Better Place,  a California based developer of electric-car charging stations whose activities are often reported in ACE, continues its efforts to expand operations worldwide by announcing today that it will partner with a Japanese taxi company next year to test the feasibility of battery-swapping in Tokyo.

Three battery-powered taxis will be converted from internal combustion to all-electric propulsion,  and a battery swapping station will be built in the city to study driving range, battery deterioration, and timing for swapping, the company said in a statement today.  Masamune Mimura, vice president of the company’s local unit, announced that within the next decade Better Place hopes to “electrify” all taxis in Tokyo and build 100 charging stations in the city.  Better Place also plans to target car-rental and car- sharing businesses, he said.

Better Place is currently racing to be the first large developer of electric-car infrastructure and will start operating 100 battery exchange stations in Israel next year as well as exploring development efforts in other countries such as AustraliaCanada and Japan.

The company says that the Tokyo project, to be undertaken from January to March, will be funded by Japan’s Agency for Natural Resources and Energy.