Better Place, with support from the US Department of Transportation via the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, has committed to bring a switchable battery, electric taxi program to the Bay Area in partnership with the cities of San Francisco and San Jose.
Over the next three years, the program will deploy and operate four battery switch stations in the San Francisco to San Jose corridor to support a fleet of zero-emission, switchable taxis.
Since taxis drive nearly continuously, they require instant charge of their battery to maintain quality of service and continue serving the public. Given the taxi business, waiting three to four hours for standard charge is not an option. Battery switch is the only option that allows the driver to recharge in less time than it takes to refuel, the means of range extension for today’s gas-powered taxis, according to the company.
Better Place has been successfully operating an EV taxi program in Tokyo, supported by the Japanese government. The pilot project began on 26 April, in cooperation with Nihon Kotsu Co., Tokyo’s largest taxi operator, and focuses on the feasibility of an automated battery switch process as means for taxis to have instant, zero-emission, range extension. In the first 90 days of the trial, the EV taxis drove more than 25,000 miles (40,000 km) using battery switch as the primary means of instant charge or range extension.
This program will be developed in partnership with key regional stakeholders and organizations that are working together to build Bay Area EV leadership, including:
- Taxi operators and car sharing programs: Yellow Cab Cooperative, Yellow Checker Cab Inc.;
- Regional and state agencies: Bay Area Air Quality Management District;
- Consumer and EV organizations: Plug-in America, AAA Northern California;
- Leading regional business/community organizations: Silicon Valley Leadership Group, Bay Area Council, Bay Area Climate Collaborative, Joint Venture: Silicon Valley Network, and others; and
- San Francisco Public Utilities Commission.
Better Place says that it remains on-track in developing and deploying countrywide networks of charging and battery-switching infrastructure in its first two markets, Israel and Denmark, for commercial launch in late 2011. Better Place will begin its initial network deployment in Canberra, Australia in late 2011 as part of a nationwide infrastructure roll out.