Two weeks ago, we covered the GoingGreen conference in San Francisco. Of several featured startups, Better Place received a highlighted mention in the Green Automobiles and Transportation category. Now the company is in the news again, with a special initiative to the Bay Area.

The Palo Alto-based company will partner with the cities of San Francisco and San Jose to build a switchable battery electric taxi program. According to Better Place’s Wednesday press release, the program will expand to four battery switch stations that support the zero-emission taxi fleet over the next three years.
This measure hopes to “cement the region’s position as the ‘EV Capital of the US,’” as well as give residents and visitors their first EV experience. Since taxis are both high visibility and high literal mileage, there is a potential that this will help California and the Bay Area region meet their “aggressive energy and climate policy goals when scaled to the entire region.” The impact is larger since taxis are driven nearly continuously, making up for their smaller number as compared to personal cars.

Better Place considers their EV taxi program in Tokyo this past April a success. The pilot project was undertaken in cooperation with Tokyo’s largest taxi operator, Nihon Kotsu Co. As an example for major metropolitan areas around the world, Better Place North America’s VP Jason Wolf considers the battery switch model to be a more convenient option than contemporary gasoline cars.

For the Bay Area program, several organizations and communties will build an EV leadership with partnership:

  • Taxi operators and car sharing programs: Yellow Cab Cooperative, Yellow Checker Cab Inc.
  • Regional and state agencies: Bay Area Air Quality Management District
  • Consumer and EV organizations: Plug-in America, AAA Northern California
  • Leading regional business/community organizations: Silicon Valley Leadership Group, Bay Area Council, Bay Area Climate Collaborative, Joint Venture: Silicon Valley Network, and others
  • San Francisco Public Utilities Commission
By Ivory King