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July 13, 2008

SWAP IT OUT INSTEAD OF FILL IT UP

The post below on the electric dirtbike gives me the opportunity to bloviate (as if I need another reason) on my idea for a quick, easy transition from liquid fueled cars to battery. Here goes:

I have always thought that the ultimate solution to the battery problem for plug-in electric vehicles is an easy exchange system. This is how all battery powered devices work, including this new dirt bike. If you can swap spent batteries for fresh ones in about the same time it takes to fill the tank with gas, the barriers to plug in electrics evaporate.

Battery getting low? Pull into a recharge station, and into a bay that lines you up like one of those self service drive thru car washes. An underbody lift raises up to the spent battery pack, disconnects it, lowers it out, and lifts a recharged unit into place. You don't even get out of your car.

A probe checks the battery level, and charges your credit card for the exchange service fee, and for the electricity needed to fill the battery back up. You only pay for what you need. so you don't have to worry about trying to use every last watt to get full value from a recharge fee, risking a stall in traffic when the battery dies two blocks from the station. You're filled up and ready to go in 2 minutes.

The spent battery pack gets conveyered or pallet-jacked to a high voltage testing/exercising/charging rack, where it is charged and put in line for future customers. The charge rack can be optimized to work with grid power or handy local alternatives - such as a nice big photovoltaic array out in Baker, for you Vegas visitors - or activated only at night when grid usage is low, or in combination with other green power generation.

As battery technology gets better, swap-outs become less frequent. You never have to worry about the cost of unchargeable or obsolete batteries (another barrier to owning an electric car) because you don't own the batteries. You pay for the first set you get when you buy the car, but only for electricity & swap fees after that.

Seems to me this would be an easy distribution network to ramp up. Combination manual/hydraulic systems could be mass produced. Current Jiffy Lubes, gas stations, Wal Marts, etc. could easily start offering the service almost immediately. "Swap While U Shop" concierge service.

They could start immediately with trailers full of charged batteries delivered to the site as needed and exchanged for a trailer full of the spent units, until they build their own charging racks.

And you can always top off every night by plugging it in at home.

So how do we get this done? There should be an association of electric vehicle manufacturers. They should set industry standards for battery packs. Competing battery technologies can be used as long as the physical package and power interface are standard.

Well? We're waiting.

Posted by: JBD at 08:51 PM | No Comments | Add Comment
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