[UPDATE]: Video of the switching station in action and photos added below.
YOKOHAMA, JAPAN- Last night at approximately 10:30 PM PST (1:30 AM EST), electric vehicle services provider Better Place will demonstrate key elements of their battery switching station technology. This is the first public exhibition of a battery switching station—which Better Place lauds as the final piece of a “total electric vehicle solution.” The company was invited by the Japanese Ministry of the Environment to set up an exhibit in Yokohama.
“Range anxiety,” as it’s called, describes the most fundamental fear expressed by would-be adopters of electric vehicles. It’s no different than the fear of driving through sparsley inhabited parts of the United States, where it’s important to know your car’s mileage and the distance to the next gas station.
Electric vehicles differ in that their fuel is electricity stored in a battery pack. But battery packs can’t be recharged in the same amount of time that it takes to pump 10 gallons of gas. It usually takes hours. That means that either EVs are restricted to short driving distances, fully charging during long breaks in commuting (like work or home), or, they just never take off.
Better Place intends to solve this problem, and thereby eliminate range anxiety, by swapping out used batteries for fully-charged replacements. If this can be done in the same time as a pit stop (under 5 minutes), it would offer drivers a hassle-free way to dramatically extend the range of their electric vehicles.
Better Place CEO Shai Agassi’s TED speech:
Clearly, Better Place will face numerous challenges when bringing this technology to market. A multitude of these stations must be built before range anxiety can be completely eliminated, and that’s going to take time an money (each station costs $500,000, though Agassi says that’s half the price of a regular gas station). But if the idea works, it could revolutionize transportation.
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- Being Smart About Your Electric Vehicle Infrastructure (By Richard Lowenthal)
- The Race to an EV Future: Being First to an Electric Vehicle Grid (By Mayor Newsom)
- How to Build an Electric Car Charging Infrastructure
Image Credits: Better Place