There's no word on a U.S. version just yet--especially since Renault pulled out of the U.S. market back in the 80's--but check this out: the French automaker has announced that its first production electric car will feature swappable battery packs. Autopia reports that the car, called the Fluence (pictured), is designed to work with the $500,000 battery swap station designed by Silicon Valley startup Better Place. A typical swap could take about as long as a fill-up for a regular gasoline car.

This is notable because it solves the single biggest problem with EVs--which isn't range. It's actually that once the battery runs down (in 300 miles, 100 miles, or whenever), the car becomes immobilized for several hours while recharging, which makes long trips virtually impossible. (Another alternative is to go GM's route with the Volt, and build in a small gasoline engine that recharges the batteries.)

The report said that Renault is working with Better Place to bring electric vehicles to Israel along with the necessary infrastructure. It's planning for a late 2011 launch, with about 150,000 plug-in charging stations and 100 battery swap stations throughout the country by then.