Better Place Electric-Car Battery Swapping: Live Report

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Thread: Better Place Electric-Car Battery Swapping: Live Report

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    Better Place Electric-Car Battery Swapping: Live Report

    Better Place Electric-Car Battery Swapping: Live Report
    Green Car Reports
    May 11, 2012
    by Nikki Gordon-Bloomfield


    Electric-car infrastructure firm Better Place has spent the past few years creating some serious waves in the electric car world with grandiose claims that it can make electric cars as convenient to use as gasoline ones.

    Alongside its fully integrated smart-grid network of charging stations, battery packs and cars, Better Place is best known for its concept of battery swap stations, where cars fitted with appropriate battery packs can exchange a discharged pack for a fully-charged one in less time than it takes to fill up an average car with gasoline.

    But does the technology work? How does battery swapping work, and what’s it like to drive through a battery swap station?

    To find out, we were invited to Israel, where Better Place is in the finishing stages of testing 40 battery swap stations which it hopes will turn Israelis away from gasoline and onto electric cars forever.

    Full article and video available at link.

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    Re: Better Place Electric-Car Battery Swapping: Live Report

    I listened to an interview with one of their executives on the This Week In Tech podcast network. http://twit.tv/show/green-tech-today/24 ( Note that the host, while intelligent, has a very annoying voice. )

    I think the basic idea makes a lot of sense - people pay a small monthly fee and then can swap batteries quickly at a charging station, making the effective range of their electric car go from "25 mile radius around my house" to "25 mile radius around my house and a network of battery swap stations". As long as there are enough swap stations, you're all set.

    But in order for it to be worth the investment, an awful lot of people need to buy electric cars. I just don't see that happening, even in places where gas is incredibly expensive.

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    Re: Better Place Electric-Car Battery Swapping: Live Report

    Until batteries can reach a 300 mile range (more or less the average for a gas car) in a normally sized/shaped car, no one will be taking long trips with a BEV, which makes these swap-stations moot. Having to swap batteries on a near hourly basis would be insane.

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    Re: Better Place Electric-Car Battery Swapping: Live Report

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael_S View Post
    But in order for it to be worth the investment, an awful lot of people need to buy electric cars. I just don't see that happening, even in places where gas is incredibly expensive.
    Additionally, not only do they need volume, they'll need lots of margin, just to cover all that overhead.
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    Re: Better Place Electric-Car Battery Swapping: Live Report

    I thought I read that better places installs a charger @ your house and adds an extra charge on top of your Utility rate + a monthly fee to "rent" the batteries making the fluince ZE NOT a money saver
    And I wonder if better places can or designed in capacity to handle different EV cars or ONLY the Fluance ZE?

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    Re: Better Place Electric-Car Battery Swapping: Live Report

    Better Place also pays for the electricity..

    I predict this will be a great success in many places.. such as Israel, a small country with expensive fuel.

    The Fluenze sedan and Kangoo van sold in Europe can also benefit from battery swap, Renault calls their system "Quickswap", similar to PBP with a monthly leased battery. The overall cost is less than if you bought a comparable diesel and paid for the fuel... plus you dont have to worry about a degrading with age battery.

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    Re: Better Place Electric-Car Battery Swapping: Live Report

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael_S View Post
    I think the basic idea makes a lot of sense
    Does it? Everyone keeps saying what's limiting EV output currently is battery production capacity and cost. If that's the case, is a solution that, at the very least, requires doubles or triple the number of batteries in circulation (when you count the batteries sitting at swap stations) really a good idea?

    Once battery production is no longer a bottleneck, I can see the appeal of this model. But at that point, the battery technology may also be good enough that you rarely need a swap, which hinders the viability of swap stations. So I don't know...
    "The irony of the Information Age is that it has given new respectability to uninformed opinion" -- John Lawton

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    Re: Better Place Electric-Car Battery Swapping: Live Report

    Quote Originally Posted by emh View Post
    If that's the case, is a solution that, at the very least, requires doubles or triple the number of batteries in circulation (when you count the batteries sitting at swap stations) really a good idea?
    The swap stations will only hold about 10 batteries, with quick charging that is enough to supply a continuous stream of cars.

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    Re: Better Place Electric-Car Battery Swapping: Live Report

    Quote Originally Posted by HermPerez View Post
    The swap stations will only hold about 10 batteries, with quick charging that is enough to supply a continuous stream of cars.
    The range of most electrics today (70 miles or so) require swapping the battery every hour or so on a long highway drive. If the charging takes an hour, then you have 50% duty cycle at peak demand (e.g. holiday weekend), which means you need twice as many batteries in circulation as the number of vehicles. If charging takes more than an hour, then you need even more.

    Of course, if the charging time gets down to just a few minutes, this is not serious a problem. But if charging takes just a few minutes, there's no need to swap the batteries in the first place.
    "The irony of the Information Age is that it has given new respectability to uninformed opinion" -- John Lawton

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    Re: Better Place Electric-Car Battery Swapping: Live Report

    This will never work. It is meant to fleece the sheep. And make the fleeced feel good while they are being sheared.

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    Re: Better Place Electric-Car Battery Swapping: Live Report

    Quote Originally Posted by emh View Post
    The range of most electrics today (70 miles or so) require swapping the battery every hour or so on a long highway drive. If the charging takes an hour, then you have 50% duty cycle at peak demand (e.g. holiday weekend), which means you need twice as many batteries in circulation as the number of vehicles. If charging takes more than an hour, then you need even more.

    Of course, if the charging time gets down to just a few minutes, this is not serious a problem. But if charging takes just a few minutes, there's no need to swap the batteries in the first place.
    I too have a hard time understanding how this will work, but as far how many extra batteries would be needed, I think you'd actually need more, not only would they all have to be the same size, (or multiples of many sizes) but they need to be where the user needs them, and since everyone basically has a different starting point, and different range, the need would be in different places. You couldn't have a station on the highway every 70 miles, some would make it others would have to swap-out before they really need to. Even if it was just driving around town, can you imagine having to drive, maybe back-tracking 5 miles (10-20 minuets) just to refill your gas tank?

    Quote Originally Posted by staspeterson View Post
    This will never work. It is meant to fleece the sheep. And make the fleeced feel good while they are being sheared.
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    Re: Better Place Electric-Car Battery Swapping: Live Report

    In my opinion battery-powered EV vehicles will not make a sizable dent in automobile purchasing until range gets beyond 300 miles and recharging is roughly the time of a fuel fill-up and charging stations are nearly as numerous as gas stations. Even if we had fast swapping stations every 70 miles who wants to go on a trip and stop every 70 miles?

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    Re: Better Place Electric-Car Battery Swapping: Live Report

    Quote Originally Posted by emh View Post
    Does it? Everyone keeps saying what's limiting EV output currently is battery production capacity and cost. If that's the case, is a solution that, at the very least, requires doubles or triple the number of batteries in circulation (when you count the batteries sitting at swap stations) really a good idea?

    Once battery production is no longer a bottleneck, I can see the appeal of this model. But at that point, the battery technology may also be good enough that you rarely need a swap, which hinders the viability of swap stations. So I don't know...
    Well, I think dramatically superior batteries have been "just around the corner" since before 1900. So while I suspect the production scale will increase with demand, I don't believe that someone is going to invent a 500 mile range electric vehicle (aside from range-extended electric vehicles like the Volt) any time in the next ten years. I would love to be wrong, that's just my wild guess.

    But this is an acceptable alternative, provided they can get the cost lower or the cost of petroleum fuels increases a lot.

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    Re: Better Place Electric-Car Battery Swapping: Live Report

    Quote Originally Posted by emh View Post
    The range of most electrics today (70 miles or so) require swapping the battery every hour or so on a long highway drive.
    They fast charge the batteries as needed, but note that Israel is at most 200 miles long, and very narrow in places. Most of the people are in the northern 80 miles of the country.

    Yes its true, a pain in the neck for long distance highway trips.. luckily those are rare. At least Israel will lower its dependency on Arab oil, what about you?

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    Re: Better Place Electric-Car Battery Swapping: Live Report

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael_S View Post
    I don't believe that someone is going to invent a 500 mile range electric vehicle (aside from range-extended electric vehicles like the Volt) any time in the next ten years.
    The soon to be new Tesla modle S with the big battery pack will do about 450 miles, but at about 20 miles an hour.. the EPA will rate it at 265 miles for the average driver... 320 miles at 55mph.

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