• Oct 30th 2007 at 5:51PM
  • 31

The above video is a computer simulation of the Project Better Place battery exchange stations and parking lots. It's the same video shown in the background as Shai Agassi, the company's founder and CEO, explained the idea of the company on CNBC yesterday. Project Better Place wants to build a network of refueling points for electric car making electric cars as easy to re-fuel as gas cars. In the presentation launching the company, Shai said it was the "historic mistake" of the electric car industry not focusing on a re-fueling network.

The big test of Shai's model is whether or not major automakers will sign on to his systems and standards. Project Better Place is talking to 5 automakers that Shai won't name but he promises road tests early in 2008. Shai said the tests will be in places where electric car ranges make a lot of sense because they are land-locked for geographical or cultural reasons. A slide in his presentation, which is also below the fold, included Germany, Japan, London, Hawaii and Israel but other countries were mentioned as well.

It's very early and a system like this has never been tried before but I think this company is one to watch.

[Source: Project Better Place]

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 7 Years Ago
      Battery exchange is a very expensive ploy, because you inherently have to have a large number of fully charged batteries lying around just waiting for someone to come by and pick them up. How does the parties know they are trading like for like in terms of product quality and condition? You'd basically have to buy the car without a battery pack and then sign a contract with a service provider - whose solution will, by design, be incompatible with that of his competition.

      Inductive recharging makes more sense because no heave battery packs need to be swapped out. Indeed, the EV1 program included inductive coupling recharge stations at the homes of lessees. However, you do need to bring the coils into very close proximity: the full ground clearance of a vehicle is probably far too large a gap.

      Both of Mr. Agassi's ideas are based on the premise that BEV owners will want to use them exactly as they use their ICE-based vehicle today.

      Yet that is not how technological change works. Consumers' expectations can and do adapt to what is possible, last not least because advertising does influence their priorities. Perhaps BEV owners won't be all that worried about range on a single charge if it's not their only vehicle. Instead, they may put a premium on long service intervals and very quiet operation. Or on acceleration performance. Or any of the other things that BEVs are supposedly much better at than ICE-based vehicles.
      • 7 Years Ago
      @rgseidl: It's like he wants the entire market to conform to his idea instead of conforming to the entire market. Anyway.....what do you think about this idea of electricity transmission?
      • 7 Years Ago
      rob: How long is your commute?

      I know plenty of people have longer commutes than I, but the longest I ever had was about 30 miles. After work I used to drive to a ski hill to teach snowboarding which added about 30 miles to my return trip, so ~100 miles per day.

      If you had twice the range you needed for your daily drive plus a factor of safety, wouldn't that pretty much take care of all of the scenarios you presented? The Tesla has a range of about 250 miles. Of course we can't all afford a Tesla, and maybe it's not the car you want anyway, but my point is that all of your arguments are based on a vehicle range that's only a little longer than your commute, while the ranges of EVs are growing with every new generation of batteries.

      Furthermore, nobody tries to argue that an EV is the car everyone should drive (well, everyone on Hawaii maybe). If your commute is 200 miles a day (and I know there are those people out there), then it will be quite a while, if ever, before there are EVs that would meet that need. (Though I would argue that if you commute 200 miles your quality of life might improve if you change jobs or move closer to work).

      I think the problems associated with battery swapping stations mentioned by other posters would outweigh the benefit they deliver on those rare occasions when you drive more than 200 miles in a day (just picking some number). There are no swapping stations for cell phone batteries.
      • 7 Years Ago
      People seem to be criticising this company without fully understanding the problem it's trying to solve. The hassle of standardised batteries is pretty obvious, its not like somebody who's proposing an idea like this hasn't thought about it. Sure it is an obstacle, but it is by no means insurmountable. I mean, how many electric cars are even in development right now? Let alone actually on the road. Since the EV industry is still in it's infancy, I don't see any reason to claim this is a bad solution, as there aren't any company specific batteries to speak of yet. Besides , its pretty easy to go out and by standardised batteries for consumer electronics, why not cars too? Its a little different in that these are rechargeables, and it would be more of a rental system, but there's no reason that couldn't work. Competing battery swappers could have their own types, all matching the same standardised shape and size but maybe with different chemistries. Anyone dishing out shitty batteries would simply lose its customers.

      Now if you actually understood the situation at hand a little better rather than simply criticising the guy because he came up with something you hadn't thought of before, you would be aware of the problems involved with trying to cram a bunch of energy into a battery pack in a reasonable amount of time. Some of you are just saying that for the majority of drives and drivers, a full charge of a typical pack would be enough to get the car out and back home for the night and recharge, and I whole-heartedly agree. Most people simply don't need to drive very far in a day, and human sleepy time can coincide nicely with a reasonably paced recharge.

      On the other hand, some of you seem to be seeing the other idea presented in this video, the inductive charger, as an alternative to the battery swaps as a means of a quick refuel. Inductive charging is an elegant solution, eliminating wires and the need to physically plug in, but it doesn't mean the recharge process would only take 5 minutes. Charging up a 10kWh or so battery in a matter of a few minutes would require an intense amount of current, so your battery and power electronics have to be able to withstand that, and wherever you're getting your electricity from needs to be able to dish out that kind of power. That means you'll probably need a massive bank of capacitors to store grid electricity continuously and as quickly as possible to build up a buffer, and then discharge those capacitors whenever a car comes in for a recharge, and hope that you have enough time to recharge the capacitors before the next car comes.

      I'm not saying this isn't feasible, but I'm just saying both of these options have their challenges, and really, they aren't competitive options, as at this point, battery swapping offers something that recharging doesn't, and that's a quick top up. Its another question altogether as to whether quick top ups are necessary. I think in terms of consumer acceptance, it may be necessary, people don't typically drive very far but they don't like the idea of a vehicle that couldn't go very far if they needed it to once in a while.

      Another difficulty with battery swapping is the shear number of batteries required. Its up to debate as to how many batteries would be required. Would it be something like 3 for every 2 cars? Or closer to 2 or 3 per car? In that case, can we actually make enough batteries?

      • 7 Years Ago


      For more ideas for future transportation click these web sites

      -----Swap battery system

      -----Automated high speed transport system

      -----Global solar energy system

      -----My resume and background experience

      -----Main web page - See index at bottom for more.

      Contact me via email for other info.

      sincerely Jack Marchand
      • 6 Years Ago
      I like the car battery exchange idea. Maybe the auto-makers or the fuel companies should sell the batteries as a service and not as an item that we ever own. The car owner pay $500 per year and you can exchange the batteries for freshly charged ones as many times as you need to at any battery exchange station. The station would need to be able to change a battery in under 5 minutes so they could avoid lines of cars waiting for an exchange and ideally they would have a “self help” feature so users don’t even need to wait on an attendant.

      As for standardizing the battery so the same machine can switch any car's battery(s); If they were able to make millions of devices that all accommodate AA, AAA and 12v batteries, then surely that can get electric car makers to agree on two or three standard battery compartments with two or three different standard battery packs. Car makers could standardize the battery based on current technology and it could evolve over time as new developments occur. A bar-code or WIFI transmitted code cold relay the model and battery informatin to the battery changing robot as the car pulls onto the platform.

      I agree that a solution like this is vital to the success of 100% electric cars. The only other solution would involve a major breakthrough in solar charging or a major breakthrough in battery storage capabilities.

      • 7 Years Ago
      Gentlemen--- May 19,2008
      Here are some of my web sites. --- http://trillions.topcities.com/index.html --- --- http://trillions.topcities.com/electriCar.html --- --- http://trillions.topcities.com/dualmodemaglev.html --- ---Many more of my Ideas are also shown in other web pages for all others to view also such as a Global Solar Energy System. Quick-Swap EV battery exchange stations.Etc.
      Sincerely, Jack Marchand
      • 7 Years Ago
      This very enlightening ... You dont have to rely on swap stations on parking lots to ensure your vehicles juiced. You can have units at home solar charged during the day. or a spare that gives you the extra needed push when required.

      Now the scarry question.

      Are the big oil guys [B.O.G's] looking into re-incarnating themselves to this new form of business...? SHELL/EXON/TEXACO batt swap staions.

      • 7 Years Ago
      Ahem! "There's no reason why a selection of different batteries couldn't be accommodated."!
      • 7 Years Ago
      The battery swap system is about the only idea that actually makes electric cars feasible. Here's a real life scenario that makes me really hesitant to ever buy an electric car. One day I drove to work and also had to run an errand at one of the plants. This probably means that I can barely make it home without a recharge. However, I received a phone call after running my errand that my son had broken his arm and I needed to go to the hospital. Except the hospital was further away than my range allows. With the battery swap, this isn't an issue.

      Here's another one. I came home one day to find that the mulch delivered to my house was dumped in my driveway instead of on the side. I parked on the street instead (no charging possible). I moved the 12 yards of mulch but it was so late that after I cleaned up and ate dinner, I crashed for the night. I never moved the car off the street (no charge). When I realize the next morning that I can't make it to work because I have less than the needed charge, the battery swap seems like a better idea!

      Or this one...it is mid January and the temperature is overing near zero. The performance of the battery pack is down so that I can't really make it to and from work. With the battery swap, I can make it now.

      About the only nice thing about our petrol solution is the convenience of instant refueling almost everywhere. The electric cars needs that same level of convenience. I had a friend who used to own a Diesel, but traded it in after being stranded at one too many times at a gas station that did not carry Diesel.
      • 7 Years Ago
      No reasonable person can ask one tool to solve every need. EVs are great for everyday commuting and every family should own one. If you're a sales rep then buy a biodiesel car (or a Volt) for work. When you need to take that occasional long trip then rent a biodiesel car (or a Volt) or better yet, take the train.

      Standardization for the sake of some “battery swapping” scheme will only serve to kill competition and innovation. It will NEVER catch on except for industrial forklifts.
      • 7 Years Ago
      battery swap stations
      Israel's Electric Revolution is nothing new
      check my web site of the 1990s
      also some of the patent listed are dating way back. Gwyn's patent 4,450,400 dates back to 1984. Much is needed yet to improve the infrastructure for a good simple system. Let me know when you are ready. Check-- Http://globalsys.topcities .com
      jack marchand
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