back to article Tesla unveils battery-swapping tech for fast car charging

Even as Tesla Motors labors to build out its North American network of "Supercharger" recharging stations, the electric carmaker has unveiled an additional system that promises to get its vehicles juiced up and ready to run in less time than it takes to fill a traditional car's tank with fuel. At an event at Tesla's Hawthorne …

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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    There is a slight problem

    Both of these ideas - fast chargers and battery swaps won't work for most people for obvious reasons which appear to have escaped Tesla - perhaps intentionally? Who is going to drive 50-200 miles out of their way to find a fast charging station or get a battery swapped? A lot of battery power would be consumed just running to and from the charging or battery swap site and the route a person would be traveling. Tesla is looking desperate which is no surprise considering EVs are so impractical that all they are good for is city use.

    1. James Hughes 1

      Re: There is a slight problem

      And yet the majority of the worlds driving population live in or around cities....so being only practical for city use isn't such a disadvantage....Not that I think that is the case of course. On my drive home from work, on my favourite route, which is about 35 miles. I do not pass ONE petrol station once I leave Cambridge. So you could argue it's not just electric cars that suffer the problem.

      1. Charles Manning

        Re: There is a slight problem

        "nd yet the majority of the worlds driving population..." are not ever going to afford a Tesla so wtf do they care?

        If you ever did run out of petrol, you could hitch a ride and come back with 5l of fuel. Try do that with a leccy!

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: There is a slight problem

          @Charles Manning,

          http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/10/automobiles/stalled-on-the-ev-highway.html

          That pretty much sums up what you were thinking, right?

          1. Danny 14 Silver badge

            Re: There is a slight problem

            IIt would be better if they had a "limp home" small fuel driven generator built in. Enough to get you a hundred miles at 30mph etc. Sure that makes it a hybrid but also ensures you wont be stranded anywhere.

            1. Terry 6 Silver badge

              Re: There is a slight problem

              If my memory is correct some makers have "battery extender" petrol engines. Or even rechargable hybrids, so that both residual energy from the petrol motor (the hybrid bit) and mains electricity can power the leccy motor.

    2. ryanp
      Thumb Down

      Re: There is a slight problem

      I dont think that this has escaped anyone but you. Yes there are only a few that are open today, but there are many more scheduled to be opening through 2013 and beyond. Check out their site for the chargers to see where they will be added. Granted today they are pretty limited, but from their plans they will be available on many major highways within the next 1/2 to 1 year.

      By fall you will be able to go up and down both coasts and by next year you can cross the US using several routes. I am guessing that since they have a page dedicated to the release dates that they are aware of this.

      http://www.teslamotors.com/supercharger

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: There is a slight problem

      I don't think that Tesla is "looking desperate" - they are at least thinking about the issues of electric cars and working on ideas to address them. I think in-city, electric cars can have a possible future but I see two immediate issues:

      1 - the cars tend to be a lot more expensive. For the moment, residual value is still somewhat of a mystery, as the technology keeps improving the question is what happens to the old cars - I'd say any manufacturer will either have to plan in a decent upgrade process or face questions from intelligent customers. This also has an impact of the cost over the lifetime of the car: how much fuel do you need to save to repay what you spent more to buy the car?

      2 - the active radius of a full fuel tank is still substantially higher than that of a single charge. That $99 vs $50 comparison doesn't look that glorious when you consider that a 2.0l diesel engine like the ones you can find in the lower model Audis actually gets over 1000km out of a single tank, which drops to about 600-700 if you have a lead foot and a German motorway in between the A and B endpoints of your journey (been there, done that and that was at a measured average speed of 165 km/h). So, from a practical perspective that comparison doesn't work - hybrids do better there.

      However, if you can charge the car for free, the money equation changes quite considerably. And it strikes me as a lot more fun to drive - someone has one of them where I'm working right now and it's hard to catch the owner because you never hear him arrive :). Tesla has at least addressed the issue of electric cars being boring - these cars seem fun to drive.

    4. LarsG
      Meh

      When they

      When they develop an electric car that has a range of 500 miles at 80mph and does this on two Duracell AA batteries I will buy one. Until then I will continue polluting the atmosphere.

      1. James Hughes 1

        Re: When they @LarsG

        What an utterly stupid thing to say.

        1. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

          Re: When they @LarsG @ James Hughes 1

          Only the bit about the two very small batteries. The rest is quite sensible. I expect to get at least 300 miles out of a charge without degrading the battery significantly - the same as I get out of a tank of petrol in my Subaru.

  2. Jay Zelos
    Thumb Up

    I imagine they said the same thing about the first petrol filling stations and cars.

    This sounds like a real solution to the short range of electric cars, Renault had the same idea a few years ago. The difficulty is in putting it into practise, its going to cost a fortune in the short term until sufficient volumes of cars are using them. I can see the batteries being replaced by the supplier AKA portable camping gas supplies long term, much more practical.

    1. Charles Manning

      The first petrol stations and cars...

      Petrol allowed a completely different history.

      Firstly, cars would typically carry 20+ litres of petrol in cans strapped to the running boards etc. That gave them extra range.

      Then wagonwrights and general stores would keep and sell cans of petrol to the odd car that drove past.

      As vehicle traffic picked up, they shifted to bulk petrol sold from bowsers and then eventually the specialist petrol station emerged.

      That model worked because the overheads were relatively low. The capital commitment was just the cans and the only tool required was a funnel.

      In theory, the battery people could do the same thing. They could get petrol stations and general stores to stock swapper batteries, but those are far too expensive and you need a lot of gear to effect the battery change. And hopefully everyone would be able to use the same battery formats.

      1. Javc

        Re: The first petrol stations and cars...

        It seems like a similar situation now. Pull up to any business with a power outlet and beg or buy a few hours of charge when you are running low. Yes it might be inconvenient, but it hardly seems like you will be stranded for days.

    2. JeffyPooh Silver badge
      Pint

      "I imagine they said the same thing about the first petrol filling stations and cars"

      Yeah, and there were probably petrol fanbois back in 1886 that failed to understand that it would be *decades* until the petrol powered car became truly and honestly practical.

      Seems like the same thing here.

      Look at the bright side. Every outrageous over-hyped BS lie about the practicality of a new technology eventually becomes true. E.g. 1970's AI to IBM's Watson, how many years?

  3. Pan_Handle
    Stop

    Apples and pears

    Not a like for like comparison - a full tank of Tesla will get you 300 miles. 87L of petrol (even in a 2.3L engine) will get you a lot further.

    1. GettinSadda

      Re: Apples and pears

      Not sure the exact model of Audi, but it looks like perhaps an A6 which has an official range on a full tank of 499 miles. So, less than twice the range for ~$100 of gas. If it costs $50 for 300 miles in a Tesla, and $100 for 499 in an Audi then the Tesla is looking good.

      1. Danny 14 Silver badge

        Re: Apples and pears

        For that range in a tesla it will be hypermiling though. Not so in the audi.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Apples and pears

        "If it costs $50 for 300 miles in a Tesla, and $100 for 499 in an Audi then the Tesla is looking good."

        Today, yes. Tomorrow yes. But if EV's start to pick up, then the government will need to replace lost tax revenues, and electricity prices will need to double or treble for the carbon free generation that the EV fans want.

      3. annodomini2

        Re: Apples and pears

        The weakness being, you need to return to the original swap station for your battery pack. Assuming it hasn't been put in someone elses car.

  4. This post has been deleted by its author

    1. Anonymous Coward
      WTF?

      Re: complicated...

      > complicated, expensive and inconvenient.

      I can see many arguable objections, but seriously: "inconvenient"? Complicated?

      In what way exactly?

      You drive up, stuff happens, and you drive away. How much simpler does it get?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: complicated...

        ... it might be simple to use, but it's certainly not simple equipment. They even admit it's part of their assembly line in the video, ignoring it's probably all automated... so Dave and Jim probably aren't manually lugging around a 500kg battery pack. I've not looked into it, but I assume they probably have the same degradation issues as other batteries and whilst a $50 replacement battery is great for the consumer... it's not great for Tesla

        I can imagine the outlay, relatively for the first petrol station vs one of these pack replacement station even adjusted for inflation is well on Teslas side....

        The largest problem for me with it is clearly Tesla batteries won't work with other EVs... either Tesla won't want them too, or the other manufacturers will have other ideas. I don't think we've seen the EVs final form yet, I'm not actually sure any of the technology is totally ready for mass market adoption... though from a certain standpoint, in terms of actual cars I'd like to own, and being well, pretty smart, Tesla is by far and away the closest.

        1. Yet Another Commentard

          Re: complicated...

          The "complicated" bit is keeping "your" battery.

          Surely it would be better to buy a Tesla which has a battery in. That battery is not yours, it belongs to "the pool". Part of the Tesla's cost to you is adding to that pool. That battery may be new, maybe old. When it goes flat, swap it out. You get a replacement to keep until it goes flat, the charge station keeps your old one. Repeat.

          When charged each battery is tested. Below a certain level of "not charging fully" it is retired.

          Chances are you never see your "first" battery again, but as it was never yours, it does not matter.

          1. Terry Barnes

            Re: complicated...

            The Calor Gas model. Buy the energy, borrow the container.

            1. Nigel 11
              Unhappy

              Re: complicated...

              The trouble is that a battery degrades with age, and that the degradation is a function of how it is used. In contrast a Calor gas container is pretty much binary: OK with 100% capacity, or completely fubar.

              The only way I can see to make it work would be for every electric car owner to pay a one-time battery fee (transferrable, refundable when the car is scrapped) and for all batteries to be owned by the motor company (or by the national battery bank(*) ). That, plus standardized batteries and swap-robotics across all electric cars. That, plus some in-battery circuitry so that its charge capacity is known when it's swapped, and folks not needing full range would get a discount on an age-degraded battery.

              It's not impossible, but it maybe points at a need to give up private ownership of the cars themselves. The Streetcar model?

              (*) I mean bank. They used to use gold as capital. Now they use lies. Why not use Lithium?

  5. James Hughes 1

    In other electric car news...

    http://www.wired.com/autopia/2013/06/nissan-zeod-rc/

    Like it or not (and for some reason a lot of people here don;t like it) electric cars appear to be the future. I'm looking forward to it.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: In other electric car news...

      Fuel cell is the future. Guess what, you could make a hybrid fuel cell and they complement each other. The car uses electricity and a fuel cell and a battery can both provide it. This makes the need for battery swaps not a requirement. If you want to use only the battery you can charge the car at home, want to go further you will the tank with hydrogen. If the hydrogen leaks out, then you still have the battery to get you to a filling station. On the side of the road, a wrecker could have a tank of hydrogen to give you some to get you going again.

      The major advantage of hydrogen here, no specialist station. Buy a Tesla and you need to use a Tesla station for the battery swap. What happens if the Tesla station is broke? Easy to go to a different hydrogen station, not so easy for the Tesla.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      FAIL

      Re: In other electric car news...

      "electric cars appear to be the future"

      In some utopian vision, yes. More realistically they will at best be a small part of the future, because if they were a large part of future mobility then you very, very quickly run into electricity generation capacity limits, and into grid capacity constraints. In the UK, for example, transport energy demand is about 45% greater than total domestic energy demand from all sources including gas. But UK transport energy use is six times the amount of domestic energy supplied by electricity. You'd also dramatically exacerbate peak demand problems, although perhaps changing the time of day when they occur.

      Even if you only converted half of your transport to EVs, then you're still quadrupling domestic sector electricity use, and neither the national grid, local distribution, or generation sectors would be able to cope with that. Just to cope with wind and solar, the EU needs to spend €10^12 on the electricity network. How much would that be with quadrupled domestic demand?

    3. Enrico Vanni

      Re: In other electric car news...

      People have been saying this for almost as long as there have been cars, and it still isn't so. The fact that Tesla turn a profit only on the back of energy credit blackmail payments from other industries tells you everything you need to know.

      Electric cars are not green miracles - they simply shift the emissions elsewhere. Tesla's operation simply exploits California's laws on carbon exchange and NIMBY attitude to pollution - in the same way Google et al exploit the UK's tax laws....

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: In other electric car news...

        Almost every other car company only makes a profit on their investment arm and car financing deals.

        Others like GM have only ever made money by threatening to go bust if the government doesn't bail them out regularly.

        Just about every airline has been in chapter11 since it was founded - that doesn't mean flying is impractical

        1. Enrico Vanni
          Flame

          Re: In other electric car news...

          @YAAC - those are all straw men arguments. None of the situations you describe were engineered to be that way from the start.

          Tesla exploit legal structures regarding green taxes to make their business model sound and the watermelons applaud them for their high moral stance (because they believe it is motivated by planet-saving). Google et al do the same with corporation tax and they are pilloried for it.

          Seems it is not what you do but the pretensions you do it under.

      2. Tom 13

        Re: Electric cars are not green miracles

        Yep. This electric car mania reeks of the human Tesla's obsession with wireless transmission of electricity. If he'd managed to make that work, maybe there would be a place for an electric car.

  6. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Thumb Up

    Interesting idea Wonder how compatible it is with "Better Place"

    Because if it is then they can pick up a bunch of charging stations cheap.

    Giving people the choice between a free (but battery hammering) charging technology or a charged (but fast) swap system is a smart move. If Tesla can leverage this and get it adopted by other mfgs they can become major players in the infrastructure market. Why build your own when you can license or rent use of some one else infrastructure?

    Thumbs up for the idea.

  7. Mad Chaz

    This would work well in Quebec, where we have a lot of power generation capacity that's clean. Maybe we could stop giving the power away to compagnies owned overseas and use it ourselves ...

  8. GettinSadda

    "Their batteries will be fully charged, but they'll have to pay for a second swap to get them back."

    My understanding is that there is no charge for the swap that gives you your own battery back, if done at the same station that removed it. You will have to pay if you ask them to ship it elsewhere.

    1. MrXavia

      It makes more sense for them to have a rental fee for batteries, and if they have a decent recycling system, new batteries won't cost that much

  9. Jabberwolf
    FAIL

    Nice idea but doesnt work

    Seriously... it becomes impractical for a station to do this.. and there is no way to track if the battery is older, newer, what's the price if newer, what does the station do with the older...

    Ultimately.. you need to FIND a station that does this and it costs more than charging and that's what you wanted to save money for high prices of gas. You're already paying a much higher cost for the electric car (which already DOES NOT surpass the amount of gas money you'd save)

    1. Boothy
      WTF?

      Re: Nice idea but doesnt work

      erm, tracking is easy, stick an RFID tag on it and link to your customer DB. Tells you when it was build, who owns it, how many miles it's done, what the current max range/charge is, if it's close to needing replacement etc etc. Bear in mind these types of cards do phone home, so send stats back to home base.

      Value will probably be a simple formula based the max charge (ergo range) it can hold and the age.

      I'd also suspect the cars already monitor the batteries for efficiency (i.e. we expect 300 miles range, but only got 280 this time, 270, 260... ...180: Recall notice on dash board "Your battery needs replacing, please make an appointment with your local dealer, or simply call into one of our Swap stations and request to keep the newly exchanged battery." Charge $50 plus the value of your battery deducted from the value of the exchanged battery, here's you bill.

      1. Just My Thoughts

        Re: Nice idea but doesnt work

        Makes perfect sense. The battery already has all the smarts it needs to know who bought it, its condition, and if you prefer ale or lager. I am guessing the car is already tied into the cell system, get it a phone number of its own. Then your smart phone, home computer, or even voice prompt telephone attendent can tell you all you need to know. Including the plate number of every car that has ever shared the battery with you, if your turn signal lamp needs replacement, a picture of the lamp to show the guy in the auto parts store, if you need windshield wiper fluid, your tire pressure, and a picture of the last dog to lift its leg on that tire.

    2. John Smith 19 Gold badge
      Meh

      Re: Nice idea but doesnt work

      "Seriously... it becomes impractical for a station to do this.. and there is no way to track if the battery is older, newer, what's the price if newer, what does the station do with the older..."

      You have no idea what you're talking about.

      This is not a D cell. It's a major subsystem which may or may not have inbuilt electronics ranging from an EPROM that gets up dated with every charge data/duration to its own processor.

      IOW the battery tells the charge station all about itself. Otherwise it will have a bar code or RFID that will pull up its entire known life history and update it accordingly.

      The first option allows more charging station autonomy, the second should give a more detailed service history and prediction of battery life expectancy. Either is viable.

      1. Richard 12 Silver badge

        Re: Nice idea but doesnt work

        All consumer rechargeable lithium batteries have a built-in "fuel gauge" chip to ensure they aren't overcharged.

        It's not much of a leap to add enough Flash to store the entire history of the battery charge/discharge cycles!

        The only ones you'll buy that don't are the hobbyist Li-Po cells for electric R/C aircraft and the like, where they basically will catch fire sooner or later.

  10. Sir Alien

    same old problem

    The same old problem is that everyone is using batteries. Batteries have never been great for convenience and keeping cost down. They are fast to drain and slow to charge.

    Personally I think electric cars are the future and I wouldn't mind having one BUT I don't want a battery powered one when hydrogen fuel cell electrics have the same convenience as your current fuel cars.

  11. moiety

    Changing batteries is "tech" now? Humanity is doomed. And 90 seconds? That's a minute and a half. Yeah OK; the battery pack weighs half a tonne so it's heavy. Milliseconds to check the ports are lined up and adjust for the difference; more milliseconds to look around and check nothing is coming towards the impending operation and let's be nice and call it 10 seconds to remove the old and slam the new battery in place.

    90 seconds might be vaguely acceptable if it was done in a still-moving car and you didn't have to slow down (or had to stay below a certain speed whilst going past the garage); but it's fucking embarrassing if it's a sitting target..

    1. Steve Todd
      Stop

      Unbolting the original unit (weighing 500KG IIRC), lowering it out of the car, moving it to one side, moving the replacement under the car, raising it into place and re-bolting it in place and you think you can do that safely & reliably in 10 seconds? Good luck with that.

      1. moiety

        90 seconds still seems like a mighty long time for machinery dedicated to one single operation.

        1. Tom 20

          Have you seen how long a HP printer can take to spit out it's first page? or power on? or accept a new cartridge?

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            FFS A formula one pit-crew couldn't change an engine in 10 seconds.

            1. JeffyPooh Silver badge
              Pint

              42, of course...

              http://youtu.be/te48ucoEvFI

              (Amateur team of Royal Marines swapping an Escort engine in 70% of one minute.)

        2. Terry 6 Silver badge

          MassXacceration=force

          . Accelerating that mass and moving it at speed and then the reverse operation coming towards your expensive car doesn't sound too clever an idea. So 90 seconds to release and remove one, then move in and secure another seems pretty fast to me.

          1. moiety

            Re: MassXacceration=force

            I do realise that there's a fair amount of inertia to overcome in a battery pack and obviously precautions would have to be taken so if -say- the driver has had his suspension dropped a bit the machine doesn't punch the car though the canopy...so some sort of range-finder might be a valuable addition to the machine. You could build in a deceleration phase so the device is moving relatively slowly as it nears the car.

            90 seconds still seems grindingly slow to me for a dedicated machine for a single -relatively simple- purpose.. Just last night I saw a video of a machine that grabbed blobs of molten glass; blew them into bottles and deposited them (still glowing) onto a conveyor belt. It did this at a rate of 400 bottles per minute. You have other machines that routinely chuck tonnes about. The car the battery pack is for -for example- could move exactly how far in 90 seconds? A fully-loaded HGV could have 40 tonnes the best part of a mile away in the same 90 seconds.

            10 seconds might be optimistic; but it's certainly something to aim for.

            BTW...how a printer does fucking anything is not a fair comparison...

      2. Nigel 11
        Boffin

        The connector is the really big headache

        You've got to design a quick-swap connector that can support very high currents and voltages, and associated environmental shielding for the swappable battery. 150kW implies 150A at 1000V, or 600A at 250V, or something like that.It's got to be safe. It's got to work in an automotive environment, where salty water is being sprayed around it at 80mph. It's got to have consistently low resistance or else the car will go a few miles and cut out with a thermal alert (or just catch fire).

        The lead-acid battery in your car is connected using a spanner and contact jelly, not a plug and socket, for very good reason. The much lower-current hot-swap connector in a single-kilowatt UPS is a weak point. I've seen what happens when it fails. Not pretty. I suspect Boeing's Dreamliner woes were also a failed design iteration of this same problem.

  12. dale r

    Electric vehicles take the lead..............

    It would add context to mention this that crisis and price gouging scheme was made possible by "free market" deregulation. And also to note that the total cost to California is over 50 billion, and that the bankruptcy of Enron meant it only paid 202 million back or about 1-2%. The Enron records were destroyed when Bldg 7 was demolished on 9/11, along with DOD records needed to investigate what happened to the 2.3 trillion Rumsfeld said was missing on 9/10.

    1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
      Meh

      Re: Electric vehicles take the lead..............

      "It would add context to mention this that crisis and price gouging scheme was made possible by "free market" deregulation. And also to note that the total cost to California is over 50 billion, and that the bankruptcy of Enron meant it only paid 202 million back or about 1-2%. The Enron records were destroyed when Bldg 7 was demolished on 9/11, along with DOD records needed to investigate what happened to the 2.3 trillion Rumsfeld said was missing on 9/10."

      And that's your first ever post to this site.

  13. Vernon

    I would assume they are going to be placed for example at each end of a drivable range, eg one on the M4 around Slough, and one at Bristol. So if you are a city user, you can take your electric car out of London, swap to a fully charged battery for the drive to Bristol, if hotels provide charging stations then you can top up overnight. If you then go on to Exeter, perhaps there would be another battery swap station available there, so you could return to Bristol the same day. If you need to cover large distances you can swap out the battery pack. Seems like a good idea and a positive step forward, as charging times are the Achilles heel for electric vehicles.

  14. David Schlinkert

    It continues to amaze me how much hate there is for electric cars in general and Tesla specifically. Does it have something to do with the Model S being a fantastic car that the haters will never be able to afford? I don't live in the city, but I do live in a metropolitan area and even the least expensive battery (250 km) would serve for an entire week of normal driving.

    1. mmeier

      No hate, just a healthy dose of reality

      Having worked with battery powered train engines that use swapable batteries I simply can see the range of problems. Even for a single type of vehicle there is battery aging, environmental effects (heat/cold), how you discharge(speed/load) it that can reduce available capacity faster than planned. And unlike a car that has fuel stations every few kilometers so "loosing" 50km from a tank and/or being able to top of quickly if the last user has forgotten to the net of battery stations and chargers is a lot less developed. Add in the needed storage space that must be a lot more accessible (battery maintenance) than a underground tank and the need to enhance the power distribution network in many places if electric vehicles go "mass market" since city grids are not build with that much reserve capacity on the final leg (1). And in many european countries that means MASSIV work since the cables are underground on that level

      Add in more than one typ of car and it gets even more problematic, We either get the "Einheitswagen" with everybody driving the same(2) or ineffective space use or multiple batteries(3)/batterie types. Options 2 and 3 will increase complexity of the automatic change system OR require trained workers at the "fuel stations" to change the batterie(s). While even weak and small people can operate a modern automated fuel pump and finding the inlet works (most of the time(4))) exchanging a 50+ kg batterie (let alone a 500kg one) needs training and equipment(5)

      The "fuel based" infrastructure is already there, developed over a century and had/have very low initial costs (6) while batterie infrastructure needs a HUGE startup investment from multiple companies (fuel station companie, power companies, cities maybe) to make the ecar useable. IMHO alternate liquid fuels like NGV/CNG using CH4, some of it produced in biogas units and/or through won through Methanisation using water/solar/wind/greenies on exercise bikes is a better alternative since the gas distribution network in many european countries is a lot better developed and the distribution uses "standdart fuel pumps and tank" systems (at least they look like it for the end user)

      (1) Power companies have a good idea how much is needed in a given region and the growth is, at least in europe, planned so the "build to fit". In the past that has resulted in costly/lengthy overhauls, the last in germany in the late 70s/early 80s. That went mostly "unseen" since they combined that with the switch to underground cables in many cases

      (2) That is okay for me if it is build like a Mercedes G or a simlar "blocky, high-seating, preferably 4WD" able to deal with german pothole collection sides (aka german roads below Autobahn or federal highway/Bundesstrasse). Strangly many people prefer sportier cars and do not mind the repair bill / fixup needed after finding a nice deep pothole...

      (3) 2-n instead off 1 big - enhancing change time

      (4) Recently saw a blonde filling a petrol burner with diesel....

      (5) Having prevented in more than one case a booster cable used the wrong way despite the batteries being clearly marked I have serious doubts Joe Average can reliably swap them himself

      (6) Refueling stations can be (and in 3rd world countries often are) a 200l barrel and a hand pump.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        and let's also add...

        ...that these batteries are a fire hazard and need to be stored properly. Hell, the last place I worked had to store their rechargable batteries within temp. and charge guidelines to minimize the risk of a dangerous fire (for a popular ipod portable player - no highs no lows). Storage charge was only allowed to be 80% of max. capacity.

        What is the legal responsibility for damaged/counterfeit batteries?

        How is the price per % of full charge on the battery going to be verified given the different wear rates?

        Given that there is no federal standard on the size/shape, cell capacity, battery mounting nor the connection reuirements, this isn't going anywhere soon. It's going to resemble what happened with memory cards, but probably a slower elimination. Are you going to require the same battery for a large car as you would a throw-a-way?

        While I look forward to more energy efficient vehicles (and coal generated electricity is more efficient and less polluting that gas), there are still the infrastructure and standards that don't exist yet. Let the car companies pay for most of the infrastructure in population dense areas to weed out the problems first and let govt. funded universities play with other fringe concepts.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: and let's also add...

          Ah, and petrol is NOT a fire hazard needing to be stored properly?

          The other "problems" can easily be addressed through regulations and industry standards.

          1. mmeier

            Re: and let's also add...

            Actually it is not much of a fire hazard and save storage is easy. Petrol fumes do not self-ignite and the temperatures needed do not occure normally. And since access to the storage can be limited to the fuel in/outtakes (that can be secured) you can burry the hardened tanks under ground. Stations have burned down but the tanks survived.

            1. Nigel 11
              Mushroom

              Re: and let's also add...

              Actually it [petrol] is not much of a fire hazard and save storage is easy

              Remember Buncefield?

              1. mmeier

                Re: and let's also add...

                Last we where talking fuel stations not tank plants. Different amounts, different type of storage

          2. Excoriator

            Re: and let's also add...

            No. Once underground it is safe.

      2. Excoriator

        The problems are:

        1. It is unreliable. A seized or cross threaded bolt could stop the process halfway through leaving you marooned at the filling station. There are numerous other ways this could happen

        2. You have to recharge more often than you have to fill your tank. At least twice as often and possibly more so depending on what size battery you buy.

        3. It costs about the same as filling your tank for far less range.

        4. Batteries degrade with use. The range is likely to be unpredictable depending on the age of the battery you get.

        5. Recharging the batteries takes time wherever it happens. Although you can recharge in 30 minutes, this reduces the life of the battery. If you recharge over - say 4 hours - and the swap station is doing swaps at the rate of 30 an hour, this implies a stock of 120 batteries undergoing charge at each swap station.

        6. 120 80kWh batteries undergoing charge over four hours adds up to 2.4 Megawatts. Fifty such swap stations consume the full output of a medium sized nuclear power station. Better build more power stations PDQ!

        7. Swapping batteries on stage with everything brand new clean and dry is one thing. Doing it with cars off the street which could be filthy and covered in salt spray in winter is quite another. Charging batteries covers in salty water sounds a recipe for disaster to me.

        8. Battery swapping stations have been tried before in Israel, where they proved to be commercial failures. There is every reason to suppose these will suffer the same fate.

        It doesn't sound at all practical to me. If you are going to have to visit a filling station (you have to on a long trip - the range is far less than a modern diesel for instance) you might as well buy a conventional petrol or diesel car. It is likely to be a lot cheaper and a lot better too.

  15. harddrive

    No mention about how many 'battery swap bays' will be needed, what space they will occupy, and how much will they cost to build. And, crucially, what will it cost the vehicle owners to get a swap. It will be far more involved than just setting up one swap bay for a demonstration. Much more expensive too.

    1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
      Unhappy

      @harddrive

      RTFA.

  16. Grumpy Fellow
    Boffin

    Trip planning will be hard

    Planning any non-trivial trip with the constraints that you have to visit all of your destinations without running out of charge AND also finish up with your original battery pack is an NP-hard problem. I have discovered a truly marvelous proof of this, which this margin is too narrow to contain.

    1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
      Happy

      Re: Trip planning will be hard

      "Planning any non-trivial trip with the constraints that you have to visit all of your destinations without running out of charge AND also finish up with your original battery pack is an NP-hard problem. I have discovered a truly marvelous proof of this, which this margin is too narrow to contain."

      Probably better with the "joke" icon, unless you can prove your assertion.

    2. Terry 6 Silver badge

      Re: Trip planning will be hard

      SatNav. Might need a firmware upgrade.

      Simples.

  17. BornToWin

    Elon is definitely "juiced up"

    This PR nonsense is for the gullible. How many people are going to spend 100K on an electric vehicle they can't use for anything but local city driving when they can buy a clean Diesel for half the price? Do you see any of these quick-charging stations on every route that you would normally desire to travel? Do you plan your travel so that you can stop every few hours to have the battery re-charged or a battery exchanged? Does this really make any sense to anyone except Elon?

    A low cost EV might make sense for the city if you have good public transportation that you don't mind using for long distance travel but for the majority of people EVs are not even an option. It's laughable to think that electricity is free or that Tesla is going to provide free charges or battery exchanges. That's like expecting the oil companies to provide free petrol or diesel fuel. It ain't gonna happen in this lifetime. A diesel is a far more practical device for all commuting over an EV.

    1. mmeier

      Re: Elon is definitely "juiced up"

      And that is THE problem with E-cars. There is no good public transport system in most european regions. As soon as you leave the few big cities or in case of local transport the city center it breaks down. Existing networks are often running at capacity for the long hauling and building more railways gets you a lot of citizens' action committee protesting so it takes a decade or more before you start building.

      The grennie special "take the bike" does not work all that well either if you have customer contact and it rains (1) nor does "live where you work"(2) since just because it is near does not mean it is easy to reach when you need to. Currently my choice is "15min/10km by car" or "30km/two or three changes/may includes a 2km walk" by bus/train.

      (1) Not that "eight wet / sweaty developers" and "open plan office" would smell much better...

      (2) I did most of the time live within the same town where I work, typically within less than 15km - and in no case it took me less than 45min to go that distance by bus/sbahn even during the 6-22h "bus available" time. Two of my jobs had 24/7 operation times...

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    PR crowdturbation

    Hello?

    The real world called, wants its reality back.

    Until they have a mass market, this scheme is doomed.

  19. MachDiamond Silver badge

    Range anxiety

    It's unbelievable that people keep banging on about electric cars not having enough range. Yes, petrol and diesel cars can travel more miles on a tank, but most people are filling up no more than once a week. Yes, there are some people that burn up a tankful everyday, but they are relatively few. Not everybody will be able to fit an electric car into their situation. For those that can, they offer many benefits such as, lower energy costs, resupplying from a plug at home, lower highway fees and exemption from congestion zone charges. If you don't have a carport or garage where you can fit an outlet for charging, they might not work out for you. Maybe your employer will fit a few charging ports. There is usually some government grant program for this sort of thing. As demand goes up, hotels, restaurants and shopping centers will offer free charging to attract customers. Some already do.

    Forget about Hydrogen. Honda's Clarity vehicles have US$2.5million fuel cells. Even with economies of scale and advancements in the technology, the fuel cells will still be much more expensive than Li batteries and sensitive to heavy vibration and shock. Think about getting into minor accident that tweaks your bumper and kills your £10K fuel cell. I'll wager than insurance companies aren't going to write policies to cover that. The other major downside is that there is NO H2 fueling infrastructure and you should also see how Hydrogen is produced (pretty dirty). There is petrol, diesel and electrical infrastructure in place.

    I'm not even dreaming about a $100K Model S. Way too expensive. If I could afford one, I could also afford a Lambo!. Maybe the Lambo would be used, but it would get way more female attention, wink wink, nudge nudge. Unfortunately, I'm way out of town and any other leccy car doesn't have enough range to get me to the city for shopping and back. If I could get a vehicle with 150 miles of range and/or the shopping centers provide charging points I could seriously consider an electric. In the mean time, I have my eye on getting a VW Jetta Wagon (Estate) 2.0 diesel.

    1. mark l 2 Silver badge

      Re: Range anxiety

      You pointed out the major issue with EV not being taken up as a real alternative for a large portion of the population is the lack of charging facilities at home.

      I live in the suburbs of a large UK city but as most of the town was built in the 1900s when there was virtually no cars there are no garages or off street parking where i could charge a EV (sometimes cannot even park outside the house on the road) while only 5 minutes drive up the road there is a petrol filling station.

      Tesla have the right idea with hot swap batteries but i would be better if you didn't have to mess around going back to get your own battery and instead the swapped batteries you just rented based on how many miles of range the battery could do depending on its age this way you would not be paying $50 one week for a battery where you got 500 miles and then the next time you paid $50 and only got 300 miles because the battery was old.

  20. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Unhappy

    Does anyone get the sense of goalposts being moved here?

    "All EV's are f-ugly and I wouldn't be seen dead in one."

    "OK the Roadster is pretty good looking but I can't afford it"

    "OK the S class is affordable but it does not have the range I need for my life"

    "OK the (updated) network of charging stations in the sat nav helps but it will take me hours to charge (for free)"

    "OK so I can change the whole battery faster than some cars can fill up at 1/2 the price but I have to come back here to collect my (recharged) pack for free?"

    I'm hearing a rather whiny note here, but it's not coming from the engine compartment.

    1. Steve 53

      Re: Does anyone get the sense of goalposts being moved here?

      "OK so I can change the whole battery faster than some cars can fill up at 1/2 the price but I have to come back here to collect my (recharged) pack for free?"

      While your statement here is technically correct, how far does the huuuugggeee tank on the audi get you, and how far does a fresh battery pack on an EV get you.

      The price comparison is pure marketing.

      Don't get me wrong, the technology is getting better, and you can make it work as a second car. But all this faffing about with supercharge stations and battery swaps is a marketing bandaid on a fundamental issue.

    2. ecofeco Silver badge
      Holmes

      Re: Does anyone get the sense of goalposts being moved here?

      Yep. But Luddites have always been like that.

  21. Christoph Silver badge
    Holmes

    They had better hope this doesn't get too popular

    "The batteries that are swapped in are just loaners. Each swapping station will stock about 50 batteries, which drivers are expected eventually to return in exchange for their own, original batteries."

    That implies that once they have swapped out their 50 loaner batteries they have to wait for one of them to come back before they can serve their 51st customer.

    At the average supermarket filling station on a reasonably busy day, how long would it take for them to get through 50 customers?

    1. mmeier

      Re: They had better hope this doesn't get too popular

      The two fuel stations I typically use have 6 and 12 fuel pumps for personal cars and during the commuter hours all are in use. So in both cases less than an our before stocks ran dry - not enough for the first delivered to be resonably recharged.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: They had better hope this doesn't get too popular

      "At the average supermarket filling station on a reasonably busy day, how long would it take for them to get through 50 customers?"

      Not that I recall the last time I saw 50 Tesla owners drive up to the local supermarket filling station, but presumably that will take long enough to charge at least some of the 50 other batteries that the previous drivers have swapped out?

      1. Christoph Silver badge

        Re: They had better hope this doesn't get too popular

        Those swapped out batteries are as I understand the story being held for a re-swap to their original owners. So can't be used for other customers. So they can service a maximum of 50 Tesla owners having swap-out batteries at any one time.

        It might work if Tesla owners are extremely rare. As I said in the title, it had better not get too popular. Look at the numbers of cars through a busy filling station, and work out what proportion could be Tesla owners if the maximum is 50.

    3. John Smith 19 Gold badge
      Holmes

      Re: They had better hope this doesn't get too popular

      "That implies that once they have swapped out their 50 loaner batteries they have to wait for one of them to come back before they can serve their 51st customer."

      You are assuming that they will not charge any of the batteries they have swapped out and will simply stock up until re-collected or sent to another station for collection by their owner.

      I don't think that's correct.

      1. Christoph Silver badge

        Re: They had better hope this doesn't get too popular

        "You are assuming that they will not charge any of the batteries they have swapped out and will simply stock up until re-collected or sent to another station for collection by their owner."

        I'm understanding from the story as written by El Reg that they will charge all of the batteries they have swapped out. But that these will then have to be held in stock or sent to another station because they will have to be returned to the original owner.

        If that's wrong, please explain in the context of what the story is stating:

        "The batteries that are swapped in are just loaners. Each swapping station will stock about 50 batteries, which drivers are expected eventually to return in exchange for their own, original batteries. Their batteries will be fully charged, but they'll have to pay for a second swap to get them back."

  22. FuzzyTheBear
    Pint

    The idea is old

    In fact a few years back in El Reg's pages there was a video showing the process of swapping.

    Swapping is a great idea and like another reader from Quebec pointed out ( Hi there ) we do have a lot of power on the grid that's shipped to the USA and a lot of extra capacity on our networks so electric cars are not a problem. In fact Hydro Quebec wil be delighted to have our cars running on electrics and so will we. Hydro is owned by Quebec . Every step taken to get rid of the oil industry and it's pollution is welcome. What i do see as a bit of a problem is that in order to be truly practical and reduce costs we need a standard battery pack or very few models and make all electric cars with a swap mechanism. It's nothing to add to the gas stations along the highways and have battery and quick charge stations. The future IS electric.

  23. Anomalous Cowshed

    Half-baked idea, thought to have been killed off, is resurrected.

    Swapping a battery involves taking away a component of the car that weighs 550 kg? That's a huge proportion of the car that has to be removed and replaced in order to perpetuate the illusion of seamless electric motoring. And on top of that you have to bring back the loan battery and swap it back against your original 550 kg battery pack...How contrived does it get?

    Why don't they simply offer whole cars to borrow at various, reasonably spaced out locations instead of selling them to you for a fortune and trying every trick imaginable to make it seem like a viable proposition afterwards? Do like they used to in the old days: if you needed to ride in a hurry from London to York, or Moscow to Vladimir, or wherever, you would cane your horse and then change horses at inns along the road every n miles once the nag was knackered...You didn't necessarily need to buy and own one of them eco-green horses, and they didn't try to swap out its muscle pack or guts...you could just leave your horse in the stable and borrow another one.

    1. Terry 6 Silver badge
      FAIL

      Re: Half Baked idea: Borrowed cars

      I wanted, a couple of years ago, to try the car club system that existed around where I worked. The idea was that I'd pick up a car when I needed it and so on.

      BUT, on top of the cost of the car there were such Draconian rules about return times and condition, with such significant fines that I would never have dared to drive one, let alone drive in a normal way, in traffic and I certainly couldn't have risked taking a drink or a snack with me,.

      So I carried on taking my own car in with me.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Location, location, location

    Maybe they should start with an island, such as Oahu, where the population is contained in a relatively small space, to work out the bugs. No one is driving a couple hundred miles from the nearest station and it would be easier to track the batteries. You'd also know how many vehicles there were (barring the occassional import, but that shouldn't be a stat-breaker).

  25. JeffyPooh Silver badge
    Pint

    Electric cars are fantastic in every way...

    It's the current battery technology that's not quite ready for Prime Time. It needs at least one more doubling of overall performance, preferably two.

    The other annoying aspect of e-cars are the idiot fanbois (the vast majority of whom couldn't afford a Tesla) that fail to acknowledge the cold hard reality that "The Battery Problem" is a genuine problem. They're simply not being honest with themselves. They should really try to cut back their Kool Aid consumption.

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Most "supercharger" stations will have 4 to 10 bays. So while you can be on your way to 90 seconds, that might not always be the case. Tesla owners can get a new battery for a fee or get a free charge. That charge takes sometime (30 minutes for a range of 200 miles), so there is a possibility of a few issues. For starters, all of the bays are occupied and they are all going for the free charge. So you might be waiting there to get a battery replaced or to get a charge. That 30 minutes is not a full charge, that takes longer. Not the ideal solution when you need to charge the car and all bays are occupied and you can't change the battery either. It is not like a petrol station that you could just drive down the road and hit a different station. Tesla is putting these stations near restaurants, shops, etc. So if someone needs to drop the car off at the recharge station and then walk to their destination (their walk would be farther than parking in the lot of the business) it is doubtful that after 30-minutes or so they will come and move their car so someone else could use that bay. Even Tesla knows this could be an issue:

    http://www.teslamotors.com/supercharger

    1: "What should I do if all Supercharger stalls are occupied when I arrive?

    Check to see if current users have left contact information on their dashboard and give them a call. Most customers charge for 20 to 60 minutes."

    2: "There are people waiting to charge, but I am not done charging; what is charging etiquette?

    We ask our customers to use courtesy while charging. Once your Model S has completed charging, we ask that you move your vehicle to make the spot available for other Model S owners."

    3: "I am Supercharging, but not as quickly as I expected, what could be wrong?

    The Supercharging rate may vary due to battery charge level, current use of the Supercharging station and extreme climate conditions."

    If all bays at a petrol station are in use, you know within a few minutes one will be available; it takes 3 minutes or so right? What happens if there are 4 bays of which all are used and two cars ahead of you? You could be waiting a few minutes, you could be waiting upwards of an hour. You can't go elsewhere and all you can do is wait.

  27. P. Lee Silver badge

    Does the Government really want to help the environment?

    Pop in some tram wires above the roads in the city and let electric cars use them for free.

    If you start in London, someone from the City should be fully charged by the time they hit the M4...

    1. mmeier

      Re: Does the Government really want to help the environment?

      Has been tried. Has quite a few problems and basically only works with busses and (semi)dedicated traffic lanes (google OBus, Solingen)

  28. JimTopbloke

    do the maths..

    all the numbers in this article are near useless, how far will you get for your $50 battery swap compared to the equivalent $50 of gas?

  29. T. F. M. Reader Silver badge

    Why will this succeed where Better Place failed?

    So just as Better Place are folding Elon Musk comes up with exactly the same idea and hopes to make it work? Better Place were smart enough to start from markets like Israel where people do not drive long distances and relatively few battery swap station would suffice. And petrol is expensive in Israel. And there are lots of cars that are leased through one's place of work. And it still does not work. In the US even these advantage disappear. Musk really needs to say what he is going to do differently from Agassi.

    1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
      Meh

      Re: Why will this succeed where Better Place failed?

      "Better Place were smart enough to start from markets like Israel where people do not drive long distances and relatively few battery swap station would suffice."

      People say that.

      Israel is a pretty small country.

      So why would you bother to swap batteries in the first place?

      Whereas the US is known for being large.

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Tesla has missed the plot

    Tesla seems to be coming to grips with the reality that their business model is not viable thus they are using the dupe the public approach to try and hang on a little longer. Their cars are over-priced and impractical yet they continue to try and sell sand to the Arabs. Expect Tesla to fold their tent before much longer as consumers have clearly said no to EVs.

    1. Malmesbury

      Someone has has missed the plot

      Aside from there being a rather long waiting list to buy their cars, and they are increasing production....

      I find it rather interesting that everyone on this thread has not noticed that the Model S was engineered from the start to have a swappable battery. Which was mentioned at the launch of the car....

      1. JeffyPooh Silver badge
        Pint

        Re: Someone has has missed the plot

        "...engineered from the start to have a swappable battery..."

        Well, if the fuel tank in my car was worn out and needed to be replaced every four or five years, then I'd want it to be easy to replace too.

        By the way, how long have you had your Tesla S?

        1. Malmesbury

          Re: Someone has has missed the plot

          NIce try - but, no, I don't own one. Not an early adopter. I know a couple of people who do, though.

          The battery on the Model S was designed to be swappable - not just replaceable - this was mentioned before and during the launch.

          If you want to be able to swap a 1/2 ton in/out of a car by robot, it has to be designed for that. Doing it so that a mechanic can do it it in a couple of hours would be be a completely different problem in engineering terms.

          The data on battery wear from the Roadster is interesting, by the way. Looks like a temperature controlled battery with decent charging control does some quite interesting stuff for battery life. Something on the order of 1.5% per annum degradation, apparently.

  31. This post has been deleted by its author

  32. Beamerboy

    Some people are missing the point

    You'd only change your battery if (1) You were on a long journey, over 250 miles, and didn't want to stop for 30 minutes (2) Oh no that's it any other occasion you'd either Supercharge/Charge or just charge at home/destination.

    For comparison it's like having a car with a petrol guage that doesn't work (I have one of these) and having a 10l petrol tank in the boot for when you misjudge something - not planned to be used but there just in case. And if I'm driving for over 250 miles a stop is probably a good idea to refresh, my fuel tank is bigger than my bladder in any case!

  33. James Hughes 1

    I don't get the naysayers

    So much negativity on anything electric. And yet, I cannot see much of an alternative as petrol becomes increasingly expensive (and rarer). Why do people think what we have now as electric vehicles will be what we have in 5 or 10 years time? Of course, things will get better- range will improve as battery tech improves. The grid will improve to supply the current, power stations will improve to produce the electricity in the first place. There may even be enough improvement in hydrogen generation and storage to make fuel cells useful ( although I think that's going to be harder than making better batteries).

    Musk/Tesla are right at the forefront of new technology, there are going to be mistakes made, but at least they are trying. Most people here seem to want petrol petrol petrol until they need a mortgage to pay to fill the tank. Do people not look further than their own noses? Think ahead people, think ahead.

    I think an electric car would be great for my purposes - even now - I fill up once a week, that's no more or less difficult than sticking the car on charge each evening. At 400 miles per week all commuting, that would be a good option.

    Citation: I like petrol cars, I've built them and raced them, but I seriously believe that we need to move away from the internal combustion engines and go electric in some form.

  34. Excoriator

    You have to store a lot of energy for a car, and the best way is oil (petrol or diesel). Batteries, by comparison are hopeless. They store only about 1% on the energy weight for weight..It is not exactly advertised by the likes of Tesla, but if you want to stay warm on a cold day and turn the heater on, this can have a dramatic impact on your range. In a conventional car it makes no difference.

    Note that the oil need not come from petrochemicals, Oil can be synthesised in many ways from a variety of primary energy sources. One of the most interesting is Joule unlimited which does it from non-potable water, waste CO2, and sunlight..It's worth noting, too, that most of the world's electricity comes from thermal power plants which produce it at the appalling efficiency level of around 30%!

    Its important to distinguish between an ENERGY crisis (which we do not have) and an OIL crisis (which we probably will have) Whether cars are powered by oil of electricity is not at all relevant to to primary energy source.

  35. Excoriator

    Why so much negativity about electric cars? Because they are a totally idiotic idea.

    A conventional car can easily contain a megawatt hour of energy in its tank, with a negligible weight penalty. It can be 'recharged' in a couple of minutes, safely and easily. Battery energy density is about 1% of this, and there is little prospect of it increasing much in the foreseeable future.

    There is a more serious problem though:

    Even if batteries capable of being tucked under the boot and storing a megawatt hour existed, charging them in two minutes would require a power level of 30 MegaWatts, enough to supply a town of some 30,000 inhabitants!. A filling station with ten 'pumps' would consume about a third of the output of a typical power station.

    Want to charge your 1 MWh electric car overnight at home? Fine! You can do it over 8 hours at a power level of 125kW. - thats about 42 3kW electric heaters going full tilt . You'll have to pay the power company to install three-phase power at an appropriate level at home of course, and that will probably cost more than the car. There is also the minor problem that very many city dwellers have no garage and park on the streets, often some distance from their homes anyway.

    I have no idea why the industry is pushing these daft things. They remain deeply unpopular with the car buying public, and no wonder. I find it deeply gratifying that even when the Government is subsidising them to the tune of £5.000 in the UK,. that the the British public are sufficiently intelligent to see through the hype and say a firm NO to them.

    With the existing generation of batteries trying to make a decent electric car is as idiotic a project as an internal combustion powered hearing aid!

    1. James Hughes 1

      @excoriator

      Perhaps, just perhaps, they are pushing them because they know more about it than you do? AFAIK, electric cars are more efficient than petrol at point of use, so you simply do not need 1MWH of power in your battery to get the same range as a petrol car. Half of that would still give you great range. Of course, battery tech isn't that good , so you argument is a bit flakey anyway.

      My house already has 3 phase power (it's not as expensive to install as you make out), and I have a nice driveway to charge the car on. So I'm a ideal customer. I do 80 miles per day, so could easily get in and out of work and charge every night. The only reason I've said no is the cost (bound to decrease), and my Honda Civic that will not die (200k miles so far). They are not yet popular because of the current cost, and range anxiety, not because they are a bad idea. Once the cost drops and the range improves, there seem to be few downsides.

      1. Excoriator

        Re: @excoriator

        Your point about not needing 1MWh is correct. I think modern diesels are about half the efficiency of an electric car so for equivalent range x performance about 500kWh is about right. However I think my point stands even at this rate Our grid was not designed for every house to take a 60kW load for hours overnight. from a significant percentage of the population. The cost of domestic electricity (about £0.12/kWh) would make it an expensive recharge too. Probably not significantly cheaper than diesel. Incidentally, I'm sure a 3-phase supply is not expensive, but a 50 to 100kW charger to convert it to DC certainly would be.

        But there are other downsides too. Battery capacity falls with temperature, so you can expect poorer millage in cold weather. If you don't have a battery swap car, then you are probably going to have to buy a new battery in a few years, and they are not cheap.Also, if you do get it wrong and leave the car uncharged whilst you go on holiday it is likely that the battery will not survive. The cells used do not like being left undischarged for long. Also if the worse DOES happen and you run out of juice I don't see much alternative to a tow-back. You can't easily pour a gallon of electricity into the thing.

        There are 30 million cars on UK roads. Supplying them all with electricity in the quantities needed is simply not on. Lets assume 10% of them draw a 50kW load simultaneously (overnight say) That's 150GW, which is more than twice the total capability of our existing national grid.

        If you do a few simply sums you realise what a crackpot idea it is. I think it's essentially motivated by politicians wanting to do something 'Green' and seeing the grants given to bankrupt motor companies for 'green' technology as more politically acceptable than a hand-out.

        Anyway, I'm pleased that the general public is not as easily fooled as the cheering crowd selected by Mr Musk for his show.

        1. CCCP
          Stop

          Re: @excoriator

          Ok, Ok excoriator. We get you don't like electric cars. But ffs, stop the forum carpet bombing. You are repeating yourself.

  36. shrdlu
    Thumb Down

    Patents

    I hope they aren't going to try to patent this. I came up with the idea years ago and posted it online.

  37. TechGeezer
    FAIL

    Elephant in the Room....

    Still the elephant in the room.... Electricity transmission and now this system added, A BEV car will still contribute more in CO2, from start to finish, than a standard internal combustion engined car.

  38. Excoriator

    Its worth noting that this idea has been tried - extensively - in the past. A hundred years ago they were quite popular because you didn't need to crank them to get them going. The invention of the self-starter destroyed that advantage and a in a straight battle with the internal combustion engine it quickly became apparent that the batteries simply weren't up to the job.

    A hundred years later and here we are. The batteries STILL aren't up to the job!

    I think it is a very telling point that if you look at any conventional car, the battery in it is invariably lead-acid. It is substantially unchanged 150 years after it was invented but is still the cheapest, most rugged, battery around. Forget the much hyped Lithium cells. They don't meet the spec half as well as the old Lead acid battery.

  39. snowweb
    FAIL

    Eco-friendly?

    So this is the "eco-friendly'" future? Where so long as the carbon footprint is removed from the user and done some-place else, you are being a good responsible citizen!

    Why does nobody consider that although the car itself gives off no fumes to speak of, the battery still has to be charged and what is used to charge it? FOSSIL FUELS!

    It's just non-sense. This is just about supporting the multi-billion dollar climate change industry. You read in the article that Tesla were unable to make a profit as a car maker. Where do they make their profits? From the sale of climate credits!

    Climate change is invented as a money making scam. Nothing more than that.

  40. Excoriator

    Ok, Ok excoriator. We get you don't like electric cars. But ffs, stop the forum carpet bombing. You are repeating yourself.

    OK CCCP. It would be nice to see an end to the hype about these things too. Now that most certainly IS repeated time after time after time.

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