Japan: Better Place demos world’s first switchable-battery electric taxis

Photo courtesy: Better Place

Better Place has demonstrated the world’s first switchable-battery electric taxi in partnership with the Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry, and Nihon Kotsu, Tokyo’s largest taxi operator.

The 90-day project marks the next major milestone leading up to a complete system test of all components of the company’s electric vehicle solution in Israel before year-end.

For the Tokyo electric taxi project, Better Place and Nihon Kotsu 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.

Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry commissioned Better Place to conduct the Tokyo project as a result of the company’s successful demonstration in Yokohama last year.

The battery switch station deployed in Tokyo represents a significant advancement over the Yokohama switch system demonstrated a year ago. The Tokyo switch station features 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.

The industry is proposing various solutions to address extended range, but battery switch is the only feasible option—from the perspective of cost, flexibility (with the ability to manage charge time to less than 5 minutes), and technology—that will work in the near-term while offering a convenient, effective charging solution.

Battery switch delivers an “instant charge” – a fully charged battery in less time than it takes to fill a fuel tank with petrol or recharge via other charging methods while 20-30 minute quick charge is impractical for such use. The duration, durability and robustness of the battery switch process and battery resistance to degradation will all be demonstrated under actual operating conditions with vehicles that operate nearly continuously and thus drive much more than average passenger vehicles.

By year-end, Better Place will test all components of its solution in Israel as the company continues to gear up for commercial launch in Israel and Denmark in late 2011. The complete Better Place solution integrates charge spots, in-car software, operations centers, cars, and batteries, in addition to switch stations, all managed as an intelligent network.

Source: Better Place.

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