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Don’t Charge That Electric Car Battery; Just Change It

Better Place is building a network of electric car battery changing stations throughout Israel. The idea is to make changing a spent electric battery as easy as pulling into the gas station for gasoline. Here, Better Place CEO Shai Agassi is shown in front of a cutaway model of an electric car at the company’s showroom in Tel Aviv earlier this month.
text size A A A August 21, 2012
It looks like a bright new car wash, but it’s a battery swapping station for electric cars in Israel. When a vehicle pulls up, it is slowly pulled through a conveyor. The spent battery is taken out and replaced with one that is fully charged. The entire process takes less than five minutes.

Better Place, a company based in Palo Alto, Calif., is the company that wants to spread this model around the world. It’s taken several years and it’s been a bumpy ride, but the company has now established a network of car battery replacement stations in Israel and Denmark.

The idea is to make battery replacement as quick and simple as filling up at a gas station, and thereby convince people that owning an electric car is just as convenient as owning one that’s gas powered. If it works as planned, drivers of electric cars would no longer have to wait hours to recharge their electric batteries at an outlet.

Amit Lechim, who has had one of the Renault electric cars for about a month, says using the battery-switching station is proving relatively easy.

“Once you get used to it, it’s wonderful, wonderful,” he says. While the car is expensive to run, he says, at least he doesn’t have to pay for fuel.

“And with the crazy prices of the gas, it’s nice to know that you know how much you are going to pay,” says Lechim.

A gallon of premium gas currently runs more than $9 in Israel, which has some of the most expensive gasoline in the world, according to a report published by Bloomberg last week.
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