Major Milestone: Israel gets electric car charging station

Israeli electric car pioneer unveils its first battery-changing station, says process takes five minutes – quicker than filling up gas

Electric car company Better Place has unveiled its first battery-changing station, a major milestone in the company’s planned rollout of the world’s first nationwide battery-charging grid.

At Wednesday’s demonstration in Kiryat Ekron, cars drove atop a sliding panel that opened to reveal a deep pit. From underneath, a robotic arm replaced drained batteries with fully charged ones.

Better Place says the process takes about five minutes – quicker than filling up at a gas station. CEO Shai Agassi says 40 stations will be built throughout Israel this year.

Better Place is building a network of charging stations in markets around the world, beginning with Israel and Denmark. Its partner, Renault, is making the cars, which are to be sold in Israel by the end of 2011