Skip to Content

Battery Fill-Up

Better Place’s switching ­stations allow electric cars to swap ­batteries during long trips.
October 25, 2011

Gal Perl, a product manager at the Israeli-based company Better Place, disconnects his electric Renault Fluence from a charge point at his company’s parking lot in Rosh Ha’Ayin. He enters his next destination into the car’s computer—which quickly calculates that the 70-mile journey is longer than his battery’s charge level will allow. The computer maps out a route that passes a battery switching station operated by Better Place. There, an industrial robot will quickly change the car’s battery for a fully charged one that will last the rest of the trip.

SEE GALLERY

Better Place’s switching stations are an attempt to work around the limited battery capacity that is the biggest technological barrier to wider use of electric cars. Even the newest models cannot match the range of a conventional car with a full gas tank.

Better Place’s solution is to build networks encompassing charge points that drivers can use to recharge while they’re parked, and switching stations they can turn to if that charge runs out. The company’s robots can swap a depleted battery for a fresh one in less than four minutes, about the time it takes to fill a conventional car with gas. Recharging a car like Perl’s at a charge point takes up to eight hours.

In January the company will open networks in Israel and Denmark to serve hundreds of drivers. Renault has agreed to supply 100,000 of its cars for Better Place customers in those two countries by 2015. Users sign a service contract, similar to a cell-phone subscription, under which they get access to the switching stations and Better Place retains ownership of the batteries, an arrangement that reduces the cost of buying an electric car. A third network will launch in Australia in the second half of next year.

Keep Reading

Most Popular

Death and Jeff Bezos
Death and Jeff Bezos

Meet Altos Labs, Silicon Valley’s latest wild bet on living forever

Funders of a deep-pocketed new "rejuvenation" startup are said to include Jeff Bezos and Yuri Milner.

ai learning to multitask concept
ai learning to multitask concept

Meta’s new learning algorithm can teach AI to multi-task

The single technique for teaching neural networks multiple skills is a step towards general-purpose AI.

Professor Gang Chen of MIT
Professor Gang Chen of MIT

All charges against China Initiative defendant Gang Chen have been dismissed

MIT professor Gang Chen was one of the most prominent scientists charged under the China Initiative, a Justice Department effort meant to counter economic espionage and national security threats.

conceptual illustration showing various women's faces being scanned
conceptual illustration showing various women's faces being scanned

A horrifying new AI app swaps women into porn videos with a click

Deepfake researchers have long feared the day this would arrive.

Stay connected

Illustration by Rose WongIllustration by Rose Wong

Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review

Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.

Thank you for submitting your email!

Explore more newsletters

It looks like something went wrong.

We’re having trouble saving your preferences. Try refreshing this page and updating them one more time. If you continue to get this message, reach out to us at customer-service@technologyreview.com with a list of newsletters you’d like to receive.