Better Place Installs First Battery-Swap Stations for Electric Taxis in Tokyo

better place nihon kotsuEarlier this year, electric vehicle infrastructure company Better Place tested out its EV battery switch technology in Yokohama, Japan. Apparently the Japanese government was so impressed that it gave Better Place cash to conduct a pilot project in Tokyo for the world's first electric taxis outfitted with swappable batteries. As part of the pilot project, Better Place will install a battery switching station in Central Tokyo. Up to four electric taxis will use the site to swap batteries when they run out of juice.

When the project begins in January 2010, it will represent the first real-world application of Better Place's electric vehicle battery switching stations, which will begin commercial sales throughout the world in 2012. The company will finally have the opportunity to test battery switching duration, battery resistance to degradation, and vehicle range in city conditions.

It's an important test for Japan, too. While Japan's 60,000 taxis represent only 2% of all passenger vehicles on the road in the country, they emit 20% of all carbon dioxide due to their extensive travel on any given day. That means a successful pilot program bodes well for both future taxi applications around the world as well as in passenger vehicles where travel is not quite as heavy on a daily basis. If the battery switching program survives on the mean streets of Tokyo, it can probably survive anywhere. And since the project is scheduled to begin two years before Better Place implements widespread commercial applications of its technology, the pilot will give the company a chance to work out all possible kinks.

[Better Place]

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2 Comments

  • Brad Wegmann

    Hi Mouli, yes it's a great article and we certainly MUST work harder to build our green tech infrastructure, yet where better to start with the American end user than our cars?

    The gvmt is already providing tax credits for installing high efficiency insulation products and alt. energy sources for both commercial and residential uses, e.g. wind and solar farms...

    Imagine the opportunities that would abound should BP alone succeed as they appear to be?!? I was hopeful when I originally found Shia's accepted challenge of transportation, I'm comfortable saying now, I’m quite optimistic!

  • Mouli Cohen

    Great article. I think that the US needs to work harder on the infrastructure for green tech before we move on anything else.