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Europe's First EV Battery Switch Station

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On: Wed, Jul 6, 2011 at 4:17PM | By: Chris Salamone

Europe's First EV Battery Switch Station

I recently stumbled upon an article from a San Antonio-based newspaper which claimed that electric vehicles could never be commercially viable until range length could be improved. More specifically, the author had trouble making his daily commute to work in a Nissan Leaf. Although not every state has the same breath of roadways, EVs in general really need to reach beyond 100 or 200 miles before the average US consumer is willing to make the switch from gasoline to electric and give the boot to range anxiety. It’s already scary enough not hearing the rumbling and roaring of a V8 beneath the hood. Losing precious miles, in addition to throaty exhaust, makes an unlikely success out of the emerging EV market. However, range concerns are being dealt a swift kick to the vitals with Europe’s newest EV innovation—the switchable battery station.

About a week ago, Better Place opened the very first EV battery switch station in Europe. Although some stations were already operational in Israel, this Copenhagen, Denmark station is significant because it shows that the ‘battery switch’ concept can work on a larger and more international scale. Does that mean we’re likely to see a Better Place station opening in Malibu? Probably not; the only mass produced vehicle which operates on switchable batteries is the Renault Fluence ZE.

Nineteen additional stations are planned to open throughout Denmark in the next year. Denmark’s government is throwing a bone to the EV market by encouraging EV sales with tax breaks. Currently, national taxes make purchasing a new car incredibly expensive… some sources indicating a 300% price hike. However, government incentive plans for EVs waive taxes on new electric car purchases. Cross government and corporate collaboration is probably the main reason why Renault and Better Place are able to launch such a large project in Denmark.

Better Place also offers EV Driver software in new Renault vehicles or a mobile phone app to help locate switchable battery stations when the juice is running low. The whole ‘battery switch’ process takes about 1 minute and functions something like a car wash—drivers pull up to an automated tunnel. The big question remains: will switchable batteries prove to be the most cost-effective and range increasing way of making EVs internationally viable or do these stations only prove how impractical it would be to consider switchable EVs on a large scale? Time will tell.

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