Has Israel Finally Made the Electric Car Usable With the Help of Robots?

By Sam Gibbs on at

Electric cars are pretty awesome for the most part. Like-for-like they're more powerful; putting down maximum power from the moment you hit the loud pedal. They're "green" too, I guess, but range has always been an issue. What if you could just park in a robotic garage for five minutes and get your old, depleted battery swapped for a freshly charged new one, ready to hit the road? That's what Israel's doing.

The system uses the Renault Fluence ZE, which is a battery-powered slightly larger Megane-with-a-boot, basically, but the special thing about the Fluence ZE is that you can swap out the battery. In fact, if you ever bought a Fluence ZE, you wouldn't actually buy the battery, you simply rent it. That means the car itself costs about the same as a normal, petrol or diesel, car to buy in the first place.

A company called Better Place has set up a network of robotic switch stations, which swap out your drained battery for you in about five minutes. All you have to do is drive in and let the robots get to work. The battery weighs some 250kg, so it's not a light task, but after the swap you'll have another 115-mile range at your disposal, which is more than enough to get you to the next swap station or your destination.

You pay a rental fee for your battery to Better Place, which is based on the number of miles you do. Currently the average cost in Israel is just £54 a month, which is pretty cheap when you think about how much it'd cost to run a petrol or diesel car for a month.

Apparently, Better Place is currently rolling out switch stations in Denmark and the Netherlands, so it's not limited to Israel either. While Electric cars are almost inevitably the future of our personal transport, until now, range and charge time have been major stumbling blocks. Let's hope Better Place rolls out its network in the UK too, because I'd love to be able to swap my diesel for an electric, even if it's not a beastly Tesla. [BBC]

Image credit: Better Place