Friday, November 06, 2009

Transitioning to Electric Cars: Ford Not Sold on Battery Swapping

I can't wait to own my first electric car -- and our dream is to have a solar home and electric car, so we charge on the power of the sun.  This clean transport solution will help us both slash our carbon footprint and save big-time money on fuel costs.

I've always liked the idea of Better Place to replace gas stations with battery swapping stations.  Seems to make sense.  The infrastructure's already there all around the country (and world).  So instead of stopping in for a fill-up, people can stop in for a battery swap.

According to Treehugger, however, Ford has doubts about the feasibility of battery swapping:

Nancy Gioia, the director of global electrification at Ford (cool title), told ACE:

"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." [...]

"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.

It's also hard to expect that automakers will agree to limit themselves to a particular model of battery since things are changing so fast and having the best battery can mean a serious competitive advantage.

Very interesting.  Now that I think about it, having all those batteries on site will, indeed, take up lots of space.  I wonder if they can somehow convert underground gas tanks into underground battery storage facilities...

Either way, I still can't wait to own myself an electric vehicle -- bring 'em on!

Read more>>

Update: I just sent the above Treehugger post to a colleague of mine who is an expert on energy, and he responded -- colorfully -- as follows:

Blah blah blah...about the last opinion I'd consult on this question is that of Ford.

These guys just don't get it. Better Place IS developing a common standard. At least three major automakers are already building around it. While Ford is planning to come out with its first lithium-ion battery vehicle next year...and it's going to be a van.

I've never even heard the cooling loop argument before. I assume that it applies to non-lithium battery systems, but I don't know. I know it's not an issue for Nissan, Renault and Mitsubishi...

Feh. They're just talking their book and moving slow and making excuses for it.

So there you have a second opinion on the matter... --JLG


1 comment:

  1. Electric cars are useful in small doses, and can be beneficial for the environment. However, they cannot, and should not, be used to replace cars on the mass scale. We need more efficient long distance transportation systems for cargo and passengers, such as electrified rail.