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Better Place showcases first Europe station

First of several electric vehicle battery-switching stations planned for Denmark gets installed just outside Copenhagen.

A Better Place swapping station for taxis in Tokyo. Better Place

Better Place held a demonstration at the first of 20 Better Place battery-switching stations planned for Denmark over the next year, the company announced today.

The station was installed in Gladsaxe, a town outside of Copenhagen. Its inaugural battery swap was conducted on a Renault Fluence Z.E.

Better Place offers a subscription service in which drivers of electric cars have their depleted car batteries swapped for a fully recharged one at any member station, in lieu of waiting 15-30 minutes for a partial charge, or hours to fully recharge at a charging station.

The company launched its first retail store in Denmark in March, along with a Better Place subscription deal for Danish drivers who purchase or lease the Renault Fluence Z.E. It already offers services in Israel and in Tokyo, where the Better Place system is used to quickly service taxis.

Better Place compares its battery-switching stations to an automated car wash, and they do resemble one.

Drivers pull up to the switching station and swipe a card that identifies both their car and their membership to Better Place. They then drive into the switching station and onto a special track that aligns the car in place much like one does at an automated car wash.

A robotic platform slides under the car from below, unbolts and removes the car's discharged battery recessed in the bottom of the car. Then that robotic platform slides away, carrying the old battery with it. Another robotic platform slides underneath the car with a fully charged battery and installs it.

The entire process takes less than 2 minutes (see video).

Better Place then recharges the removed depleted battery for use in another car.

Keep in mind, however, that Better Place's under-mount battery-swapping system is currently only compatible with certain cars. So far, that includes the Renault Fluence Z.E. and the Nissan Rogue SUV. Better Place also has a development deal with Chery, China's leading automaker.