Worldwide Deployment of Electric Cars
In the last 48 hours the international community has caught two separate glimpses that use of electric automobiles may become commonplace in the relatively near future.
Earlier today, the European Union announced plans to mandate development of infrastructure to support electric car usage throughout the continent.
“Without strong standardisation work, I think it will be difficult to develop a market for electric cars,” European Union industry commissioner Antonio Tajani said as he launched his EU green vehicles strategy.
“This is not an abstract concept, it’s a set of 40 practical actions,” he added.
The plan would have separate elements geared toward encouraging development of a global electric car fleet and implementation of proper safety measures.
“In 2010, the automotive industry enters into a defining phase for its future success,” said Tajani. “Including all types of vehicles in the strategy will ensure that this parallel approach will strike the right balance between securing the future competitiveness of our car manufacturing industry without compromising our long-term goals for the reduction of greenhouse gases and other pollutants.”
The EU is feeling pressure to quickly take significant strides to prepare for a world where manufacturers are on the precipice of mass producing electric cars to a consumer market that is reportedly hungry for greener vehicles.
Car industry group ACEA claims that European competitors, such as the United States, Japan and China, were already one step ahead.
“European decision makers need to act quickly,” said Marianne Wier of Better Place Denmark. “These are already a reality, with 24 models planned to be on the road by 2012.
“Better Place is 6 months away from testing their complete solution for charging infrastructure, and 15 months away from a commercial launch in Denmark and Israel,” she added.
On April 27, Better Place unveiled its Tokyo Electric Taxi Project – featuring its innovative rapid battery changing system – to Japanese media. According to Better Place founder and CEO Shai Agassi, battery changing, rather than battery charging, may serve as the best means for making widespread use of electric cars a viable option for consumers.
The project focuses on a 90 day test station that allows taxi drivers to exchange a depleted battery with a fully charged one in less time then it takes to fill up at an LPG station. The obvious benefit of this advancement is that battery replacement in under two minutes enables cars, or in this case taxis, to get back on the streets as quickly as they could in conventional gas stations rather than relying on recharging the battery which usually is a far lengthier process.
If the test is successful, it could have global ramifications. “The model we establish here can be easily copied in other Asian cities. We want Tokyo to be the green taxi capital,” said Kiyotaka Fujii, president of Better Place Japan. Better Place’s website features a video that displays the battery changing station process.
Taxicabs seem like an optimal place to test an emission-free vehicle alternative. Because taxis are running for far more hours per day than standard consumer automobiles, they average far greater emissions per vehicle. Taxis in Tokyo are responsible for 20% of their total vehicle emissions despite representing a mere 2% of the city’s passenger cars.
Additionally, Tokyo’s cab fleet is significant, even by comparison to other large municipalities. Tokyo boasts approximately 60,000 taxis, more than in New York, Paris, and London combined.
Better Place plans to conduct further tests in Israel and Denmark in October, 2010.