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  •  Any thoughts on swappable batteries? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Lawrence

    Seems like there may be some advantages to uncoupling the "fuel" from the vehicle (yes, strictly speaking the battery is a fuel storage container, but bear with me).
    Rough idea:
    A standardized battery size.  For sake of argument, let's say 9" tall, 12" wide and 42" long.  (There could of course be a handful of different sizes, like "D" and "C" batteries).
    Battery stations, much like gas stations.  The "pumps" remove your depleted battery (or batteries) and replace it with one or more charged batteries.  "Pumps" are capable of reading the existing charge, as well as battery type and condition of the  currently onboard battery and credit your purchase accordingly.  So, I pay more when I came in with a 10% charged battery than I do when I come in with a 30% battery.

    Advantages:
    1. Convenience - refueling takes about as long as gasoline refueling
    2. Range - Can keep swapping batteries and driving. The wheels on your car can keep rolling down the road while your last "tank" of fuel (battery) is being refilled and you next "tank" awaits you at the next station.
    3. Upgradable - It sucks when you get a new phone or computer, just to have the more awesome thing hit the market next month.  Scale that feeling up to the purchase pice of a car and imagine the sad that folks might have when next year's batteries get a 20% boost in capacity or 10% reduction in weight.  If swappable, I can adopt the latest battery tech without throwing away my car.  (Maybe last year's batteries end up discounted at the stations, with the latest being priced like high octane fuel).
    4. Choice - If I usually drive 15 miles a day and recharge at home 90% of the time, I can opt for a lower capacity battery (or batteries), which reduces my weight considerably.  

    Example: imagine a standard sized sedan with a 180 mile range (at purchase) is stocked with 3 batteries size "x", capacity "60" (yeah, yeah the range varies with driving and vehicles type, but I had to give it some sort of name.)  If I am mostly doing in town errands and a short commute, I could leave two battery bays empty and shave a few hundred ponds off my curb weight.  A couple of years later, I go on a long road trip, I drop in 3 of those new size x, capacity "80"'s, giving my vehicle a 240 mile range.  After my trip, I return to a single "60".  A few years down the road, I find my self running 2 "80"'s most of the time, because even though I could get by on a pair of "60"s with my new commute, no station carries or accepts "60"s anymore.  They've all been recycled (they were really only "48"s but this time in the battery lifecycle anyway)

    Challenges (that I can see):
    1. Pricing: You purchase the charge. That part is easy.  But there would need to be some figuring on how to charge (and credit) the customer for the batteries themselves.  Who owns the batteries?  Are batteries constantly bought and sold at each refueling?  Do I get a monthly (or quarterly) bill for my battery rental (so many days x number of batteries x type of batteries (premium, standard, economy, etc) ?
    2. Infrastructure.  If many people do at least part of the charging at home or work, "refueling" at a station would be less frequent than with liquid fuel, thereby decreasing the incentive to install needed infrastructure.  Maybe stations are as common as those quick oil change places.

    Final thought:
    Would this be feasible for certain fleets, in an effort to introduce the technology?  School buses maybe, that could go back to garage during the school day to get "refueled"?

    "Keep your feet on the ground and keep reaching for the stars" --Casey Kasem

    by netop on Tue Nov 13, 2012 at 05:33:44 AM PST

    •  I don't think it's feasible now (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Lawrence

      A Better Place is trying this in Israel, but they have an insanely cushy government-mandated monopoly where you cannot install charging equipment from anyone else in your own home.  Also do you have any idea just how many battery packs would have to be swapped to power the 24 kW Leaf, let alone the super sized 85 kW Tesla?

      I could see this working when batteries can get much more charge in the same volume as they are now, or if swapping is infrequent.  However, vehicles would have to be redesigned for easy swapping of the packs.

      In capitalist America, bank robs you!

      by madhaus on Tue Nov 13, 2012 at 12:07:16 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  With the advent of quick-charging stations, (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      netop

      I think that battery swapping, except in limited application like with city or school buses, is pretty much dead in the water.

      "A candle loses nothing by lighting another candle" - Mohammed Nabbous, R.I.P.

      by Lawrence on Tue Nov 13, 2012 at 12:48:10 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Actually, the Model S battery pack IS swappable (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Lawrence, netop

      It was designed with the idea of a 5 minute battery swap.  

      Not by mere humans, but through some heavy machinery since the batteries are really heavy.

      However nobody has stepped up to the plate to handle the infrastructure issues associated with swapping out batteries.  And the pricing challenges are a huge problem.

      The design is there, but nobody is taking advantage of it.  Yet.

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