Electric Taxis With Switchable Batteries Debut in Japan

There are currently more than 60,000 taxis cruising around Japan, a number that accounts for 20 percent of the country's CO2 emissions. To promote environmental health, the Japanese government has joined with Better Place, a US firm specializing in electric vehicle development, to come up with a solution: electric taxis powered by replaceable batteries. Today, three of the taxis will begin their circuit during a 90-day experiment funded by Japan's energy agency.

In a blog entry written for Better Place's website, Kiyota Fujii, president of the firm's Japan unit, explains how the vehicles run continuously. Unlike many other EVs, which need long recharging periods after half a day's work, Better Place's taxis can make periodic stops at battery-exchanging stations. It takes less time to switch the batteries than it does to fill a conventional vehicle with gasoline.

Nihon Kotsu, Japan's largest taxi operator, has also partnered up with Better Place to provide drivers for the vehicles. Fujii said that he is certain that the city's experiment will encourage automakers around the world to follow suit by producing eco-friendly, economically-sustainable vehicles en masse.

Tokyo Electric Taxi Project

The electric taxi cruises through Ginza in Tokyo.Better Place

Tokyo Electric Taxi Project

Entrance to the battery switch station.Better Place

Tokyo Electric Taxi Project

The electric taxi passes through the battery switch station.Better Place

Tokyo Electric Taxi Project

Battery being lifted into the electric taxi during the battery switch process.Better Place

Tokyo Electric Taxi Project

Underbelly of the electric taxi during battery switch process.Better Place

Tokyo Electric Taxi Project

J17772 connector for charging the electric taxi. Batteries can be charged by plugging into a charge spot, but can also be charged off-board in the battery switch station.Better Place

Tokyo Electric Taxi Project

The electric taxi cruises through Tokyo.Better Place