Better Place, the leading electric vehicle services provider, has announced a plan to bring a switchable battery, electric taxi program to the cities of San Francisco and San Jose. An endeavor undertaken with the support of the U.S. Department of Transportation through the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, it is hoped that the new service will solidify the Bay Area’s title of “EV Capital of the U.S.

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Over the next three years the new project will see the implementation of four battery switch stations in the San Francisco to San Jose corridor, creating an infrastructure able to support a fleet of EV taxis.  This fleet will give Bay Area residents clean, affordable travel, while also helping the state meet their climate policy goals. It is hoped that electric taxis will become a future model for many major US cities, replacing the gas-powered taxis responsible for harmful greenhouse gas (GHG) and other tailpipe emissions.

Due to the constant circulation of taxis, vehicles will require near instant charge and a readily available change of batteries so as to maintain efficient service to the public. Waiting three or four hours for a taxi to charge is not an option, so instead batteries will be switched out and replaced – this can be done in less time than it takes to refuel a traditional taxi.

“Today marks a significant milestone in our march towards accelerating the mass adoption of electric cars in the Bay Area. This program will enable us to reach a broad audience and demonstrate a solution that offers drivers a more convenient option than today’s gasoline cars,” said Jason Wolf, VP of North America for Better Place. “The battery switch model is gaining momentum globally. Our Tokyo EV taxi program has proven to be an example to major metropolitan areas around the world, and we are pleased that the MTC recognized this and the Bay Area is taking a leadership position in the U.S.”

Better Place has already launched an EV taxi program in Tokyo, which is supported by the Japanese government. The pilot project began on April 26, 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 over 25,000 miles using battery switch as the primary means of “instant charge” or range extension. If this system can be transferred to the US, then it could dramatically impact the US’ emissions and oil consumption.

+ Better Place

via Business Wire