Blog: Dave LeggettBattery thoughts

Dave Leggett | 5 October 2009

It's becoming increasingly clear that the battery will be a big issue with electric cars. It is not going away. There's the technical performance issue (range, charge-cycles, charge time), charging infrastructure itself and the whole question of how it's all paid for. That issue of how it's paid for also comes with the knowledge that batteries are getting technically better all the time. You don't want to be stuck with paying for an inferior battery that has been superseded by much better ones. Imagine what that does to the residual value of your car.

Batteries that the customer leases rather than buys might be one way to tackle it. However, I do like the idea of batteries that you simply swap. If battery swap stations were created that worked on clear industry standards and were quick to use, I can imagine that appealing to consumers who for one reason or another don't want to or cannot easily charge the battery themselves (eg high-rise dwellers without reliable access to a parking space with charge point).

Every now and then, you just go and swap it. It might also meet the concern over degrading battery efficiency over time. When you pick up a battery there is perhaps a sliding scale of prices based on the number of charge-cycles the battery has already had. And a refuelling experience that sounds as easy as filling up with gasoline would have its attractions.

There would need to be a lot of swap stations though; a long special journey to get to one would be self-defeating in a vehicle where range is everything.

It could however, potentially, solve the 'second-order CO2' problem that arises from the generation of electricity at the power station. The newly produced swap batteries could be guaranteed zero-emission on power generation if they were, say, charged in a ring-fenced way - eg at a dedicated facility that charges them up via wave or wind power. Maybe the customer would pay a premium for a 'zero emission battery' if it was costly to do, but I'd guess some people would be more than happy to.


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