Smartphone owners know all about battery anxiety: Spend too long playing games and the battery icon flashes ”empty” the next time you need to make a call. For drivers of electric cars, the problem is more serious: They can’t just walk over with a 20-liter jug of electricity from the nearest charging station, and even if they do manage to glide into a station on their last electrons, it could take hours to top off a car battery.
Silicon Valley start-up Better Place claims it can change all that. Its recent trial in Tokyo allowed drivers to switch batteries at stations in minutes, letting them continue their journey and leaving the recharging to Better Place. The company might also help Japan find something to do with its declining number of gas stations, says Minoru Nakamura, head of the crude oil distribution unit of Japan’s ministry of economy, trade, and industry.
See the rest of this news story, and a 4-minute audio slideshow, at IEEE Spectrum’s website: [html]