Better Place launches battery switching system for EVs

Better Place Battery Switching System

By now must of us are aware of the benefits of electric vehicles (EVs).

They’re better for the environment, they’re quiet, they have less moving parts and are therefore more reliable and cheaper to operate and maintain than their combustion-powered counterparts. But it’s obviously not all upside or EVs would be the rule on our roads rather than the exception. One of the major hurdles is the time it takes for them to recharge their batteries. One solution is swapping a dead battery for a fully charged one. That’s just what a project in Tokyo is doing with the launch the world’s first switchable-battery electric taxi.

“Tokyo has more taxis than London, Paris, and New York combined, with approximately 60,000 vehicles, representing a high mileage, high visibility segment that can serve as the catalyst for this technology to transfer to the mass market,” said Kiyotaka Fujii, President of Better Place Japan, an EV services provider based in California.

Tokyo electric taxi project

For the Tokyo electric taxi project, Better Place and Nihon Kotsu, Tokyo’s largest taxi operator, will operate three switchable-battery electric taxis, which are available to the public at the taxi line reserved for environmentally-friendly vehicles on the first floor of the Roppongi Hills Complex. Better Place worked on the design, engineering and conversion of the gasoline powered, crossover utility vehicles turning them into electric taxis with switchable batteries that are provided by A123 Systems.

The electric taxis will be supported by a network of charging points and battery switch stations that swap the taxis’ batteries located in the underbelly of the vehicles through an automated process. The aim is to overcome the dual problems of relatively short range and long downtimes for battery recharging.

See Also

Better Place ran a demonstration of the switchable-battery taxi in Yokahama last year and its success prompted Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry to commission the Tokyo project. The battery switch station deployed in Tokyo represents a significant advancement over the Yokohama switch system, featuring the integration of battery storage and charging with optimal thermal management capabilities. The Tokyo switch station also features nearly continuous operation of switching batteries for the three vehicles while optimizing battery life and performance, which can be monitored in real time online.

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