Better Place, the startup that allows battery swapping for the growing number of electric vehicles on the road, opened its first center in Europe March 3.

The center, opened in partnership with Renault, is located in the Danish capital Copenhagen, a city already associated with being environmentally friendly thanks to last year's COP15 climate change conference.

When the first Better Place-enabled electric vehicles hit the road, they will be able to head to the center and quickly switch their old battery for a full one when running low, thus eliminating the need for a long charge time.

The switch, which takes less time than a stop at a gas station, is made by a robotic unit after the driver has driven onto a special platform, meaning that the car's occupants can remain in the vehicle before simply driving out again.

With range and charge times some of the biggest concerns over new electric vehicles that require charging such as the Nissan Leaf, Better Place believes that its swap-stations hold the answer for urban drivers - it's already testing them in Tokyo with a fleet of electric taxis.

The first European deployment is in partnership with Renault because the French automaker's Fluence Z.E. is likely to be one of the first Better Place-enabled vehicles in Europe when it's released later this year.

Renault will offer the Fluence from €27,496 and Better Place will offer drivers one of five packages based on the amount that they drive, ranging from €199 a month to €399 (which includes a €1,341 fee for installation of a home charger too).

See the battery switch in action: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OHHvjsFm_88

http://www.betterplace.com

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