Konnichiwa World! Better Place Launches Electric Taxis in Tokyo

electric car better place japan photoTaxis can’t wait all night to recharge: The Better Place battery switch is showing another way for electric cars, in Tokyo.

A few days ago, Better Place electric car company sent out the press release. The Israeli-US company launched its electric taxis in Tokyo, Japan. The pilot will be small, with only 4 taxis which will replace their batteries, over time, with Better Place’s battery-switch system. Taking about 2 minutes to switch, this kind of solution is needed since taxis are in operation all day long and don’t have time to plugin and recharge the traditional way.

“Charging spots are not a realistic option for taxis that need to be on the go all day long,” Better Place CEO Shai Agassi said from Tokyo, during a conference call. The pilot project will last 3 months and is currently being funded by the Japanese government. Similar tests on taxis will be part of the pilot tests done in Israel later this year, Agassi (pictured below) said.

electric car better place japan photo

We’ve already reported Better Place’s business with China’s Chery Automobile, the country’s largest independent auto manufacturer. The two will collaborate on building new electric cars and technology.

As for the launch in Japan earlier this week, Kiyotaka Fujii, president of Better Place Japan writes:

“There have already been attempts to electrify taxis in Japan via fixed-battery EVs. These efforts have not taken off because of the fundamental limitations of EV range: after driving for half a day, the taxis have to be retired for their batteries to either cool or recharge. Given this limitation, you simply can’t make a business model around a fixed-battery taxi.

electric car better place japan photo

“This is why we are introducing switchable-battery electric taxis into the marketplace today. The taxis developed for this demonstration are able to drive through our battery switch station, exchanging a depleted battery for a fully charged one in less time than it takes to fill a tank with fuel. This allows the EVs to run continuously, which is an absolute necessity for taxis.”

electric car better place japan photo

As of April 25, there are now switchable-battery electric taxis transporting people around Tokyo. This is a major accomplishment in terms of promoting environmental sustainability, reports the company, and also demonstrates how electric taxis can be made economical (and, therefore, sustainable) in the long run.
electric car better place japan photo

Hopefully, we say optimistically.

Some while back, Turkey talked about implementing hybrid electric buses into its network, and Israel hybrid taxis. There was no follow up. Let’s wait to see if Better Place can make it work.

::Better Place

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One thought on “Konnichiwa World! Better Place Launches Electric Taxis in Tokyo”

  1. We are in the ground transportation industry in the Northeastern part of the USA where BIG cars and trucks are never big enough! We have taken steps to reduce our carbon footprint by eliminating stretch limousines from our fleet which is an unprecendented move in the limousine industry. We still get calls asking for the largest Hummer for proms, weddings and other events. When we tell them we have “gone green”, they laugh and hang up. We would be the first ones to buy electric cars if only there was a way to fill ‘er up every 90 miles (we drive a minimum of 150 miles to each location. Our ride-share program just got off the ground and I am happy to say that there is an interest in the program; however it is mainly because of the cost savings involved and not the green initiative. Let’s keep trying to do our share – every bit counts.

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