VHS or Beta? Blu Ray or HD? The race for supremacy in technological innovation is often the stuff of legend and the question of whether electric cars will more likely be "refueled" by plugging in or by swapping discharged batteries for fresh ones is no different. Well, maybe a little different. In the case of EVs, it is quite possible the two technologies, although competing on some level, could both win and flourish simultaneously.
The obvious advantage of pulling a car into a station and swapping a spent battery for a fresh one is the amount of time it takes compared to plugging-in and charging. As demonstrated in the video below, cars employing the Better Place model can be completely rejuvenated with a fresh battery in just over a minute. In terms of charging stations, so-called Level Two chargers (fast-charging DC stations) will charge a battery in 10-25 minutes, usually only recharging a battery to 80 percent of capacity in that time.
But because of the specific infrastructure needed to make the switching station model work, Better Place cars like the Renault Fluence ZE can also be plugged-in and charged via Level One (slow-charging) and Level Two like the Nissan LEAF, Chevy Volt and other EVs currently on the American market or headed that way.
Currently, Better Place is focusing on the populations dense markets of Israel and Denmark, but the company's founder and CEO, Shai Agassi said in a recent interview with NPR that he hopes to prove the viability of the switching station concept in corridors in Australia and then in the U.S.