A Real-world Test of Better Place Car Battery Swapping in Tokyo
Better Place (which we've covered here before) is an electric car company with an interesting model. To solve the infamous "range problem"—the fact that a charged battery won't carry you as far as a tank of gas—Better Place has a subscription-like service where you buy one of its cars for a small fee and then pay for access to stations where you can swap a depleted battery for a new, charged one.
Better Place recently launched its first real-world test of the system. In Tokyo, a taxi compay is using three electric Nissan Dualis cars and a Better Place battery swapping station to keep them going. Here's a video of what it's like to go through the battery swap process.
In terms of aesthetics and convience, this seems like a much nicer experience than filling up at a gas station. It takes less time, there aren't any foul smells (as far as we know), and you can stay in your car the whole time. That bodes well for the general consumer-friendliness of the Better Place system. Building out a network of swapping stations that's dense enough to be practical remains a big challenge though.
Pending the results of this test in Japan, a larger-scale version of the Better Place system will be introduced in Israel later this year.