Battery swap for mass market Electric Vehicle: Solution or Road Block
Tesla Motors in late June 2013 demonstrated how its service station (Tesla Station) could accomplish two battery swaps for the Model S in the time it takes to fill a gas tank.
In February 2014 it projected sales of over 35,000 Model S in 2014, a 55% increase over 2013. Weekly production is expected to increase from 600 cars to about 1,000 cars by end of the year. It plans to sell the Model S in China for the same price as in the US, has recently announced leasing and financing options in European markets, and plans to start shipping right-hand drive models to the UK, Japan, Hong Kong and Australia this spring.
Model S is not for mass market yet
Battery swap technique works for Tesla by design
Every battery in Model S ages over time to lose its driving range and value. Tesla has to work out reasonable deals with owners who signed up the battery swap program. The company previously said it would charge owners $60 to $80 a month for the service, though Forbes speculated that owners would be required to pick up their original battery packs at some point.
Hurdles for Battery swap in mass market
Yes, there were major hurdles in the mass market. First, vehicles have to be compatible with battery swapping. This means batteries must be located on the underside of the vehicle. Second, the battery swapping station would have to stock several of every type of electric vehicle battery. There was no standardization for battery size or type at the time. Therefore the station must have all batteries on hand in business. Finally, the station must stay current with all of the new electric vehicles produced. Keeping batteries in stock for all electric vehicles would almost certainly mean a warehouse sized swapping station. This business model required a huge capital investment and depended on the wider support of compatible vehicles. Other limiting factors included the objection by drivers to older batteries and the very small business volume only by customers making long trips.
Better Place has not been successful in convincing auto makers to enable their car batteries to be swapped out. When launching its service in Israel, it only offered one unimpressive car from Renault.
Even today, vehicle manufacturers have never agreed to any common battery standards.
Battery swap solution
A potential benefit of battery swapping is that swap station operators can charge batteries at the best times of day to minimize the impact on peak power demand. Battery swapping may allow vehicle owners to “recharge” quickly on-the-go, and could serve as an alternative approach to controlled charging. Swap stations could benefit regions where high density and parking constraints limit access to private, dedicated low capacity charging. In such locations, battery swap stations may prove viable alternatives to low capacity and high capacity public charging stations. Battery swapping has been deployed on a limited basis for fleets in Chinese cities.
Sihui Electric Bus Charging/Battery Swapping Station, the largest of its kind in Beijing, was officially put into operation on Sept 16, 2013. The station is located at Chaoyang District of the city. According to State Grid Beijing Municipal Electric Power Company, Beijing has built 64 charging stations for electric vehicles, covering all its districts. It can provide charging services for over 3000 electric vehicles, including electric buses, taxis, sanitation trucks, passenger vehicles and comprehensive vehicles.
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