In the short-term, electric vehicles (EVs) aren’t so sustainable. Although they reduce carbon emitted from individual vehicles to basically zero, they still require electricity, the bulk of which in most countries is produced by burning carbon-emitting fuels.
They also require unfriendly batteries that are not easily disposed. But once electricity is generated from solar and wind power and appropriate recycling solutions are created, EVs could go a long way to reducing city din and smog.
But there’s more. A significant challenge is getting enough of a charge to make EVs practical. Modern drivers are accustomed to being able to travel long distances, stop, fuel up, and drive on. But recharging EV batteries requires an investment that tests our time-starved society. As a solution, this past April Better Place inaugurated a battery switch program for a Tokyo taxi fleet. Following their success, San Francisco plans to implement the same.
According to a Business Wire press release issued by Better Place, the taxi operators and car sharing programs will include:
Yellow Cab Cooperative, Yellow Checker Cab Inc.; Regional and state agencies: Bay Area Air Quality Management District Consumer and EV organizations: Plug-in America, AAA Northern California;
Leading regional business/community organizations: Silicon Valley Leadership Group, Bay Area Council, Bay Area Climate Collaborative, Joint Venture: Silicon Valley Network, and others; San Francisco Public Utilities Commission.
The Jerusalem Post reports that it’s good to start an EV program with taxis since they are always on the go (sending dirty plumes into the atmosphere), but this is also why they need a quick electric fix.
And though Better Place offers a variety of charging solutions, teaming up with GE in some cases and including a station that talks drivers through a more efficient charge, taxi drivers running their meter need something swifter still.
So Better Place designed zippy, unmanned switching stations. This is how The Jerusalem Post describes the process:
Battery switch stations are like gas stations for electric cars. The driver rolls onto a platform, where the battery is removed by an automated robotic system and replaced with a new one. Better Place’s station can switch a battery in just over a minute – shorter than the time it takes to refuel an internal combustion car.
This system has served Tokyo well. In three months, EVs from Japan’s largest taxi company, Nihon Kotsu Co., drove over 25,000 miles using the battery switch program. North America’s Better Place Vice President Jason Wolf told the paper:
The battery switch model is gaining momentum globally. Our Tokyo EV taxi program has proven to be an example to major metropolitan areas around the world, and we are pleased that the Metropolitan Transportation Commission recognized this and the Bay Area is taking a leadership position in the US.
By the end of next year, Better Place will expand it’s commercial EV deployments to Israel, Denmark, and Canberra, Australia.
Exchanging batteries is a great solution for commercial vehicles. Can individuals get free switching too?
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