According to Better Place, the electric vehicle industry is following along as expected and several makers are locating batteries in the ideal underside location, perfectly situated for their own battery swapping program.

The battery swapping system from Better Place was designed as a means to extend the usable range of an EV in a timely manner.  The system works by pulling a vehicle into a station which then automatically swaps the drained battery for a fresh one.

The initial reaction to the system was that it would be technically impossible.  As Sidney Goodman, Better Place vice president of automotive alliances said, "I can tell you that if we go back two years, the initial reaction was, "This can't be done.  Technically it's crazy."  That has gone away."

According to a key executive for Better Place, the change in the industry's thinking has come along naturally.  They have not strong armed the industry into adopting their setup.  Automakers understand the importance of locating the battery on the underside of the vehicle to reduce its center of gravity.  The underside mounting location is exactly what Better Place had anticipated years ago when they began work on the battery swapping station.

As Goodman said, "Auto makers have begun to realize the benefits of locating a battery on the underside of an EV, and this plays right into the Better Place business model."

With automakers making the changeover and locating the battery on the underside of the vehicle, the outlook for Better Place is encouraging.  But the changeover won't happen immediately.

Automakers will launch the first wave of EVs in the next year and all of the designs will vary, but few if any, will utilize the battery swapping technology.  Currently, the Renault Fluence ZE is one model that will utilize the system.

Goodman added, "The OEMs are saying, "Guys we have to finish.  We're in the cycle now." In the next wave of EVs, you'll see the battery is low-centered, under the vehicle, for the low-gravity point, for safety, from the crumple zone perspective.  That's the right design.  Service is easier when a battery is located beneath the vehicle."

The trend to switch to an under mount battery appears to be a natural design evolution for EVs.  Better Place did not coerce makers into establishing this format, but they were intuitive enough to know that it would happen. 

With an under mount battery, a standardized mounting system, and a connection reliable enough to withstand battery swapping, battery swapping could become common and Better Place will be the technological leaders in the industry.

Source:  Wards Auto (Login required)