For the Tokyo electric taxi project, three crossover taxis have been converted to run on an electric powertrain using batteries from A123 Systems, Better Place said Monday.
The 90-day test is using an automated battery-swapping station developed by Better Place and demonstrated last year in Yokohama, Japan.
There is only one such “switch station” in Tokyo now, and the city would need 300 for the entire fleet of 60,000 cabs on Tokyo streets — more than New York, London and Paris combined — to go electric, said Better Place Chief Executive Shai Agassi.
The battery switch station deployed in Tokyo represents a significant advancement over the Yokohama switch system demonstrated a year ago. The Tokyo switch station features the integration of battery storage and charging with optimal thermal management capabilities. The Tokyo switch station also features nearly continuous operation of switching batteries for the three vehicles while optimizing battery life and performance, which can be monitored in real time online.
The battery is a critical element of the EV and how it is managed and charged is crucial to its optimization. For heavy use vehicles such as electric taxis, the need for repeated rapid (5 minute fast) charging will degrade the lifespan and performance of the battery.
The industry is proposing various solutions to address extended range, but battery switch is the only feasible option—from the perspective of cost, flexibility (with the ability to manage charge time to less than 5 minutes), and technology—that will work in the near-term while offering a convenient, effective charging solution. Battery switch delivers an “instant charge” – a fully charged battery in less time than it takes to fill a fuel tank with petrol or recharge via other charging methods while 20-30 minute quick charge is impractical for such use.
The duration, durability and robustness of the battery switch process and battery resistance to degradation will all be demonstrated under actual operating conditions with vehicles that operate nearly continuously and thus drive much more than average passenger vehicles.[wzslider height=”400″ lightbox=”true”]