchange empty batteries for charged-up ones.
The plan is for Renault to start selling electric vehicles in 2011 with a range of around 160 kilometres.
Drivers will pay for a subscription system based on the number of kilometres driven (measured by GPS satellite tracking). Swapping empty batteries for full ones will be free to subscribers.
Dong Energy says it wants to use some of its excess wind power capacity for charging electric cars.
Business analysts say the project needs to sell 50 000 electric vehicles to break even. Better Place has promised to price the battery subscription at a level just below petrol, while Renault says the electric cars will cost the same as a car powered by traditional fuels.
Electric vehicles have for more than 100 years suffered from a range of problems, including how far they can go on one charge (or how fast), the technology of charging, the charging infrastructure, and the cheapness of petrol and diesel. But there may be advances in all these areas over the coming years as all the major car makers plus some new companies are investing heavily in electric vehicle technology.