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Better Place extends Tokyo taxi EV program

Swap meet: The Better Place pilot program is swapping batteries from converted Nissan Dualis EVs in less than a minute on average.

Crucial battery-swap station trial for EVs to be extended for three months

General News logo31 Aug 2010

ELECTRIC vehicle infrastructure provider Better Place has extended its pilot program involving the world’s first switchable-battery taxi station in Tokyo until the end of the year.

Originally scheduled to run for three months, the program duration has now been doubled to enable Better Place and its partners, including the Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) and taxi operator Nihon Kotsu, to “further evaluate and optimise the design and integration” of the entire system.

This includes the battery-swap station, the converted Nissan Dualis EV taxis, battery performance and charging, and driver behaviour and consumer acceptance.

The Tokyo taxi pilot program is considered a vital precursor to Better Place’s network rollout across the globe, which includes Israel in the coming months, Denmark in 2011 and Australia in 2012.

Operations were suspended in August for battery and onboard vehicle data to be analysed, with the program resuming on September 1.

To date, the program has tracked the three pilot vehicles across 40,311km and drivers have completed a battery swap 2122 times. The average swap time is said to be 59.1 seconds “from start to finish”.

Better Place Japan president Kiyotaka Fujii said: “By extending this program, we hope to gain further insights into the battery performance and durability of the switch station itself, which will be invaluable as we move towards commercial launch later next year in Israel and Denmark.”

According to Better Place, the extended timeframe will enable program participants to optimise battery charging rates based on temperatures and performance.

The company also said that rather than having battery recharging rates managed manually, the facilities will be programmed to “speed up or slow down recharging automatically for optimum charging process to extend battery lifespan and performance”.

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