Battery Swapping - The Way into the Future for the EV

Well, according to California-based company Better Place (BP), it can and does, in Israel. The mission of BP is to create a proper infrastructure for EVs, but aside from what we’ve already heard about charging stations and whatnot, BP is planning a different approach.
Better Place Swapping Station 1 photo
Photo: BP
The clever idea is battery swapping, which takes mere minutes, rather than the 5- to 8- hour charging times which can be realistically expected from a home plug. You just drive into one of the swapping stations scattered around Israel ( the birth place of BP’s founder, Shai Agassi ) and an automated process will remove the depleted battery and replace it with a freshly charged one.

This could enable electric car drivers to travel further, without the fear of running out of juice. The main advantage of Israel is that it’s relatively small country and commutes are short, and thus people rarely use the swapping stations when just driving in town. The swapping stations would come in handy when going from one town to another, swapping the battery pack in 5 minutes and then going back with no delay.

The idea is excellent, and with some specially-built Renault Fluence Z.E.s which can drop their battery pack very quickly, the system works like a treat. With 40 such stations already operating in Israel, it’s one of the first countries in the world where EVs are starting to make sense, both financially, as the Fluence is priced at a not-unreasonable €25,000 ($32,000), and as genuine alternative way to get around, which is cheaper, cleaner and with the 5-minute battery swap time it can now be worked into one’s busy daily routine without any compromises. We think it’s great!

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