Tokyo Tests Electric Taxis

Sponsored by the Japanese government, Better Place is ready to test electric taxis for the first time in Japan. Using swappable batteries that can be replaced within the same amount of time it takes to fill a tank of gas, there will be four taxis participating in the test run. Japan has a huge taxi market, larger than New York, Hong Kong or Paris and these taxis contribute as much as 20% of the CO2 emissions in the city.

The key feature in this test run is the use of battery-swapping technology. This is the first time that battery swapping technology is being used in a real world scenario. Although the test run will launch with only four cars, the Japanese government along with Better Place hope to convert all of Tokyo’s taxis to electricity within the next decade. Better place plans to build as many as 100 of its $500,000 battery swapping stations. Better place also hopes to build a swapping station to facilitate the test run that will serve the Roppongi Hills neighborhood of central Tokyo.

Taxis are a great place to start testing of technologies such as battery swapping since they operate from a central location; the battery swapping station and the economies of scale provided by the Tokyo taxi industry makes the conversion and operation of these taxis more cost-effective.

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