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Captain Hybrid

Tesla Aims to Win Over Skeptics With Battery Swap Stations

NO RATINGS
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Elizabeth M
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Blogger
Innovative idea
Elizabeth M   7/2/2013 10:19:50 AM
Well this is certainly an innovative way to try to persuade the remaining EV skeptics and naysayers, but it seems like as the critics point out, there would still be some drawbacks. But it's good to see manufacturers making creative and innovative technologies to get around gasoline power and show people how true EVs really can be done. It's important we get to an affordable, efficient and logical EV sooner rather than later.

Debera Harward
User Rank
Silver
Re: Innovative idea
Debera Harward   7/9/2013 4:24:41 AM
NO RATINGS
No doubt Charles, battery swapping is an innovative approach we can see by all these advancements how technology is growing so rapidly . But unfortunately every technology has its advantages and disadvantages . When your car needs   more feul you can drive into the station and get ur used battery replaced by a fully charged battery through automated robots . It saves time  , it saves your car from being dealt with dirty chords however there are disadvantages as well a lot of capital is required for building these stations , batteries required in stock ,standardization of battery shape  and there can be certain dangers caused by malfunctioning of robot arm as well.

Rob Spiegel
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Blogger
A carmaker in the refueling business
Rob Spiegel   7/2/2013 10:21:43 AM
Whew. Tesla is taking on  a big one here. I can understand the company's desire to solve the problem of long trips, but getting into battery swapping is a mater of entering a whole new buisness. Plus, it's a huge stretch for the consumer. The battery swapping idea was tried in Israel by Bettrer Place, which failed recently even with $850 million in investment dollars.

78RPM
User Rank
Gold
Re: A carmaker in the refueling business
78RPM   7/2/2013 4:02:23 PM
You are right, Rob, that there are hurdles to the concept of battery swapping. The biggest is to get all manufacturers to standardize on one or two battery packs. But, hey, all companies now standardize on gas filler necks to exclude leaded gas nozzles. Of course, battery packs greatly influence the entire chassis design of the car and present a far greater challenge.

The concern about the age of the battery should be negligible. You're only going to use the battery for 250 miles and replace it again and again. At $60 to $80 a swap, it compares with the cost of gasoline and you never have to worry about that day when you get hit with a sudden kilobucks cost of buying new batteries. You just pay as you go. The charging station just charges for the service and averages out the amortization of thousands of batteries, building this into their swap price.  Of course, getting the industry and the public on board won't be easy. This concept will not work well in remote rural areas.

AREV
User Rank
Gold
Re: A carmaker in the refueling business
AREV   7/3/2013 8:48:00 AM
This has to work. Growing up just 60 years ago we could tell the difference on each tank of gas we got. IE no standards and we had Sunco stations that supplied the high compression Vettes with the only fuel they could perform with. Electrics have to go this path where you're only paying for the power not the battery - $80 for a battery that goes 200 miles is no bagin. $28 for a car getting 25 mpg. Te screws need to go or ther will be strippig problems . . . . Standards guys. If you traced a gallon of gas from the pump back to a hole in the ground you'll see an amazing story.remember the lead vs no lead transition? A head ache but it was done.  It did not happen over night but it needs to be replicated ASAP for electrics not to go back on the shelf as a 2013 thing.While designing the quick remove - relpace battery they need to incorporate the first emergency disconnect so first responders and others are safe when they approch a damaged vehicle. Jeep is repairing 20 year old vehicles for tank issues. It seams to me that when the impact sensors go off that the + and - for the batterys could be severed permanently to isolate the battery power from any chance of injury. Needs tobe done. Again a standard.

Bunter
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Platinum
Re: A carmaker in the refueling business
Bunter   7/3/2013 8:56:27 AM
Some good points.  Agree on price-no bargain-keeps it a toy for the wealthy (which is fine, nothing wrong with that) which is what pure EVs are today (cue Leaf owners rebutal).

Enjoy.

Dennis

Jerry dycus
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Gold
Re: A carmaker in the refueling business
Jerry dycus   7/3/2013 8:59:22 AM
  You don't need exact packs because it's computer controlled robot  so it can be programed like the Better Place ones to handle other pack types that mount from underneath like the Leaf's does already.

 

In another interview Elon commented on the cost of batteries saying they were much lower that thought.  They will be the largest user of small cells in the world soon getting them under $150/kwhr if not already by any decent teardown accounting.

Personally I see little need for over 100 mile range when a tiny fueled generator under 100lbs gives unlimited range at 100mpg or so the few times it would be needed. This keeps corporate greedy hands from doubling your fuel/battery cost from renting/leasing/swapping  instead. 

I expect in the near future rental unlimited range  generators mounted on trailer hitches for Leaf's, other EV's.

Interestingly EV's once they price was dropped to something reasonable a month ago all of a sudden EV sales exploded and most are now out of stock. Like I said before, they were overpriced, overweight and overteched. At least trhey are becoming more reasonably priced and since their battery pack costs are much lower than they say, around $250kwhr  for Tesla and $300-350kwhr for the others. they can do it and still make a profit.

 

Remember the gov paid for the EV, Hybrid, battery development and production lines upfront so big autop has little debt/costs in them, just profits they are not passing to the consumer.

 

AREV
User Rank
Gold
Re: A carmaker in the refueling business
AREV   7/3/2013 9:49:29 AM
The government is us. We're all paying for it.Probably much more than if left private. Just like we're paying for windmills that will never break even. Electrics will be refined by the Henery Fords not someone knowing how to fill out grants.  

CharlesM
User Rank
Silver
Re: A carmaker in the refueling business
CharlesM   7/3/2013 10:37:53 AM
Remember the gov paid for the EV, Hybrid, battery development and production lines upfront so big autop has little debt/costs in them, just profits they are not passing to the consumer.

The government paid for virtually every significant technology we have: the integrated circuit, the internet and the World Wide Web, servo systems, communications protocols, satellite communications including GPS, rural electrification, flood control for the economies in the southeast, water and power to the southwest, aircraft and propulsion systems, nuclear reactors, etc.  See any business opportunities in any of that? Like all the others, the move to electromotive transport will be well worth it in increased economic output and reduced societal costs.

Tesla did get lucky to be able to purchase its facilities at fire sale prices, because of the Bush economic crash and its particularly impacts on the automotive industry. The NUMMI plant was perfect for them and they got it for a song at just the right time, along with stimulus funds that started in the Bush years.  (Maybe Tesla should be nicknamed Bush Motors! Heh.) What's good for Tesla will be good for the country, orders of magnitude times over. Musk is even trying to liberate us from antiquated dealer networks. Imagine if brick and mortar businesses had a lobby that prevented all internet commerce; that's about where the auto industry is.

Some speculate that Musk's real goal is to create a new energy distribution industry more than being just an EV car manufacturer. He doesn't particularly care about compatibility with other EVs, though. He leads in his own way and if other manufacturers want to follow, great, but Tesla doesn't seem dependent on getting other makes on board, at least yet.

Better Place was a whole different story. Did they even have any cars that they could do a battery swap on?  Not in this country. It's hard to implement an idea, no matter how good and let alone turn a profit, when it's impossible to implement in the largest automotive markets. (The Volt and the LEAF are not battery swap compatible.)

GTOlover
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Platinum
Re: A carmaker in the refueling business
GTOlover   7/3/2013 9:51:51 AM
RPM,

Did I miss something? Is there a battery that goes 250 miles? Or is it still 100 miles?

At 100 miles a battery that is about $150 to $200 to go 250 miles! $150 bucks fills up by 42 gallon tank on my Suburban and I can go well over 700 miles!

The idea of standardization is right on the mark! Until the car companies agree, it will be unlikely that this works out.

Nexsen
User Rank
Iron
Re: A carmaker in the refueling business
Nexsen   7/3/2013 1:32:40 PM
Barring a major breakthrough batteries will remain a major fraction of the cost of electric vehicles. It's currently over 30% for expensive models and will increase as mass market (cheaper) models evolve (as a % of car cost even though battery cost may drop).

It may take a few years to happen but one blogger above correctly pointed out an owner of a new Tesla (3 years from now) may be reluctant to exchange his expensive battery (even $150/kwh is amost $13,000 for an 85 KWH battery) for one 3 years old an unknown number of charge cycles so much closer to its end of life.

But as you pointed out "why worry" since you have the option of exchanging it for another.

Here's why: Assume for the moment there existed a low cost engine exchange program for our current IC engines.  Instead of going in for service you went in for a pit stop and drove away with a different engine "all tuned up and ready to go" but clearly one that may have far more miles on its bearnings, camshaft, and other parts that eventially wear out.

How would you feel about exchanging your brand "new" engine? And who pays for repair if your exchange blows up tomorrow?

And if your car's engine has been out a few yeras (assume 4) then simple prabability tells me your cahnce of getting an engine older than your new car's engine is preetty great.

If you had an old engine and in all probability would receive a newer better one, no problem, right?  But who is going to suffer the cost of wear and tear and the eventual demise of the engines? Or batteries?

You might say Tesla, right? That assumes they can build in a cost for each battery exchange and create a sinking fund to replace the battery when it reaches EOL.

But that won't work. Reason: No one is forced to use the echange program so that reveue to retire the spent battereies isn't linked to that cost. As an example I might never use the exchange service and charge my battery free (or from home power) until close to its EOL and then go to an exchahge station, pay the minimal fee and drive away with a much newer battery (presumamby) for practically no cost.

Have you ever used the propane tank exchange services? Yes, their prices seem exorbitant compared to stations that refill customer tanks but the reason is not just opportunistic price gouging. Take a look at the cutomer returned tanks! Many must be scrapped and that cost is reflected in those prices.

Just as in my Tesla example a customer who has always refilled his tanks with no revenue going to the exchange provider can take his tank to a convenience store and get a new (or newly refurbished) one and all the exchange provider gets is the excahnge fee.  These propane tanks are only about $25 but even so the exchage provider does not charge that much above the gas cost so he loses money when a customer's exchange must be scrapped and the rest of us must pay for it.

The only way I see this working is for Tesla to own the batteries and charge the customer fees to cover its cost over its useful life.  There would probably be a fixed fee based on no recharging (just leasing the $25K battery and neber owning it) as well as a fee based on charging cycles assuming that is a measure of battery life.

Assuming a $25K battery and money at 3% $750/year would be needed to cover the investment opportunity cost alone without any depreciation or amortization but we know it can't last forever.

If the battery has a finite life based on charging cycles that cost would need to be recovered  in addition. I don't know that value.  If 1000 cycles then another $25/charge.  If it's 5000 cycles then only $5/ charge.  And if its life is use and time related (like 5000 cycles or 10 years whichever comes first) then that needs to be factored in.

Amortizing the $25K battery over 10 years at 3% would require payments of $241.40 per month so I expect that might approach the minimum charge to the consumer to make such a program viable. If the cost per charge cycle were $25 and he had more than 10 per month the fee would need to increase to cover the fact that he was depleting the life expectancy faster than the 10 year amortization recoverd its cost.

These are just some thoughts based on pure guesses (as to a 10 year life and costs per charge cycle) and are meant to be examples of factors that need to be addressed in any battery excahnge that is sustainable.  Manufacturers (Tesla included) are certainly free to take revenue from one area (new car profits) to subsidize another (like free electricity for charging or battery exchange programs) but one way or the other the revenue must come from somewhere. With new car sales growing it's possible profits for such subsidies could continue for a long time but at some point the sum of prior car sales using those subsidies will overshadow new sales to subsidize them and those programs must be sustainable on their own.

 

CharlesM
User Rank
Silver
Re: A carmaker in the refueling business
CharlesM   7/3/2013 2:04:50 PM
What an elaborate straw man argument, Nexsen. You should win some kind of creative writing prize for that.

Nexsen
User Rank
Iron
Re: A carmaker in the refueling business
Nexsen   7/3/2013 3:07:13 PM
Well, CharlesM, I'm not too creative a writer since I had to look up what a "straw man argument' is.  Wikipedia says: 

A straw man or straw person, also known in the UK as an Aunt Sally,[1][2] is a type of argument and is an informal fallacy based on misrepresentation of an opponent's position.[3]

I would really like to know what you thought was a fallacy and who I viewed as an opponent and misrepresented.

 I think both you and Jerry mistook my comments as being against EV's.

That's not the case. I am a Tesla fan after seeing one recently and find what Elon Musk has accomplished to be absolutely amazing.

The intent of my comments were to focus some attention on what will be necessary for any sustainable battery exchange program to work.  This is definitely not criticism of Tesla since they haven't defined how it will work but some bloggers have stated "assumptions" that can't work. (Ideas like paying a very small fee and exchanging your old $25K battery with reduced like expectancy for a newer one worth thousands more.)

Jerry mentions cases where battery exchange has been used and I believe they were all cases where the batteries were all owned by the fleet owners, taxi companies, etc. and as I stated I believe that is the solution. The owner of the battery (perhaps Tesla) can certainly exchange them for consumers if they are theirs to begin with and base the charge to provide batteries to customers on whatever it takes to make the service viable.

That is what I think will be required unless a customer driving into the charging station with an old battery worth perhaps half of what a new one costs is willing to pay perhaps $10,000 to drive away with a not only "charged" but much newer battery.

That was my point.  And that's business reality not a rant against electric cars.  I hope I made the same point in my hypothetical example of an internal combustion engine exchange program so it's nothing to do with electric versus conventional.

My point would be true if someone offered an exchange program for convetional lead acid batteries for conventional cars.  They cost perhaps $200 so it would not be viable for a company to offer to exchange old batteries (they only last 3 or 4 years) in their 4th year for "fully charged" newer batteries for 72 cents. ($90/$25K  = $.72/$200)

 

CharlesM
User Rank
Silver
Re: A carmaker in the refueling business
CharlesM   7/3/2013 3:20:58 PM
I just thought you made a precarious argument based on conjecture, suppositions, weak assumptions, flimsy premises, etc.  That's my opinion.

Nexsen
User Rank
Iron
Re: A carmaker in the refueling business
Nexsen   7/3/2013 3:48:40 PM
CharlesM,

I would still apprecaite specifics on what you felt were suppositions, weak assumptions, flimsy premises, etc.

 

CharlesM
User Rank
Silver
Re: A carmaker in the refueling business
CharlesM   7/3/2013 4:35:18 PM
OK:

Barring a major breakthrough batteries will remain a major fraction of the cost of electric vehicles. It's currently over 30% for expensive models and will increase as mass market (cheaper) models evolve (as a % of car cost even though battery cost may drop).

Who says batt cost will increase as a % of the car cost? A Volt battery might now be 50% of the $40k car price, and if they reduce costs by $10k and pass those on, it will be a $30k car w/ a battery that's only 33% of the total. Down, not up (but who really knows)?

It may take a few years to happen but one blogger above correctly pointed out an owner of a new Tesla (3 years from now) may be reluctant to exchange his expensive battery (even $150/kwh is amost $13,000 for an 85 KWH battery) for one 3 years old an unknown number of charge cycles so much closer to its end of life.

Maybe, or they'll prefer the odds that the replacement is newer/better, or if they're concerned maybe they'll opt to have their original shipped back to them, as Musk announced as an option. Rich buyers, rich options, right? This whole exchange is a premium service for the more well-heeled (and Design News commenters who think EVs are a failure because the range is too low and it takes too long to recharge).

...But who is going to suffer the cost of wear and tear and the eventual demise of the engines? Or batteries?

You might say Tesla, right? That assumes they can build in a cost for each battery exchange and create a sinking fund to replace the battery when it reaches EOL.

But that won't work. Reason: No one is forced to use the echange program so that reveue to retire the spent battereies isn't linked to that cost. As an example I might never use the exchange service and charge my battery free (or from home power) until close to its EOL and then go to an exchahge station, pay the minimal fee and drive away with a much newer battery (presumamby) for practically no cost.

I don't think the program will be structured to allow such abuse unless costs are covered to make that an intended feature.

Have you ever used the propane tank exchange services? Yes, their prices seem exorbitant compared to stations that refill customer tanks but the reason is not just opportunistic price gouging. Take a look at the cutomer returned tanks! Many must be scrapped and that cost is reflected in those prices.

Just as in my Tesla example a customer who has always refilled his tanks with no revenue going to the exchange provider can take his tank to a convenience store and get a new (or newly refurbished) one and all the exchange provider gets is the excahnge fee.  These propane tanks are only about $25 but even so the exchage provider does not charge that much above the gas cost so he loses money when a customer's exchange must be scrapped and the rest of us must pay for it.

Is this a fair comparison? The two different propane sales options are more like comparing single serve beer bottles to a refill in the same glass from a keg. Bulk sales are virtually always cheaper for obvious reasons.

The only way I see this working is for Tesla to own the batteries and charge the customer fees to cover its cost over its useful life.  There would probably be a fixed fee based on no recharging (just leasing the $25K battery and neber owning it) as well as a fee based on charging cycles assuming that is a measure of battery life.

Assuming a $25K battery and money at 3% $750/year would be needed to cover the investment opportunity cost alone without any depreciation or amortization but we know it can't last forever.

If the battery has a finite life based on charging cycles that cost would need to be recovered  in addition. I don't know that value.  If 1000 cycles then another $25/charge.  If it's 5000 cycles then only $5/ charge.  And if its life is use and time related (like 5000 cycles or 10 years whichever comes first) then that needs to be factored in.

Amortizing the $25K battery over 10 years at 3% would require payments of $241.40 per month so I expect that might approach the minimum charge to the consumer to make such a program viable. If the cost per charge cycle were $25 and he had more than 10 per month the fee would need to increase to cover the fact that he was depleting the life expectancy faster than the 10 year amortization recoverd its cost.

Where are you getting all these costs and assumptions??

These are just some thoughts based on pure guesses (as to a 10 year life and costs per charge cycle) and are meant to be examples of factors that need to be addressed in any battery excahnge that is sustainable.  Manufacturers (Tesla included) are certainly free to take revenue from one area (new car profits) to subsidize another (like free electricity for charging or battery exchange programs) but one way or the other the revenue must come from somewhere. With new car sales growing it's possible profits for such subsidies could continue for a long time but at some point the sum of prior car sales using those subsidies will overshadow new sales to subsidize them and those programs must be sustainable on their own.

Guesses indeed. Which makes your argument specious.

Jerry dycus
User Rank
Gold
Re: A carmaker in the refueling business
Jerry dycus   7/3/2013 2:33:03 PM
Nexsen all your objections have easy solutions if they are even a problem which anyone doing such would take care of.  Why not just say you are against EV's instead of such a misleading rant?

 

Remember battery swapping is 100+ yrs old used in the taxi, truck fleets of 1900-1920's in many cities and milk trucks until the 60's, no?

The Leaf has a exchangable battery pack as do some Citrons? EV's now and they are already swapping in France with battery rentals/lease and spreading around Europe now.

 

 

Watashi
User Rank
Platinum
Re: A carmaker in the refueling business
Watashi   7/6/2013 12:36:01 PM
It was actually a pretty good post.  Labeling Nexsen as anti-EV for simply pointing out challenges that will need to be address in the proposed business model seems a bit hysterical.

Your examples, the first of which are in the dustbin of history and the second is a start-up in a country with a quasi-command economy, don't help the case for swappable batteries.  Please provide something substantive if you wish to help address these very real issues.

Watashi
User Rank
Platinum
Re: A carmaker in the refueling business
Watashi   7/6/2013 12:18:19 PM
You have a very good point that I had not considered. 

So much of the cost of these electric vehicles is being obfuscated to make them look commercially viable; it makes me suspicious of the whole niche.

Elizabeth M
User Rank
Blogger
Re: A carmaker in the refueling business
Elizabeth M   7/9/2013 4:36:34 AM
Well yes, there are a lot of hurdles to this, but I still think it's a worthwhile and innovative concept nonetheless. Something has to be done to convince people EVs are the way to go and reduce dependency on gasoline-powered cars.

Bunter
User Rank
Platinum
Refining the swap.
Bunter   7/3/2013 8:51:11 AM
One possible way to address the architecture question is multiple smaller battery packs.

A small car might have 4 packs, a luxury car 8 and a truck 12.  Smaller separate packs would also allow for greater design freedom as they could be positioned differently (the station would need to be able to detect the position and adjust accordingly).

Bottom loading may be OK in SoCal but I think it would be a disaster in Warroad MN, or any area with snow fall.  The bottom of the car would be muck in no time, fasteners packed full of grime.

Building infrastructure will take a great deal of time, as with all the other EV proposals to date.

I think the comments on fleet use are good, in that application this could work.  For the general public I am very doubtful that this will be big very soon.

Some thoughts.

Dennis

tekochip
User Rank
Platinum
Working the Problem
tekochip   7/3/2013 10:13:08 AM
At least Tesla has proven that a battery swap could be done.  I don't hold much faith in making the swap economically feasible, but that would be the next engineering hurdle.  Not all advances in technology happen by accident, sometimes you have to work the problem.


Jim_E
User Rank
Platinum
Interesting, but doesn't address the root cause
Jim_E   7/3/2013 10:15:05 AM
Interesting approach, but this doesn't address the root cause of batteries still having horrible charge characteristics.  I give Tesla credit for designing the car in a way that the batteries can be swapped out, as that does give them an edge, but I have no desire for a vehicle with limited range, and non-universal fueling support.  (Well, I guess you can plug it in anywhere....)

When the breakthrough battery / energy storage technology does finally arrive, it will be interesting to see how electric vehicles are adopted by the general public.

I hope that the gasoline infrastructure doesn't totally disappear though, as I plan to keep a classic car or two, and they'll need fuel!

Watashi
User Rank
Platinum
Win ME over
Watashi   7/3/2013 11:35:21 AM
If they want to win me over all they have to do is let me have the sporty model for under $10K.  It will barely be able to get to work and back, but if it is as fun as a sports car, I would learn to like it.

  Paying real money for any EV novelty car just won't work.  I refuse to live near urban centers, refuse to drive anemic cars, and rack up over 100 miles a day.  I won't even pay $15K for a Polaris RZR, and I would likely have more use for it.

Good work on the performance front (except range), but more work is needed on the rest.  

CharlesM
User Rank
Silver
Re: Win ME over
CharlesM   7/3/2013 1:59:07 PM
That's the spirit, Watashi! Nobody should buy EVs until they're superior to gas cars in every way and cost a fraction of the price of the guzzlers we love so much. Until then, just keep burning expensive hydrocarbons! If it gets to be a problem, somebody else can deal with it. Take that, stupid government!

Jerry dycus
User Rank
Gold
Re: Win ME over
Jerry dycus   7/3/2013 2:46:29 PM
Seaking of EV's being superior The Lightning MC EV just beat all the other MC's in the Pike's Peak race, is the fastest production MC at over 200mph with well o0ver 100 mile range.

 

The E-tracer aero cabin MC EV goes 200 miles range and limited to 150 mph by the factory though has the power for close to 200mph.

The Tesla is better than any lux sedan as shown by it cutting other lux sales as it puts them to shame.

 

In a few yrs EV's will just blow away ICE's in every way. My Aero MC can charge in 15 minutes using 1920's tech. Remember the 1911 Baker Electric had a 110 mile range back then. Think if EV's had the same investment as ICE's how better off the world would be?

 

But doesn't matter as in 20 yrs oil will be too valuable to burn making gas cars moot. Fight it all you want but EV's will win as far less costly than ICE's even now. 

A Leaf EV in 5-7 yrs can pay it's full cost just in gas savings, making it free compared to a gas car total costs.

Watashi
User Rank
Platinum
Re: Win ME over
Watashi   7/6/2013 12:45:49 PM
The Lightning looks nice, but still doesn't address my requirements.  Cost and range are key no matter how much I would REALLY like the performance. 

Guess I need to play the lottery for my taste in EVs!!!

Bunter
User Rank
Platinum
Re: Win ME over
Bunter   7/5/2013 8:31:26 AM
Hi CharlesM,

Rather amusing that you go after another for a "strawman"-that is precisely what you do here to Watashi.

He merely gives his take (and I suspect with some tongue in cheek) on what it would take for himto buy, even notes he is willing to compromise some functionality.

You then expand it into a sweeping statement that "Nobody should buy EVs until they're superior to gas cars in every way and cost a fraction of the price of the guzzlers we love so much."  This is nothing like what he stated yet you project it on him.  Pure strawman.  Classic.

I have noted you using this approach in previous blogs and resisted bringing it up-your taking another to task for the same was just a bit much to swallow.

Try relaxing a bit.

Cheerio,

Bunter

CharlesM
User Rank
Silver
Re: Win ME over
CharlesM   7/8/2013 1:06:41 PM
"Nobody should buy EVs until they're superior to gas cars in every way and cost a fraction of the price of the guzzlers we love so much." That seems to me to be a pretty accurate statement of many of the views around here. Watashi provides one of the best examples:

If they want to win me over all they have to do is let me have the sporty model for under $10K.  It will barely be able to get to work and back, but if it is as fun as a sports car, I would learn to like it.

Really, it should cost $10k and still be smoother, quieter, and more reliable/less maintenance than any ICE and cost 3 cents/mile for fuel too???  Are you still avoiding the purchase of a PC because you're waiting for prices to come down?


Paying real money for any EV novelty car just won't work.  I refuse to live near urban centers, refuse to drive anemic cars, and rack up over 100 miles a day.  I won't even pay $15K for a Polaris RZR, and I would likely have more use for it.

"Novelty car"? "Anemic"? Nothing over the top here.

78RPM
User Rank
Gold
Re: Win ME over
78RPM   7/8/2013 3:39:13 PM
@CharlesM; I love your humor and satire. Seriously, that's a compliment, not sarcasm I'm giving here. I particularly liked your comment about whether gas guzzlers would be so popular were it not for Uncle Sam subsidizing the oil industry with tax credits. Maybe Uncle Sam should subsidize Apple to make iPads. Tesla recently paid off its $400+ million loan from Uncle Sam in full -- and posted its first profit last quarter. If government wants to pick winners and losers, I'd bet on Elon Musk any day.

Let's not forget that it was the federal government that brought us the Interstate Highway System (can you imagine Congress approving a similar project today?), nuclear energy, refinement of lasers for practical applications, seat belts in cars, space travel, on and on. The European Union has learned from this and now "invests" (if government can really invest), in stem cell research, the search for bosons, and building a supercomputer model of the human brain. Eventually, we will all benefit from such enterprises that seem so unmarketable today. Go engineers.

CharlesM
User Rank
Silver
Re: Win ME over
CharlesM   7/8/2013 4:15:13 PM
Let's not forget that it was the federal government that brought us the Interstate Highway System (can you imagine Congress approving a similar project today?)

I was just thinking over the weekend about that list of things we are reliant on from the federal government, and that exact thought came to mind. Indeed, today's Congress would never stand for anything like the Interstate Highway System.

Here is an excellent recent article about how this Tea Party-manipulated Congress thinks about science research:

http://www.slate.com/articles/technology/future_tense/2013/06/lamar_smith_nsf_funding_you_can_t_mandate_scientific_discovery.html

Lamar Smith and Tom Coburn are real peaches, probably supported and admired by many DesignNews commenters. They're as legendary for their denial of climate change as Inhofe is.  These people are controlling Congress and they are liars and ignoramuses.

78RPM
User Rank
Gold
Re: Win ME over
78RPM   7/8/2013 5:43:19 PM
@CharlesM,

Thank you CharlesM. The link you provided is very incisive.

http://www.slate.com/articles/technology/future_tense/2013/06/lamar_smith_nsf_funding_you_can_t_mandate_scientific_discovery.html

My wife is president of her quilting guild and they make it a rule that no politics or religion be discussed -- too divisive.  They get along fine as long as they follow that rule.  This could be a lesson for us as engineers. Nevertheless ...

Lamar Smith's bill includes the following language to determine whether a project is worth government funding:

(1) is in the interests of the United States to advance the national health, prosperity, or welfare, and to secure the national defense by promoting the progress of science;
 (2) is the finest quality, is ground breaking, and answers questions or solves problems that are of utmost importance to society at large, and;
 (3) is not duplicative of other research projects being funded by the Foundation or other federal science agencies.

If you were an entrepreneur and sought funding from a venture capitalist, could you follow Lamar Smith's rules?  Conversely, would a venture capitalist insist upon them? I think not.  As Yogi Berra said, "Predictions are hard, especially about the future."  Did Microsoft establish ground breaking technology? No. It reverse engineered IBM's technology and marketed it.  Steve Wozniak got the idea for the Macintosh from visiting PARC. And we can't duplicate other's research? The other guy might be an incompetent dweeb who doesn't know how to submit a paper. Lamaar Smith might as well admit that he is either a Luddite or a Primitivist.

Watashi
User Rank
Platinum
Re: Win ME over
Watashi   7/6/2013 1:02:30 PM
I was speaking specifically about my requirements and desires for a mode of transportation.  You can choose whatever you want; I'm not pushing my views on you – you are the crusader.  But you have yet to offer a solution.  Instead you hysterically rant as opposed to providing a reasoned argument.  Your glass must be half empty... and your earth, flat.

William K.
User Rank
Platinum
Battery life and battery swaps
William K.   7/3/2013 10:35:36 PM
A ten year battery life is a reasonable guess, and the price is anyboy's guess, since there are too many variables to allow an accurate calculation, or even a good guess. So really the whole argument is a comparison of guesses, and just about as worthwhile.

But I do challenge the assertion that petroleum wull become that terribly scarce, unless the governments choose to make it scarce, which is a very real possibility. There are too many individuals who intensely hate the freedoms that "the masses" have, and they really believe that if everyone could be forced to do things their way, "utopia" would follow. Some of them are very subtle and you would not recognize their agenda, others are more open and we recognize them as serious left-wingers. 

Really, electric vehicles of whatever kind will need to make it on their own, since the government can't subsideize them forever, and it is quite hard to make people buy things that they really don't want. And taking away the alternatives would be a good way to start a revolution, so it would be a very poor choice.

CharlesM
User Rank
Silver
Re: Battery life and battery swaps
CharlesM   7/8/2013 12:29:33 PM
Really, electric vehicles of whatever kind will need to make it on their own, since the government can't subsideize them forever,...

How much longer must we subsidize fossil fuels? You'd think the billions in quarterly profits for that industry would let the government discontinue those after 100 years, but you seem to be fine with indefinite oil and gas subsidies.


Battar
User Rank
Platinum
Better place
Battar   7/4/2013 6:54:35 AM
BetterPlace did exactly that over here. They ddin't just talk about it, they built the battery swap stations all over the country, and put the cars on the road. Then they went bust. And this in a country where fuel costs 8$/gallon. Part of the problem was targeting teh wrong market - they should have gone after the light delivery vehicle and second family car market, instead of the family sallon segment. Tesla is facing the same problem - the market segment for their type of vehicle doesn't fit the business model.

CharlesM
User Rank
Silver
Re: Better place
CharlesM   7/8/2013 12:36:52 PM
BetterPlace did exactly that over here. They ddin't just talk about it, they built the battery swap stations all over the country, and put the cars on the road. Then they went bust.

But what battery swappable cars did they have and how do any car companies get by selling only in tiny markets like Israel???? It sort of matters.


Tesla is facing the same problem - the market segment for their type of vehicle doesn't fit the business model.

If Tesla is always limited to +$70k cars, that segment hasn't seemed to hurt Porsche, Audi, and many other brands.


Battar
User Rank
Platinum
Re: Better place
Battar   7/9/2013 3:50:11 AM
NO RATINGS
Charles M,

               Better place offered the Renault Fluence, an insipid 5 seater family saloon. The price was about equivalent to the diesel version of the car (more expensive than the gas version). They sold about 700 cars, and charged a monthly lease for battery swaps. The economics made it just slightly more expensive than fossil fueled cars. (until someone finds a way to differentialy tax electricity used for charging EVs). The idea was to run a pilot program in Israel and then expand all over the world. They proved that the idea is workable, given the investment funding and proper management and marketing. BetterPlace more or less scored F on the last 2 items. They targeted the "company car" segment. The luxury car market wouldn't justify the investment.

CharlesM
User Rank
Silver
Re: Better place
CharlesM   7/9/2013 9:54:10 AM
NO RATINGS
Thanks, Battar, for some answers to the Better Place debacle. No, 700 cars won't get the job done, even without scoring F on proper management and marketing.

TJ McDermott
User Rank
Blogger
PIT STOP!
TJ McDermott   7/4/2013 7:38:12 PM
Now you too can feel like an Indy / NASCAR / F1 driver, pulling into pit row.

Long gone (except in NJ and OR) is the concept of full service gas stations.  Tesla kind of brings back the idea.

This marketing practically writes itself.  Elron, call me.

 

bobjengr
User Rank
Platinum
BATTERY SWAP
bobjengr   7/5/2013 11:27:12 AM
This is an innovative way to market your product and I definitely wish them well.  Charles, do we know what prompted them to undertake this option?  Was it a drop (or lack) of sales or other considerations? Specifically, quality in construction and assembly or reliability during operation?   I definitely agree with one comment in that it will be very interesting to see what happens to the entire EV market when the FED removes any and all tax credits.  Will the products stand on their own?  I suppose time will tell.   Excellent post.

CharlesM
User Rank
Silver
Re: BATTERY SWAP
CharlesM   7/8/2013 12:54:00 PM
Charles, do we know what prompted them to undertake this option?  Was it a drop (or lack) of sales or other considerations? Specifically, quality in construction and assembly or reliability during operation?   

I think it was mostly to counter the conventional wisdom that you can't add range to an EV nearly as fast as for an ICE. Turns out this is twice as fast, so that preconception has been debunked, even though this may be a rare luxury option for a good while.

I definitely agree with one comment in that it will be very interesting to see what happens to the entire EV market when the FED removes any and all tax credits.  Will the products stand on their own?  I suppose time will tell. 

It will be interesting to see what happens when the oil companies don't have Uncle Sam to hold their hands anymore and to indemnify them against damages every time there's a huge disaster like the Deepwater Horizon. We could break our addiction to dirty, unsustainable oil if the industry wasn't so heavily invested in dishonest propaganda and anti-science political friends like James Inhofe.

Tool_maker
User Rank
Platinum
Start up costs.
Tool_maker   7/8/2013 4:55:14 PM
  I may have missed it, but who is going to stock all of those batteries? I gassed up on my way in and ther were 4 cars refueling at 4:30 am. Using somebodies post some where in this ramble that. equates to $100,000 in battery inventory for just 4 vehicles at one station for one fillup. Extrapolate thos numbers how ever you want and you have created a totally ridiculous business plan.

  Charles you can get as mad and insulting as you want, but EV's are a rich man's play toy or a golf cart. No I take that back, golf courses with steep hills need gasoline powered carts to climb the hills. Unless Scotty beams down his hyper drive crystals, EV's will always only exist in the future.

CharlesM
User Rank
Silver
Re: Start up costs.
CharlesM   7/8/2013 6:25:04 PM
Charles you can get as mad and insulting as you want, but EV's are a rich man's play toy or a golf cart. No I take that back, golf courses with steep hills need gasoline powered carts to climb the hills. Unless Scotty beams down his hyper drive crystals, EV's will always only exist in the future.

Where have I gotten mad and who have I insulted? Regarding EVs, you know nothing about what you're stating. Why pay attention to all the videos of electric cars blowing the doors off Vipers, Corvettes, M5s, Porsches, etc.? People like you obviously cannot learn anything new, so I won't bother trying. Just keep wastefully burning all that free carbon pollution your grandkids will suffer from. (Yes, that might be taken as a bit of an insult, but only in kind after your condescending remark.)

Tool_maker
User Rank
Platinum
Re: Start up costs.
Tool_maker   7/9/2013 6:36:28 AM
  You have not addressed the start up cost of battery swap stations. Each station woulld need hundres of thousands of dollars of inventory to provide a $25 swap. What bank will finance such a business plan? Only the bank of tax payers by courtesy of Uncle Sam.

  No I have not ignored high performance electric cars anymore than I have forgotten that Parnelli Jones won an Indy 500 in a turbine powered engine that was to revolutionized the motor car industry. One can do wondorous things with prorotypes and an unlimited budget.

  Lastly, someone needs to explain how charging a million+ batteries over an overtaxed grid with the majority of power being produced by coal or gas fired generators is going to do anything to reduce any kind of pollution, real or imagined.

78RPM
User Rank
Gold
Re: Start up costs.
78RPM   7/9/2013 2:59:58 PM
@Tool_Maker, You asked for an explanation of how EVs can reduce pollution "real or imagined." I'm not sure how you pollution is imagined. Have you breathed in any big cities? But to answer your question, let's assume that 100% of the energy to recharge batteries comes from coal/gas fueled power plants, even though that's not true, but I'll allow that for the sake of argument. Power plants have to clean up their emissions. Yes, cars do too, but a centralized process is more efficient than a decentralized method on every vehicle. Second, an EV uses zero energy when waiting at a stop light (except for air conditioning, etc.). Third, EVs can harvest the kinetic energy of braking the car to recharge the battery, thus recovering some of the energy it took to accelerate the car.

I doubt that "each station woulld need hundres of thousands of dollars of inventory to provide a $25 swap." If we could achieve standardization of batteries, the recharging stations could be pretty automated on an assembly line process with some being recharged and age tested while others are ready for deployment.

Further, I think vehicle battey demand could vault us into a new generation of battery technology or other energy source. It would enable new capital formation that would be shoveled back into improvement.

Tool_maker
User Rank
Platinum
Re: Start up costs.
Tool_maker   7/9/2013 4:16:10 PM
  I live in a big city and cannot recall any deaths from air pollution. I am going to do some total guess work in math here. 2.4 million people in my home town. Say only 20% own vehicles. That is 480,000 vehicles and get wild and figure they only need to be recharged once a week and stagger that equally over (7) days. Using the $25,000/battery contained earlier in this thread, that equates to $17.14 million in batteries in swap stations alone. How many more will be needed in reserve is anybody's guess. So my figure of hundreds of thousands sound rather low. Find a banker to back such a venture with a return of $171,000/day. That is .001%/day return on the initial investment. The investment will not get much better in really large cities like Chicago, New York, etc.

  On the subject of pollution, how are you going to dispose of these millions of batteries when they start to go bad? How expensive will the rare earth minerals needed to produce all of these vehicles. A commodity controlled by our great friends and allies in China. Charles said I was leaving my grandchildren to deal with carbon dioxide, but what are we leaving then to deal with when it comes time to handle millions of batteries? Plants absorb CO2 so I guess in all of this future development someone will create a plant to absorb lead and all of the other heavy metals contained therein.

  I am all for being optimistic about future developments, but pure pipe dreams are not the answer. Electric vehicles have been in use for my whole adult life and you see them daily in factories, wearhouses and many retail stores. They fill a great niche, but I think to expect them to replace ICEs without first rebuilding the entire electrical grid and solving the problems involved with battery disposal is only taking place in someone's imagination.

oldpartsnrust
User Rank
Iron
Re: Start up costs.
oldpartsnrust   7/26/2013 1:56:54 PM
NO RATINGS
A few points because I had similar issues with this too.

1. the battery swap was designed into the car from the beginning, not added on later

2. these cars use a/c induction motors, no "rare earth" permanent magnets here

3. the battery you purchase with the car is your battery, if you swap out to get back on the road faster, you come back to get your original battery, pay for the new battery or pay Tesla to bring your battery to your house

4. used batteries that are no longer viable to power a vehicle (<75% of capacity) can be used as back up systems and as grid tied storage (Solar City is another of Musk's companies)

5. the Superchargers are free for life, so the swap option gives you a choice - Fast or Free.

6. the number of charging and swap out stations won't need to be anywhere near as many as gas stations because 90% of the vehicle charging will be done at home.  when you leave in the morning you are fully charged with >200 miles of range....  IF you need to recharge, go to a supercharger and get ~ 165 miles of range in 20 minutes or >200 in 40 minutes ALL FOR FREE..... or swap the battery and be on your way in 90 SECONDS for about $80.00.

7. centralized electricity generation benefits from economies of scale in efficiency as well as being easier and cheaper to clean up when compared to individual ICEs.

8. i won't even mention solar,,, well I did, but I won't talk about it.

 

 

 

Cabe Atwell
User Rank
Blogger
Re: Start up costs.
Cabe Atwell   7/31/2013 7:09:34 PM
NO RATINGS
By the end of 2013 there will only be 80 fast-charge stations across the US which still limits the distance you can travel, especially in rural areas. At $500,000 a pop it will be some time before they'll be common place like gas stations.

oldpartsnrust
User Rank
Iron
Re: Start up costs.
oldpartsnrust   7/31/2013 10:08:37 PM
NO RATINGS
I seem to remember that the supercharger stations cost ~$50k apiece, not $500,000.00.  The current plans include approx 300 across the US mostly located within 150 to 200 miles of each other.  Remember that these would mainly be used for long range travel as the current >200 mile range is enough for most people to cover their commute or even a trip to the beach or the mountains!  Owners wake up the a full battery every day.  I take a 360 mile trip ~6 times a year and there would be 2 supercharger stations on the way there and 2 on the way back.  This isn't a trip to a major city like NY or Boston, this is to upstate NY.  There is also a supercharger station nearby that, if they equip it so, could allow me to purchase the smaller battery and swap in the larger one for a trip.  Then I could reclaim my original battery after the trip.  For about the cost of a single tank of gas.... unbelievable.

 

Fast or Free, your choice.  BTW, I am a Musketeer.

Cabe Atwell
User Rank
Blogger
Re: Start up costs.
Cabe Atwell   7/31/2013 10:58:26 PM
NO RATINGS
The charging stations for the Tesla "Road Trip" initiative is up at the $500,000 level. By 2015, there will be enough in the USA to drive anywhere and reach a charging location. What a great idea.

http://www.cnbc.com/id/100832350

C

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