Free electric cars?

Electric cars could soon be free. Well, free if you sign up for a six-year contract for batteries and charging, that is. A new company called Project Better Place aims to solve the biggest problems of electric cars — short range and long battery charge times. The company’s working with Renault to design a special electric car, similar to the Renault Z17 City Car concept pictured above.

To power this pocket rocket, the project has raised $200 million to build a huge infrastructure of battery-charging locations in Israel and Denmark, replacing about one out of six parking spaces in the countries with the charging stands for its electric cars, letting drivers charge up their batteries on the go.

For instant replenishment, there’s also a system akin to swapping out propane tanks for gas grills, using a network of 125 refueling stations where robotic mechanisms quickly replace easily-swapped batteries with freshly charged ones. Sounds like a great idea for a smaller country, but it’s going to take a much bigger investment to get something like this going in countries with gigantic geography.

Via Technology Review