After announcing the completion of a three-month field test of its battery swapping system, Better Place has decided to keep the program running until at least late November. Three converted Nissan Rogues have been operating as taxis in central Tokyo, stopping by the Better Place quick change station for regular battery swaps. During the first three months of the program, the taxis accumulated over 25,000 miles and swapped batteries 2,122 times.

Those battery changes took an average of 59.1 seconds, considerably quicker than the average gas fill-up. Interestingly, the numbers say the Rogues are only going about 12.5 miles per swap. Hopefully, that figure means that taxi drivers have been bringing the vehicles in for swaps at every available opportunity to test the hardware. We'd hate to think that 12 miles is in any way representative of the actual range. Quick changes, even under 60 secnds, don't help much if you have to stop every 15 minutes.

The test program is currently suspended while Better Place engineers analyze data and make updates to the battery charging system. One change is that the charging rates will now be variable, with slower charging used to maximize battery life and faster charging only used when there is high demand for fresh batteries.

[Source: Better Place]


PRESS RELEASE

Better Place Extends Tokyo Trial for Additional Three Months

August 25, 2010

Better Place Extends Tokyo Trial for Additional Three Months

TOKYO (August 25, 2010) – Better Place today announced that it has extended its switchable-battery electric vehicle (EV) taxi pilot in Tokyo to operate through the end of the year. By extending the trial, Better Place will be able 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, we hope to gain further insights into the battery performance and durability of the switch station itself, which will be invaluable as we move towards commercial launch later next year in Israel and Denmark."

While a comprehensive analysis of the 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
• 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. In addition, 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

Consumers and visitors to Tokyo will continue to be able to ride in the EV taxis during the extended trial by signing up at the Mori Tower in Roppongi Hills.

Details of the Extended Operation
• Period of extension: September 1 - November 19, 2010
• Number of exchangeable-battery EV taxis: 3
• Taxis may be boarded at the dedicated EV traffic lane at Roppongi Hills (Mori Tower South Elevator 1F Entrance).
• Operation from 8:00 a.m. to 1:30 a.m.
• Note: arrangements for alternate vehicles may be made depending on destination and taxi battery charge status.

Battery switch station
• Located at 1-19-4, Toranomon, Minato-ku, Tokyo
• Battery switch requires approximately 60 seconds from start to finish.
• EV taxi position, remaining battery power, temperature and other factors will be monitored in real time to optimize battery management.

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. The Better Place network addresses historical limitations to adoption by providing unlimited driving range in a convenient and accessible manner. The company works with all parts of the transportation ecosystem, including automakers, battery suppliers, energy companies, and the public sector, to create a compelling solution. Based in California and privately held, Better Place has operating companies in Israel, Denmark, and Australia. More information is available at http://www.betterplace.com.