Automotive News
Tesla Aims to Win Over Skeptics With Battery Swap Stations

Tesla's flat battery pack at the bottom of the Model S makes it possible for automated battery swap systems to replace the pack from underneath.   (Source: Design News)
Tesla’s flat battery pack at the bottom of the Model S makes it possible for automated battery swap systems to replace the pack from underneath.
(Source: Design News)

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Elizabeth M
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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.

Rob Spiegel
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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.


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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).



Jerry dycus
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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.


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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.  

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

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.

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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.

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