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Old 05-14-2009, 11:43 AM   #1 (permalink)
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VIDEO: Project Better Place demonstrates EV battery swap station

How long does it take to fill the fuel tank in your ICE vehicle? Two minutes? Three?

How does less than two minutes for a fully automated swap of your EV's battery pack at a battery swap station sound?

For video, see:



Better Place Battery Switch Technology Demonstration

---

Beats the heck out of the ForkenSwift's "hot swap" ability!


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Old 05-14-2009, 12:25 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Autopia has an article on the swap station:

Better Place Unveils an Electric Car Battery Swap Station | Autopia | Wired.com

Quote:
Better Place unveiled its battery swap system today and said the $500,000 gadget can replace a dead battery and get you back on the road in less time than it takes to fill your gas tank.

The prototype revealed in Japan is the first of what the Silicon Valley startup promises will be countless automated battery exchange stations that will one day dot our cities. The technology will make it possible to travel long distances in an EV without the hassle of stopping to recharge your battery, company founder and CEO Shai Agassi said.
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Old 05-14-2009, 12:35 PM   #3 (permalink)
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I didn't see the shadow from the house move on the car...trick photography!!! I call Shenanigans!!!

Really...nice work bro...that's a quick switchout...congrats!
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Old 05-14-2009, 01:06 PM   #4 (permalink)
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The concept is certainly intriguing.

Hopefully they will have a traditional chargers for when they run out of charged batteries for your specific application. How would batteries that fail on the road be handled?
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Old 05-14-2009, 01:47 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Nice little workout too - each batt weighs ~65 lbs. I swapped 16 of them, for ~1040 lbs

Don - good question. Of course, anywhere you can find a plug, you can recharge an electric car.

But if/when EV's go mainstream, drivers *are* going to run out of charge on the road. I predict you'll either just call for a tow to the nearest high voltage quick-charge station, or maybe they'll have mobile quick charge vehicles.

Like the giant AFM generator truck this poor guy called in to recharge his tiny G-Wiz electric car (the proportions are comical):



Hear the guy's voice? The embodiment of "range anxiety!" I'm sure it cost him a pretty penny, too!
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Old 05-14-2009, 05:47 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Oh oh:

I Got Yer Battery Swap Station | Autopia | Wired.com

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Old 05-14-2009, 07:25 PM   #7 (permalink)
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There have been several articles about EV infrastructure in the news recently. Probably the most talked about is 'Better Place' - They have a scheme to install EV pay charging stations at public lots, businesses and homes. Their system is a ‘pay-for-service’ model, and uses proprietary equipment (a unique, proprietary plug and a requirement for some sort of internet accessible switch to turn on the plug) that costs a bundle to obtain, install and maintain. Presently, Better Place is lobbying cities and local government officials to install these systems.

And many cities, in an enthusiastic but ill-informed rush to embrace “Green” technology, have agreed in principle to this sort of plan.

Better Place and similar schemes are simply methods to charge the unaware public for a readily available resource (electricity) by making access to that resource proprietary.

This sort of “pay-for-service” model can be compared to a pay toilet.

Right now, if a business has a plug (or a toilet for that matter) available, they will typically let you use it for free. Both the toilet and the cost of electricity to recharge an EV for an hour or so probably cost the same to use when water, toilet paper and other supplies, janitorial services, etc. are considered.

When was the last time you saw a pay toilet? Pay toilets are synonymous with low expectations, filth and crime. Prime example of a failed business model.

From a retailer perspective - You buy stuff at their store, and perhaps use a few cents worth of electricity (or the toilet) during the course of your retail experience. A few cents per customer to make that customer stay and shop is not a horrible expense.

An EV might use a kilowatt or two while parked - ten to twenty cents at normal commercial rates.

Most people that presently own electric vehicles use regular plugs that are already ubiquitous and cheap - 115v standard outlets, 220v dryer plugs, etc. These standard plugs are easily installed and maintained by any business using locally purchased equipment and normally trained electricians.

In the pay-for service model, an EV owner may be required to modify their vehicle (plug) to the tune of several hundred dollars (unknown ATT). If they modify a vehicle, an owner will need to buy a special plug-in for their garage/parking space at home as well - More $$$.

Depending on how the equipment works out, will the home user be 'billed' for using equipment they own at home, sort of like renting a Dish Network satellite receiver?

Buying specialized, proprietary charging equipment (and paying for the privilege of subscribing to a third-party billing service to use electricity you already have available) is an additional insult, and drives up the cost of EV ownership. But unlike satellite TV, where some plausible benefit may be obtained, there is no improvement in service or convenience comparing a common RV plug with a thousand dollar specialized EV plug setup.

They both provide so many amps at so many volts. No difference to the battery charger.

Cities, businesses, etc. will also need to buy the service equipment (thousand dollars + install cost each). The equipment manufacturers may require that their 'trained technicians' install and service the equipment, so cities won't be able to use city electricians already on the payroll. Your tax dollars at work.

There will certainly be a maintenance cost as well. Right now, most cities just don't have the cash to install a proprietary system that may or may not end up being standard. You may recall all the paddle-type charging systems installed in the late '90's. They were (mostly) free to use, but only a handful of people actually used them, and many of them have never been used save for once or twice.

Cities could simply install cheap and readily available 20 amp 115v plugs (recharge rate about 10 miles per hour of recharge) or RV -type plugs (50 amp 220v, about 40 miles per hour of recharge). The cost to the cities would be nominal - cities already have electricians, and the hardware itself isn't expensive. If a city decides to require some payment, why not install a 'dryer timer' where an EV owner can pop in a quarter to turn on the plug for an hour - could be combined with the parking fee for specific spaces to keep them from being IC’ed?

Cities already have parking meter people that empty the quarters from parking devices, so no more people would be on the payroll for EV meters.

People will -always- pull out the safety issue if you mention electric plugs and Joe Driver. They will claim that it simply isn't safe to plug in a vehicle, so some sort of specialized plug is required to save people from themselves.

I guess they aren't aware of the THOUSANDS of RVs (large plug-in vehicles) that plug in every day - If Ma and Pa Kettle can safely plug in the Winnebago at the end of a road trip, safety isn't really an issue. And guess what - those RV plugs are outside, in the weather, 24/7. If they break, any electrician can repair them for a few bucks.

Personally, I view filling up a car with gasoline to involve much more peril, from fire and explosion, to cancer from the fumes. But since 'everyone' uses a gas station, people just don't think about those perils. BTW everyone uses plugs as well - probably dozens in every home - and no one considers them a particularly dangerous health or safety risk. Why is a car special? It is not.

Battery swap-out works for forklifts and other high-use commercial equipment. Biggest problem is that it would require a huge number of batteries to make it work, and those batteries would need to be reliably operational when and where needed 24/7. Very high cost, and labor intensive. Those costs will be passed along to the EV owner, even if they never use a swap station.

As far as ‘stuck on the freeway’ – many overpasses, interchanges, etc. and just about every street corner in the US has electricity available (lots of sodium vapor lighting… Look up sometime.) Depending on the type of lamp used, either (or both) 220v and 110v could be brought down to vehicle level for emergency charging by simply installing a weatherproof plug enclosure like those found in every RV park in the US.

And it wouldn’t require an expensive proprietary plug-in system. Just a normal, inexpensive plug. How simple is that?
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Old 05-14-2009, 07:36 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TomEV View Post
As far as ‘stuck on the freeway’ – many overpasses, interchanges, etc. and just about every street corner in the US has electricity available (lots of sodium vapor lighting… Look up sometime.) Depending on the type of lamp used, either (or both) 220v and 110v could be brought down to vehicle level for emergency charging by simply installing a weatherproof plug enclosure like those found in every RV park in the US.

And it wouldn’t require an expensive proprietary plug-in system. Just a normal, inexpensive plug. How simple is that?
The problem is that on Federal highways and interstates it's not legal to park on the shoulder under bridges, overpasses, or interchanges since it's both a security risk and a traffic hazard.
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Old 05-14-2009, 07:41 PM   #9 (permalink)
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But still legal for 'emergency parking only'. If you're going to wait an hour or two for a specialized AAA truck with a battery charger anyway, you could plug in while you wait and probably charge up enough to make your destination before they arrive.
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Old 05-14-2009, 09:33 PM   #10 (permalink)
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I'd handle breakdowns with a tow truck, if that's available. It would be nice to have a place to plug in an auxiliary battery, so that one car could "jump" another, with big booster cables between them, either for charging or slow driving. However, battery problems are usually not sudden and complete.

I hope that half-million dollar robot for battery swaps included the car and building. I'm sure that any racing pit crew could do it in a quarter the time, and that robots will always beat people, given enough money. That demonstrator could have been just re-programmed to have the battery cart in position, waiting for the car, and generally speeded up. The fun part comes when we try to standardize batteries, possibly with modular packs, and adapt the robots to other variations that designers might want to try.

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