THE company promoting the mass adoption of electric cars, Better Place, has just received an award from the Japanese government to conduct a pilot project in Tokyo for the world’s first electric taxis with switchable batteries.
Not so long ago the company got some money to make Canberra Australia’s first city with an electric vehicle infrastructure.
The Tokyo electric taxi pilot will involve the construction of a permanent Better Place battery switch site in Central Tokyo. This project will allow for testing of battery switching duration, vehicle range, and vehicle battery life under heavy use operating conditions.
Following is the media release:
TOKYO (August 26, 2009) – Better Place today announced that it has received an award from the Japanese government to conduct a pilot project in Tokyo for the world’s first electric taxis with switchable batteries. Better Place will partner with Tokyo’s largest taxi operator, Nihon Kotsu, in the project commissioned by the Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry’s Natural Resources and Energy Agency. The project, which comes on the heels of the company’s successful battery switch demonstration earlier this year in Yokohama, is slated to begin in January 2010.
“Japan continues to be a leader in automotive engineering and innovation, and the government’s funding of Better Place for the world’s first battery switchable electric taxis is a testament to the country’s commitment to sustainable transportation,” said Kiyotaka Fujii, President of Better Place Japan and Head of Business Development for Asia Pacific. “This puts the Better Place battery switch system to use in a real-world application involving heavy-use vehicles that drive much more than the average passenger car. It also enables us to begin to convert taxis to clean, zero emission transportation.”
Japanese taxis represent a mere two percent of all passenger vehicles on the road in Japan, yet they emit approximately 20 percent of all carbon dioxide (CO2) from vehicles due to their average distance traveled in a given day. In Tokyo alone, there are approximately 60,000 taxis, a far greater number than in New York, Paris, or Hong Kong. The outcome of the Tokyo pilot program for electric taxis could point to opportunities in other urban centers. Additionally, success within the heavy use taxi industry will help to ensure efficient technology transfer to the mass market, where daily mileage is far less on average.
The electric taxi pilot will showcase the everyday use applications of the Better Place model, and will involve the construction of a Better Place battery switch site at a location in the Roppongi Hills area in Central Tokyo. Up to four newly modified and fully operational electric taxis will be operated from an existing taxi lane for environmentally-friendly vehicles at the Roppongi Hills complex.
Tokyo R&D Co., a specialist in automotive engineering and production, will supply the EVs based on commercially available vehicles with the necessary battery latch mechanisms and switchable batteries. Tokyo R&D also will be involved with building the battery switch site and provide diagnostic software for the pilot.
The vehicles will be put into standard taxi service by the Nihon Kotsu taxi company. Battery switching duration, vehicle range, and battery resistance to degradation will be tested under actual operating conditions.
The Tokyo taxi pilot brings Better Place one step closer to delivering a cleaner and more convenient refuelling experience for drivers worldwide.