• Apr 29, 2010
The big announcement regarding battery swapping in Japan came just days ago as Better Place officially kicked off its taxi battery-swapping station. Mitsubishi Heavy Industries has tried to steal a bit of the thunder by casually announcing its own swapping plans. No ribbon cutting or a bunch of hoopla for this one, but that doesn't make Mitsubishi's announcement – that Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (former parent company of Mitsubishi) is developing electric buses that are capable of battery-swapping – any less important. Better Place is not involved with this one. The swap-capable electric bus program will kick-off next year.

Green Car Advisor asked Better Place founder Shai Agassi if he had any involvement with Mitsubishi's work, but he quickly denied any connection. This points to one of two scenarios: either Mitsubishi Heavy Industries is focusing efforts on developing its own battery-swapping technology or Agassi can't comment yet on his company's involvement.

An electric bus with battery-swapping capability makes us warm up to the whole quick-change idea. Buses could more easily accommodate a one-size-fits-all battery and swapping could allow the electric people movers to be on duty around the clock. The only complication we see is storage for, let's say, a 5,000-pound battery the size of a car.

[Source: Green Car Advisor]


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 9 Comments
      • 4 Years Ago
      It's a great idea. Mitsubishi Heavy Industries brings battery swapping to large vehicles and Better Place takes care of the light duty vehicles.

      More electric vehicles on the road is all to the good.
      • 4 Years Ago
      continuous operation vehicles are well suited for battery swap. busses, taxis, trailer trucks. could work well. only subject to how quickly it is implemented.

      small backup generator in case of anomalies. like having to go on a rare country route or thermo nuclear war :)
      • 4 Years Ago
      Find out how many miles per day these buses need... see if there is a single battery pack that will fit.

      Is it that hard? No, but people love the idea of swapping cause it feels like refueling. It seems that when folks hear "battery swapping" the part of the brain that is responsible for "range anxiety" gets a dose of opium. Not because it is a good idea.

      --------------

      Battery swapping still requires the same amount of kwh... just separated into more packs. You still have to charge packs that have been swapped out.
      • 4 Years Ago
      I, for one, am glad to see the battery swapping idea get more use. I'm sure my first highway-speed EV won't have a swappable battery but I hope the next one has some type of SAE standardized swappable battery. (Don't want to get locked into Better Place.)
      • 4 Years Ago
      Maybe if they went fly-by-wire and made the entire cabin lift off the chassis then they could access a large flat battery from above the chassis and lift it out as well.
      Seems like the long way around... but you would not have to worry so much about working around axles and what-not.
      Also... the bus becomes modular so you can upgrade the chassis and/or cabin independently of one another.
      Finally ... when taking into account maintenance, one would imagine it would be far more necessary on the chassis than the cabin.
      So you could possibly have few cabins than chassis in your fleet.

      And if everyone used them you could have tour operations go from train to bus bus travel just like they do with cargo containers now from train to truck.
      • 4 Years Ago
      A little quick math... the battery and controller in a LEAF weigh ~480 lbs for car that goes 100 miles and is equivalent to ~30 mpg car, or 4.8 lbs per mile of range. So, convert that to a city bus that tends to get around 10 mpg, and you end up with ~14 lbs per mile. For a 5000 lb battery, you would get ~350 miles on one charge. Busses stop a lot (great use of battery electric, with no idling and regen braking)- the average speed for daytime local buses here in NYC is less than 7 miles per hour... At which speed a bus could operate 24 hours a day for more than 2 days on one charge...

      http://www.transitblogger.com/straphangers-campaign/straphangers-campaign-2009-bus-award-winners.php

      A 2500 lb battery would be good to be replaced for every 24 hours of service. However, busses have some down time at the end of each route, when drivers take their breaks.. so with a 440v rapid charger at the ends of each route, you could extend it much farther. If 30 minutes of break gets you 35 miles of range (or 5 hours at 7 MPH)- then battery swap would not be needed for most local urban routes.

      City busses are million dollar vehicles- the addition of a $25,000-50,000 battery would have realitively short return on investment
        • 4 Years Ago
        Good points, and since they are stopping at the same places several times a day an overhead quick charge system at each stop would keep the battery topped up.

        You could also create park and ride infrastructure with electric car charging and electric busses
      • 4 Years Ago
      Battery swapping has been going on for years in the forklift industry. And Mitsubishi sells electric forklifts whose "Lateral battery change speeds up changeovers."

      In 2009, Mitsubishi Heavy planned "to start mass-production of industrial-use lithium-ion batteries in late 2012" and "is also interested in the swappable car battery business... We are in talks with Better Place on several business plans" http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE57P0G720090826

      The forklift industry is a parallel universe, where battery vehicles are established and hydrogen fuel cells are trying to make inroads. Just like cars,Toyota is making an HFC forklift, DoE offers $3000 tax credits for hydrogen, etc. From http://mhmonline.com/powered-vehicles/mhm_imp_5314/ , "longer run times, stable voltage levels, quicker refueling and freedom from battery rooms." Let's go over there and open a new front in the HCFV war of words ;-) :-)

      Another approach to electric buses is to recharge them at each stop. I think lefty paradise Curitibia was trying to do this a decade ago, but it's wear and tear and more work for the bus driver.
        • 4 Years Ago
        The site you list mediates all posts. Which means they will either have 0 comments forever or they will ok those that are favorable to the author or his position.

        Waste of time.