Better Place Demonstrates Two-Minute Electric Vehicle Battery Swap System [Video]

There are two schools of thought about electric vehicle battery systems: one is that batteries should be bought along with the vehicle and kept as long as possible, and the other—supported by California-based EV services startup Better Place—is that batteries should be leased and swapped out when necessary at curbside stations. According to Better Place, the advantage to swapping out batteries is that drivers can exchange depleted battery packs for fresh ones in under three minutes, much faster than the average charging time.

Better Place's first real-world tests came a few months ago, when it installed the world's first battery-switchable electric taxis in Tokyo. Now we finally have video proof from the backseat of one of these taxis (hat tip, Autobloggreen) that the battery switching system works as quickly as the company says. The company plans on installing charge spots, operations centers, in-car software, and switch stations next year in both Denmark and Israel.

Ariel Schwartz can be reached on Twitter or by email.

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  • easyecar

    @falstaff I agree with you that there are still things to be proven in a danish winter and other climat.

    But it was a very convincing experience sitting in that taxi and I was surpriced how fast it was.

    I hope that some automanufacture in Japan build and replace the 60.000 Taxis with electric taxies for Tokyo and use this system.

    Best regards

  • Falstaff

    It has been clear since last April with BP's press demonstration that battery switching is indeed fast. What we don't know anything about yet is its reliability, and this video is no help there. Does it work in driving rainstorms with muddy undercarriages? Can the station reliably charge all batteries on queue, so that a larger fleet can be charged once every three minutes? How about snow, as BP is due to start deploying these stations in Denmark in months? Finally, in these demonstration vehicles neither batteries or the vehicles are production grade, i.e. the Renault Fluence EV that BP intends to deploy in Israel and Denmark. The battery is 3/4 size and the vehicles are conversion kits. One consequence of the smaller battery is that these Tokyo taxis can't make it out to Tokyo Narita airport.