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Better Place, known for its somewhat controversial EV battery swapping idea has now introduced a software-based solution that could eliminate or greatly diminish the range anxiety associated with electric vehicles. Though battery swapping has met with opposition, the software called Safety Net has garnered rather widespread approval.
Better Place designed the software with a single goal in mind, calming the fears of owners of EVs who believe drained batteries will leave them stranded in the middle of nowhere. The software will connect EVs to a network of Better Place plug-in stations or battery swapping depots. Though the company states the software is designed to work specifically with Better Place charging areas, they do admit that adapting it to include other charging stations would be a simple process.
The Better Place software allows the driver to plot a route or destination in their EV. The real life data including range will be displayed including range to the nearest available charging station. With the incorporated real-time traffic feature, the system will change a route to avoid congested areas and will navigate you to the charging station when the range reaches a critical level, safely getting you in for a charge before the batteries are depleted.
In theory, the software will work. But the reality at this point is that the charging infrastructure in most major cities is virtually non-existent. The software can't lead you to a charging station if it doesn't exist!
Infrastructure or not, EVs are coming. Globally, over 30 different EVs will be on the roads in some form by 2012 and most are expected to have a range between 80 and 300 miles. The range, suitable for commuting, is not suitable for use as one's only vehicle until fast charging become commonplace and distances between charging stations become far shorter.
Better Place is planning ahead as their estimates show that EVs will outnumber hybrids and plug-in hybrids within a short amount of time. The company is banking on the dominance of EVs and the success of both its battery swapping idea and Safety Net software to be the choice for EV drivers in the near future.
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