Better Place battery-swap demonstrationEnlarge Photo
There are many methods for charging EVs. From using household current, to battery swapping, to fast charge stations, the list is continually growing. However, not everyone is on board with some charging options.
Battery swapping has continually been met with interest, yet few believe the idea is workable. According to Nancy Gioia, newly appointed director of global electrification at Ford, battery swapping has far too many pitfalls. Gioia said, "Battery swapping is an interesting concept, but there are potential pitfalls that must be overcome. A lot of EVs, because of the size of batteries and energy density, may have liquid cooling and that cooling loop has to break to change a battery. It's a difficult thing to do."
Though technical issues such as battery cooling could be overcome with creative design, the logistics involved with battery swapping seem impractical and virtually impossible to overcome. Under most battery swapping scenarios, a consumer drives to a battery swapping location similar to a quick lube oil change, pays a fee, and swaps for a fresh battery.
Storing batteries needed for all electric vehicles on the road is not as simple as loading your shelves with oil filters. Batteries can weigh several hundred pounds, take up space the size of an engine / trans combo, and can be both dangerous to handle and hazardous to store.
Gioia later added, "Battery packs are expected to change year to year as technology improves." With newly developed battery packs produced yearly, the total numbers of batteries on hand at the swapping stations could quickly reach into the thousands. The sheer size of a battery swapping station would require careful planning and purchasing of lots much larger than gas stations. In tight inner city areas, available land of this size is likely very limited.
With both technological and logistical hurdles in the way for pioneers of battery swapping like Better Place, the goal may be achievable, but the process will be timely and costly.
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