Better Place 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.
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.
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.