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Better Place demos electric car battery-switch technology

better-place-battery-switchBetter Place says it’s achieved a milestone in accelerating the mass-market adoption of electric vehicles by demonstrating the world’s first battery switch technology along with electric car charging spots.

The simple and fully automated range-extension technology is designed to deliver a cleaner, more convenient experience for drivers, according to Better Place. The US-based electric vehicle services provider was the only foreign company invited by the Japanese Ministry of Environment to demonstrate its switch technology, which provides a viable solution to make electric vehicles a reality by offering drivers virtually unlimited range.

Better Place showcased its battery switch platform this week using a modified Nissan electric crossover SUV to demonstrate how to switch a depleted battery for a fully charged one. The company also demonstrated its commitment to open network standards by charging a fixed-battery electric car via one of four Better Place charge spots installed at the demonstration site. The vehicle batteries were recharged using Sharp Corp. photovoltaic solar panels, making the technology zero emission.

“Today marks a major milestone for the automotive industry as well as for Better Place,” said Shai Agassi, founder and CEO of Better Place. “For nearly a century, the automotive industry has been inextricably tied to oil. Today, we’re demonstrating a new path forward where the future of transportation and energy is driven by our desire for a clean planet and a robust economic recovery fueled by investments in clean technology, and one in which the well-being of the automotive industry is intrinsically coupled with the well-being of the environment.”

“Japan has always been at the forefront of automotive engineering and design and maintains a strong sense of environmentalism,” said Kiyotaka Fujii, president of Better Place Japan and head of business development for Asia Pacific. “The launch of Japan’s electric vehicle study is an important milestone in achieving a zero-emission transportation society, and our successful demonstration of charging vehicles with both fixed and switchable batteries is an important contribution towards moving the entire industry forward.”

The automated switch process, which takes about a minute, is faster than filling a tank with gasoline, according to Better Place. The technology safely and quickly removes a depleted battery and transfers a fully charged battery into the vehicle. The process is seamless and automated, and the driver remains in the vehicle the entire time.

The system works with two robotic battery shuttles on an automated track system. One battery shuttle holds the fully charged battery to be inserted into the vehicle, while the other shuttle simply removes the depleted battery. At the end of the process, the track system returns the removed battery to a storage bay for recharging and preparation for use in another electric vehicle. The battery shuttles are designed to work with a wide variety of battery enclosure sizes and shapes for universal application to a range of electric vehicles.

The switch technology featured in the Yokohama exhibit will be further developed into production for the commercial switch stations to be deployed in Better Place markets around the world.

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