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The future is nearly here. Better Place, a company devoted to developing rapid battery swap systems, will have its first station on-line by May 2010. According to Green Car Advisor, the first Tokyo station will serve Nihon Kotsu, one of the city’s largest taxi firms.
“These taxis average about 300 kilometers [186 miles] a day each, so that’s three battery exchanges for each taxi each day,” said Better Place spokeswoman Julie Mullins. “It will be a 24/7 test of the system.”
This news is significant, as Better Place has agreements to supply infrastructure to a number of countries and regions around the world, including Ontario, Canada; Denmark; Australia; Hawaii; Northern California; Japan, and Israel. Denmark and Israel will be the first countries with a full Better Place battery swap network, in 2011 and 2012, respectively.
“But,” you say, “there aren’t any vehicles on-sale that support such a technology.”
You’d be right, although the Renault Fluence ZE pictured above will be the first vehicle to support the Better Place system. Since Renault and Nissan are essentially the same company, expect to see the first vehicles in North America to support battery swapping to come from Nissan. Unfortunately, the upcoming (on-sale in August) Leaf all-electric car does not support battery swapping.
See a demo of the Better Place system after the jump: