$10 Million Bay Area Initiative to Run for Ten Years
The California Energy Commission is adding $3 million to a San Francisco Bay Area project that’s to eventually see trials of more than 60 battery electric taxis serving San Francisco and San Jose, and the Silicon Valley area between, all employing the Better Place battery-swap concept to boost productivity.
“Electric taxis are the gateway to clean cities,” Better Place said in first publicizing the program two years ago (F&F, November 8, 2010).
Under the first phase of the project, two Better Place battery-swap facilities will be built, with candidate locations including San Francisco and the San Francisco airport, and San Jose and the San Jose airport. Six battery electric Coda vehicles with be modified for battery-switching, with Michigan’s FEV tapped for engineering services.
The Coda vehicles are expected to continue to use lithium batteries from the company’s main Chinese stakeholder, Lishen.
The project was previously awarded some $7 million by agencies including MTC, the Oakland, Calif.-based Metropolitan Transportation Commission.
A second phase will involve as many as four more battery-swap installations, and 55 more cars, with vehicle supplier or suppliers to be determined.
‘A Big Opportunity Here’
Program overseers envision an overall effort lasting some ten years, says Damian Breen of the Bay Area Air Quality Management District, which is administering the CEC grant.
“If the price is right and the product works as advertised, there’s a big opportunity here to reduce greenhouse gases from that type of fleet,” Breen told F&F.
Separately, Better Place is conducting a taxi trial using Renault Fluence Z.E. vehicles at Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport. The Schiphol taxis have “Quickdrop” battery systems, an option offered by Renault where Better Place battery switching is available.
“The Schiphol-Amsterdam corridor is one of the most demanding routes in the world,” Better Place says, “with more than 700,000 taxi trips originating from Schiphol each year.
Expanding in Amsterdam
“Applying battery switch technology to electric taxis allows them to operate virtually around the clock without the need to stop, plug in, and charge. The project showcases that with the right solution, high usage vehicles such as taxis can make the switch to electric cars.”
The Schiphol project is supported under the European Union’s TEN-T program. It initially involves ten Fluence Z.E. vehicles. Better Place said last month that it’s planning a second battery-swap station to expand their service area.
The technology is also in service in Israel and Denmark.
MTC, Brenda Dix, 510-817-5927; [email protected]
Coda, Northern California fleet sales Patty Youngdale, 925-673-5290; mobile 925-899-8140; [email protected]
Better Place, Ms. Vandana Bali, 415-350-3729; [email protected]
Source: CEC, Fleets & Fuels reportage