Battery switch stations could revolutionise the electric car industry

Better Place is a venture-backed American-Israeli company based in California, which aims to develop new infrastructure to boost the electric vehicle industry. According to Shai Agassi, the company’s founder and CEO, his vision was inspired by Klaus Schwab at the World Economic Forum, who asked: “How do you make the world a better place by 2020?”

Though they are clean and green, a major issue for electric cars is their limited range and the time needed to recharge batteries, which can be up to several hours. This “range anxiety” has dissuaded many potential buyers until now.

To get around this problem, Better Place has been promoting the idea of battery swapping. Using an automated system, a spent battery can be ejected and replaced with a fully charged one, saving the delay of waiting for the vehicle’s battery to charge up. The driver can remain in their car while the battery is swapped, with the process being completed in less than a minute, which is actually faster than refueling a conventional petrol car.

With networks of battery switching stations in and around cities, drivers would potentially have electric cars with unlimited ranges for long distance trips.

Better Place is partnering with governments and businesses around the world to accelerate this transition to sustainable transport. Retail customer deliveries of Renault’s Fluence ZE – the first electric car to operate in the Better Place network – are scheduled for the second quarter of 2012. The first battery switch stations have already been deployed in China, Denmark and Israel, with plans for additional networks in over 25 regions around the world.

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