Battery swapping is controversial subject in the realm of electric vehicles. Many EV advocates favor the concept, but aside from Renault-Nissan almost no other automaker is supporting the concept at this point. A new study conducted by University of California economist Thomas Becker projects adoption rates for electric vehicles over the next two decades.
Becker's study is premised on the use of switchable battery systems as proposed by Better Place. Becker projects that nearly two thirds of new car sales in 2030 could be EVs and a quarter of the fleet could be electrified by that time. The estimates are based on low-cost EVs enabled by selling them without batteries and then leasing the batteries at a cost comparable to the cost of fuel.
While this sounds great, swappable batteries pose a number of very difficult problems, including ensuring the robustness of connections when the batteries are repeatedly replaced. With battery technology still evolving and performance and longevity highly dependent on the integration with the vehicle, swapping is much more complicated than the simple act of removal and replacement.
Like so many economic forecasts, this one is based on a number of questionable assumptions. Did we mention that the study was partially funded by Better Place?