Better place to extend Tokyo taxi trial



Better Place has extended its switchable-battery electric vehicle (EV) taxi pilot in Tokyo to operate through the end of the year.

The move will allow Better Place to further evaluate and optimize the design and integration of the components of the system including the battery switch station (BSS), the EV taxis, battery performance and charging as well as driver behavior and consumer acceptance.

The current trial is part of a program run by the Agency for Natural Resources and Energy of Japan's Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI). The pilot project began on April 26, in cooperation with Nihon Kotsu Co., Tokyo's largest taxi operator, and focuses on the feasibility of battery switch as means for taxis to have instant, zero emission, range extension.

The extension of the program has received approval from the Ministry's Agency for Resources and Energy, which will maintain its continued role in the project. Operations are to be temporarily suspended during August so that EV battery and onboard vehicle data can be analyzed and will resume again on September 1.

'Up to this point, there has been very little information about how an EV battery will perform in heavily used, real-world, taxi conditions. This program has provided us with critical insights into the battery performance in a switch model and switch station performance for the toughest customers - taxi drivers,' said Kiyotaka Fujii, President of Better Place Japan.

By extending this program, Better Place hopes to gain further insights into the battery performance and durability of the switch station itself, which will be invaluable as the company moves towards commercial launch later next year in Israel and Denmark.

While a comprehensive analysis of te data is still being conducted, some initial data points about the taxi project include:

  • 40,311 number of kilometers driven
  • Taxi drivers went through the switch station 2,122 number of times, many of which included one-off demonstrations for the hundreds of visitors who came to the center to experience the swtich
  • Average switch time 59.1 seconds
  • 3,020 passengers have ridden in the taxis

During the subsequent extension of operations, the following will be tested with each EV taxi and at the battery switch station with a view towards making actual operations a reality.

Recharging time to be optimized for batteries

Up until now, battery management has been handled under a unified system that integrates factors such as remaining onboard energy, the location of the EV taxi in question, current BSS battery recharging/storage status, and more.

New programming at BSS facilities will make it possible to optimize battery-charging rates based on temperatures and performance.

Rather than having battery-recharging rates managed manually, the facilities will be programmed to speed up or slow down recharging automatically for optimum charging process to extend battery life span and performance

About Better Place - Better Place, the leading electric vehicle services provider, is accelerating the global transition to sustainable transportation. Better Place is building the infrastructure and intelligent network to deliver a range of services to drivers, enable widespread adoption of electric vehicles, and optimize energy use.

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