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Supercharging v. Swapping: Article

Interesting article in Forbes:

http://www.forbes.com/sites/toddwoody/2012/11/26/how-two-billionaires-ar...

A few new pieces of information, if it is to be believed. For example, superchargers with 500kWh batteries? TM swapping stations?

Again, I'm not sure I believe it all.

Just read the same. Battery swapping has been proposed many times during the evolution of the electric car but IMHO the infrastructure cost is greater to set up and will not end up as the preferred method for BEVs.

It's way easier to install charging stations across a country than build / lease a building for a station to stock, charge and have the specialty equipment to install heavy new batteries. I just don't see it as a viable infrastructure choice for a country to pursue.

The argument for swapping AND supercharging is that there is a much larger market for $50k cars (and eventually $30k cars), but those cars won't meet most drivers' occasional need to drive long distances. By having a supercharging option for some drivers and a rent-and-swap option for those without the range or capability to use the superchargers (e.g., for $200, swing by your local Tesla service station and rent an 85kWH battery for the weekend trip from Houston to Dallas or beyond), you make even the shortest range version a less unreasonable option.

As a likely 60kWH buyer, I love that concept. It has the added benefit of perhaps leading to long-term leasing of replacement batteries in 5-8 years as the range degrades on the included battery.

Yeah, I see TM swapping mainly coming in to play for (rare) upgrades/replacements at Service Centers.

IMHO, it's a lot less hassle to setup a supercharger as opposed to a battery swap station, and that as far as I need to evaluate this debate.

An efficient system solution never requires a massive, redundant
inventory of its most expensive component (the battery).

On this economic logic alone, a supercharger network is much wiser.

The individual liability issues, which are scary, do not even surface before the swap scheme fails purely on capital cost grounds.

In time, battery chemistry and super capacitor advances will also shrink charge time to a few minutes.

That's the steady state, optimal solution.

TM's strategy is by far the smarter play.

Swapping is a crazy solution given that all batteries are not equal. Old packs naturally have degraded capacity, making the user hesitant to ever swap a new pack, and given incentive to swap an old pack and never get it back. I understand that there may be some provision to get your original pack returned, but that necessitates getting back to the same station which reduces the utility.

In all, I think pack swapping only makes sense for people who can't charge in their residence, and thus rely on a local charge/swap station. It relies on the concept that EV users would need public infrastructure as much as ICE users do, but that is simply not the case, we only need it for the occasional long trip.

In the article, I believe A Better Place owns the batteries. It might make more sense after many years when you would need to replace the battery anyway, but unless battery sizes and connections are standardized, no vendor would want to invest the money to service all the different types of cars and their respective batteries.

Swapping only makes $$ sense at a service center: renew or upgrade (or downgrade, if that suits) your battery. Once every X years.

In time, battery chemistry and super capacitor advances will also shrink charge time to a few minutes

There are already 60C (120C in short pulses) batteries in RC world. 60C means that you could charge that in a bit over minute. Faster than filling gas tank. Those are not even close to what I have seen in some lab results, they are talking about thousand or ten thousand C battery layers there.

Bottleneck will be charger instead of battery pretty soon. Something like 160kWh battery (500+mile range) charged in one minute would mean 9.6MW connection. Maybe with some robotics attaching the charge cables: lowish voltage & extremely high amperage requires very heavy cabling.

Of course you don't need to get that insane, just halving the charge time from current SC would be more than enough for most drivers, even the long range drivers with backup driver taking over after one gets too tired. (assuming 80%@45min ->80%@23min)


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