Project Better Place battery swap - Click above for a hi-res image gallery

One minute, 13 seconds. That's how long it took for the whiz-bang battery switcher engineered by Better Place to remove a battery from the undercarriage of its Nissan demonstration SUV and replace it with another. That's faster than either the fastest fast charge or filling it up with regular. You don't even get out of your car! Sweet!

The demonstration was part of the official opening of a Better Place exhibit in Yokohama, Japan, as part of a 6-month feasibility study being conducted by the Ministry of the Environment. The Land of the Rising Sun would like a full 50-percent of the cars sold there to be electric-powered by 2020. Besides the battery swapper, the exhibit also has four Better Place charging stations installed and an array of solar panels from Sharp to provide electricity.

While the machinery that conducts the battery switcheroo looks impressively simple and concise and may convince many about the viability of the plan, we suspect it won't enough to silence all the critics of the Better Place model. You can find the official press release along with a video after the jump. Check it all out and let us know if you're persuaded in the comments.


Related GalleryBetter Place battery swap station

[Source: Better Place]




Press Release

Tuesday, 12 May 2009 Better Place Unveils First Automated Battery Switch for Japan EV Study Demos Charging Infrastructure for Fixed and Switchable Battery Electric Cars

Yokohama, Japan (May 12, 2009) -- Better Place today achieved a milestone in accelerating the mass-market adoption of electric vehicles by demonstrating the world's first battery switch technology along with electric car charging spots. This simple range extension technology delivers a cleaner, more convenient experience for drivers. Better Place was the only foreign company invited by the Japanese Ministry of Environment to demonstrate its switch technology, which provides a viable solution to make electric vehicles a reality by offering drivers virtually unlimited range.

Better Place showcased its battery switch platform today using a modified NISSAN electric crossover SUV to demonstrate how to switch a depleted battery for a fully charged one. The company also demonstrated its commitment to open network standards by charging a fixed battery, electric car, via one of four Better Place charge spots installed at the demonstration site. Recharging of the vehicle batteries is made possible by Sharp Corp. photovoltaic solar panels, creating a truly zero emission solution.

"Today marks a major milestone for the automotive industry as well as for Better Place," said Shai Agassi, Founder and CEO, Better Place. "For nearly a century, the automotive industry has been inextricably tied to oil. Today, we're demonstrating a new path forward where the future of transportation and energy is driven by our desire for a clean planet and a robust economic recovery fueled by investments in clean technology, and one in which the well-being of the automotive industry is intrinsically coupled with the well-being of the environment."

The Renault-Nissan Alliance is partnering with Better Place in Israel to enable zero-emissions mobility throughout the country by 2011. The realization of zero-emissions mobility in Israel will require the deployment of battery switch stations as well as a steady and reliable supply of vehicles adapted to accept the switchable-battery layout required by the Better Place business model. The project and the teams have been working closely together for the past two years and are excited about seeing the manifestation of their efforts in today's demonstration of the battery switch platform.

Better Place is committed to delivering a complete solution to drivers that includes in-car services, management systems and multiple ways for drivers to recharge their electric car including networks of charge spots and battery switch stations powered by renewable energy. The infrastructure offers drivers the same convenience to "top off" as they enjoy today with gasoline or petrol stations, with charge spots installed where you live, work, and shop, while battery switch stations are deployed for the exceptionally long drives.

"Japan has always been at the forefront of automotive engineering and design and maintains a strong sense of environmentalism," said Kiyotaka Fujii, President of Better Place Japan and Head of Business Development for Asia Pacific. "The launch of Japan's electric vehicle study is an important milestone in achieving a zero-emission transportation society, and our successful demonstration of charging vehicles with both fixed and switchable batteries is an important contribution towards moving the entire industry forward."

The automated switch process, which takes about a minute, is faster than filling a tank with gasoline, providing a cleaner, more convenient experience for drivers. The technology safely and quickly removes a depleted battery and transfers a fully charged battery into the vehicle. The process is seamless and automated, and the driver remains in the vehicle the entire time.

The system works with two robotic battery shuttles on an automated track system. One battery shuttle holds the fully charged battery, which will be inserted into the vehicle, while the other shuttle simply removes the depleted battery from the vehicle. At the end of the process, the track system returns the removed battery to a storage bay for recharging and preparation for use in another electric vehicle. The battery shuttles are designed to work with a wide variety of battery enclosure sizes and shapes for universal application to a range of electric vehicles.

The switch technology featured in the Yokohama exhibit will be further developed into production for the commercial switch stations, which will be deployed in Better Place markets around the world.

Better Place, the world's leading mobility operator, aims to end the world's dependence on oil for personal transportation by building a network for charging electric cars powered by renewable energy. Better Place enables markets to switch to a sustainable transportation model, reducing oil dependency and greenhouse gas emissions while fueling the "green" economy. With initial venture funding of $200 million, Better Place began deployment in Israel in 2008 and will begin operating the network of charge spots and battery switch stations in 2010. The company plans similar network deployments in Denmark, Australia, California, Hawaii and Ontario, Canada. With the network in place, Better Place buys batteries and clean electricity and sells miles/kilometers to provide drivers a convenient, affordable and sustainable alternative for mobility. More information is available at http://www.betterplace.com.