If you ask Better Place founder and CEO Shai Agassi, the future of electric vehicles is closely tied to the network of battery swapping stations Better Place is proposing to cities and countries throughout the world.
The concept being used by Better Place is simple: Create nationwide networks of battery swapping stations where drivers can simply pull in and have their current battery replaced with one that’s fully charged; all within a short 40-60 seconds. Agassi states that the stations, which resemble car washes, cost $500,000 to build. However he believes the financial and environmental benefits that would come from this project would be immeasurable. Better Place has already installed its first battery swap station in Yokohama, Japan; as wells as received commitments from Israel, Denmark, Australia, Hawai’i and many other countries and cities throughout the world.
As is the case with any proposal that goes ‘outside the box’, the Better Place battery swapping stations has it’s skeptics. At the recent Fortune Brainstorm Green conference, Bill Reinert, the National Manager for Toyota Motor Sales’ Advanced Technology Vehicle Group, pointed out two possible barriers to battery swapping. Reinert said that an electric vehicle battery pack needs to be weather-tight to keep water out, and that the battery pack seals are not traditionally designed to be taken on and off all the time like they would supposedly need to for a swap station. In addition, Reinert said that cooling and heating batteries in the swapping system could prove difficult. Sue Cischke of Ford Motor Co. also voiced her concern that if a customer has a bad experience with the battery exchange, they’ll blame Ford, not necessarily Better Place.
For Shai Agassi, the critics have had no effect; his determination to bring about the world’s largest and most potentially beneficial infrastructure project is as strong as ever. Still, the question remains: Will Agassi’s monumental idea truly make the world a “Better Place”?
Category: Battery News