Electric taxis with swappable battery packs are slated to come to the San Francisco Bay Area next year through a U.S. Department of Transportation-funded project.
The $6.9 million, three-year project will result in 61 electric-drive taxi cabs and four stations where depleted batteries can be swapped in for fresh ones, according to Better Place, which was awarded the grant. Switching stations will be available in the corridor between San Francisco and San Jose, with the first ones installed by the end of 2011, according to Better Place.
It's part of $14 million in grants the Transportation Department is expected to announce later today related to electric vehicles.
Because of their intensive use, taxis are a good candidate for using electric vehicles to reduce pollution, a Better Place representative said. Since they typically can't take long breaks for charging, they fit the battery-swapping model advocated by Better Place, she added. The actual electric cars for the project have not yet been chosen.
Earlier this year, Better Place installed battery-switching stations for electric taxis in Tokyo, which will be a model for the Bay Area program. Better Place developed the system where cars drive up a ramp and robotic machines automatically remove a battery from a car and insert a freshly charged battery within a few minutes.