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The Electric Car Solution

idea from TWIN TURBO

In an effort to develop the ideal all electric vehicle that would not be limited by weight, occupancy, or trip distance the best solution may be the standardized interchangeable battery pack.

This standardized battery module would be available at service stations, just like a tank of gasoline. No waiting -exchange, pay, and go.

To participate in the battery exchange program each auto owner would pay a deposit reflecting the entire cost of the battery. When your vehicle requires a recharged battery the service station would test the integrity of your return and assuming you have not physically harmed or altered your trade-in, you are only paying a cost for the recharging service. Recharging can be most efficiently done with many batteries at one time and drawing current during off-peak hours.

The initial cost, the maintenance cost, and the operating cost of a simple electric car, without a gas driven generator or sophisticated hybrid system would be much less than even a conventional gasoline powered auto.

We would not be limited to a small 2 seat sports car like the Telsa. If battery exchange only takes minutes a range less than 200 miles is acceptable for larger vehicles.

We could convert to less expensive all electric vehicles without any compromise to the convenience or model options we now have with traditional gasoline powered cars.

I have seen people damage their cars and themselves simply changing the batterys automobiles currently use,I can only imagine what will happen at this type of “battery replacement station” you are underestimating the risk and the skills required to do as you plan.


While Detroit Slept


As I think about our bailing out Detroit, I can’t help but reflect on what, in my view, is the most important rule of business in today’s integrated and digitized global market, where knowledge and innovation tools are so widely distributed. It’s this: Whatever can be done, will be done. The only question is will it be done by you or to you. Just don’t think it won’t be done. If you have an idea in Detroit or Tennessee, promise me that you’ll pursue it, because someone in Denmark or Tel Aviv will do so a second later.
Why do I bring this up? Because someone in the mobility business in Denmark and Tel Aviv is already developing a real-world alternative to Detroit’s business model. I don’t know if this alternative to gasoline-powered cars will work, but I do know that it can be done ? and Detroit isn’t doing it. And therefore it will be done, and eventually, I bet, it will be done profitably.
And when it is, our bailout of Detroit will be remembered as the equivalent of pouring billions of dollars of taxpayer money into the mail-order-catalogue business on the eve of the birth of eBay. It will be remembered as pouring billions of dollars into the CD music business on the eve of the birth of the iPod and iTunes. It will be remembered as pouring billions of dollars into a book-store chain on the eve of the birth of and the Kindle. It will be remembered as pouring billions of dollars into improving typewriters on the eve of the birth of the PC and the Internet.
What business model am I talking about? It is Shai Agassi’s electric car network company, called Better Place. Just last week, the company, based in Palo Alto, Calif., announced a partnership with the state of Hawaii to road test its business plan there after already inking similar deals with Israel, Australia, the San Francisco Bay area and, yes, Denmark.
The Better Place electric car charging system involves generating electrons from as much renewable energy ? such as wind and solar ? as possible and then feeding those clean electrons into a national electric car charging infrastructure. This consists of electricity charging spots with plug-in outlets ? the first pilots were opened in Israel this week ? plus battery-exchange stations all over the respective country. The whole system is then coordinated by a service control center that integrates and does the billing.
Under the Better Place model, consumers can either buy or lease an electric car from the French automaker Renault or Japanese companies like Nissan (General Motors snubbed Agassi) and then buy miles on their electric car batteries from Better Place the way you now buy an Apple cellphone and the minutes from AT&T. That way Better Place, or any car company that partners with it, benefits from each mile you drive. G.M. sells cars. Better Place is selling mobility miles.
The first Renault and Nissan electric cars are scheduled to hit Denmark and Israel in 2011, when the whole system should be up and running. On Tuesday, Japan’s Ministry of Environment invited Better Place to join the first government-led electric car project along with Honda, Mitsubishi and Subaru. Better Place was the only foreign company invited to participate, working with Japan’s leading auto companies, to build a battery swap station for electric cars in Yokohama, the Detroit of Japan.
What I find exciting about Better Place is that it is building a car company off the new industrial platform of the 21st century, not the one from the 20th ? the exact same way that Steve Jobs did to overturn the music business. What did Apple understand first? One, that today’s technology platform would allow anyone with a computer to record music. Two, that the Internet and MP3 players would allow anyone to transfer music in digital form to anyone else. You wouldn’t need CDs or record companies anymore. Apple simply took all those innovations and integrated them into a single music-generating, purchasing and listening system that completely disrupted the music business.
What Agassi, the founder of Better Place, is saying is that there is a new way to generate mobility, not just music, using the same platform. It just takes the right kind of auto battery ? the iPod in this story ? and the right kind of national plug-in network ? the iTunes store ? to make the business model work for electric cars at six cents a mile. The average American is paying today around 12 cents a mile for gasoline transportation, which also adds to global warming and strengthens petro-dictators.
Do not expect this innovation to come out of Detroit. Remember, in 1908, the Ford Model-T got better mileage ? 25 miles per gallon ? than many Ford, G.M. and Chrysler models made in 2008. But don’t be surprised when it comes out of somewhere else. It can be done. It will be done. If we miss the chance to win the race for Car 2.0 because we keep mindlessly bailing out Car 1.0, there will be no one to blame more than Detroit’s new shareholders: we the taxpayers.

Friedman is one of the most opinionated and ignorant columnists to receive wide distribution. This story is another example of ‘look at what somebody says they can/will do, and how stupid Detroit is’. Believe it when you see it. Doesn’t doing something in Denmark and Israel (two tiny countries) sound just a little different that doing it in the US?

Also the obligatory/nonsensical ‘Remember, in 1908, the Ford Model-T got better mileage ? 25 miles per gallon ? than many Ford, G.M. and Chrysler models made in 2008.’ makes my skin crawl. How many folks would want to have a Model T today? And why are Ford, GM, and Chrysler mentioned, but not every other maker who also sells millions of cars that don’t get 25 mpgs? What drivel!

For this battery exchange on any vehicle…who’s going to operate the fork lift truck to safely make the exchange at two in the morning when grandmother is driving in a snow storm to the kids for Christmas dinner.

Secondly, and I apologize ahead for this continual rant but…the electric motor is the ultimate motor for transportation with 90% efficiency compared to under 20% FOR THE IC. THAT’S WHY IT’S STILL cheaper when using electricity from oil and coal fired plants.

But, no one wants to debate that even if we did have a “functional” battery, which we presently do I believe, what it would do to the economy, to sell a car that needs NO motor, transmission (it has none) or brake maintenance for an entire generation of usage. Everything else can be done at Walmart/K mart etc.
As well, manufactured more cheaply by electronics firms in China , still with GM logos…
The auto industry (and the near 40%-50% of the rest of our economy) which makes most of their profits on parts, service and high automobile turnover rates will suffer even more.

The electric motor will take over…it just has to be done in a slow, orderly fashion with the demise of the auto company as we know it happening. We just have to debate about the pace with re-education in mind.

Remember you fellow speed freaks, few ICs accelerate faster at the drags than a motor that powers everything from clocks, to refrigerators, to well pumps to drive motors on almost ALL nuclear powered vessels. It will happen !

Last week when I replied to the gentelman that wanted to buy and store a Honda for 15yrs that I believed rules and regulation would be a obstacle,most responded about how the car would degrade and how it would be better to put the money in the bank (or under the mattress)This is what I had in mind,is the IC done for as a personal transportation device powerplant? The valid point was made that there is still plenty of oil.

I agree that EVs (maybe) and PHEVs (certainly) will form an ever-growing part of the car pool. It won’t happen overnight, as you note, and it won’t be easy. Just check out Tesla. The “Golden Boy” company that was going to show Detroit how it’s done has faced numerous delays, redesigns, and cost increases for a vehicle that meets the needs of a tiny fraction of a percent of drivers. Now, they’re asking the US Govt. (us) for a $350 million loan guarantee, otherwise the four-door sedan that actual people might want will be greatly delayed.

There are always those that immediately exclaim “It can’t be done!” long before they’ve had a chance to fully analyze the situation.

In your analogy, the current battery is not designed to be replaced often. If it was, there wouldn’t be body struts bolted over the top of them and they would have contacts, not terminal posts.

Why does the battery have to constructed as one, homogenous part? It could just as easily be made up of several, smaller packs that simply slide into a receiver slot with some latching mechanism.

I hate the term but think out of the box man!

How would you deal with the fact that some battery packs would be brand new and some would be at the end of their life span? Personally, if my battery pack was nearing the end of its life, I might be tempted to trade it for one at a gas station rather than pay the full price of replacing it.

I think there are already pretty good solutions in the works. One is an onboard generator to recharge the batteries as you drive. I am not sure why, but running a generator seems to be more efficient than running directly on an internal combustion engine. Since most trips are short, the generator would not be used most of the time. The other good option would be a rapid charger, which isn’t too far fetched. The average fuel stop takes five to ten minutes anyway. If you could recharge your car’s batteries in that time, your battery packs might not be unnecessary.

Right…Too many problems…the compressed air car is looking better.

"I am not sure why, but running a generator seems to be more efficient than running directly on an internal combustion engine. "

Only with parallel hybrids…series don’t seem to offer much better economy than a good IC. The difference is still a battery you can charge overnight to extend the series.

That said, series offer lots of other advantages (durability,longevity) over any standard IC drive with a tranny.

Look at the diesel electric locomotive…a series hybrid made and developed many years ago, just to get rid of a huge tranny needed to deal with a diesel hauling 100+ train cars.

Volvo is about to offer (couple of years) a series hybrid with 4 hub motors…imagine the control and awesome acceleration. When that stuff comes on line…speed freaks will eat them up.

Sorry. Too much to read. What did he say?

How would you deal with the fact that some battery packs would be brand new and some would be at the end of their life span?

Easy. The car is sold with the option; you can buy your own battery pack and be responsible for maintaining it OR you can enter into an agreement with a pack provider where you only rent the pack. This exchange program charges slightly more than the cost of the recharging to cover their costs. A deposit would be required to insure you don’t make off with their pack. It’s the same philosophy used in a number of businesses already, the most familiar to most being the propane tank example. For welding gases, I chose to purchase my own tanks. Now I am responsible for all the maintenance associated with those tanks. Some people choose to rent tanks. They pay slightly more than I do for refilling and rental but they do not have to worry about replacing a tank if it fails the periodic testing.

Still…having an on board charging unit (ic generator), is the only way to relieve people of the fear of being stranded. EVs for long distance transportation will only become viable when the public feels their recharging options are equal to those of an IC with all the gas stations.

I agree, and we are decades away from that. It will take at least 2 more generations of batteries until we get to a reasonable range. The Lithium ion batteries that will power the Volt aren’t even available in production quantities yet. If you figure that each generation doubles the range, we won’t get to 160 miles until 2 generations after the Li-ion units and won’t get to something like today’s gas car range of 320 miles for 3 generations. Maybe between 2030 and 2050 we might get cars that don’t generally need to be recharged during operation.

Batteries has got to go. Each time you store and obtain energy from them, they create wasted heat, energy that doesn’t power the vehicle. And their production causes major environmental damage.

Ultra-capacitor is the way to go. They store a lot more energy for their weight compared to batteries and there’s no energy conversion at all. Given a high enough voltage, they can be fully charged in about 10 minutes. And a capacitor last virtually forever, so they don’t cause nearly as much environmental impact as they don’t need to be exchanged. They just were used 100 yrs ago because there was no solid state electronics to control them.

This is not Back to the Future mythical flux capacitor technology; google “capabus”. China is playing with buses running on capacitors.

“Ultra-capacitor is the way to go. They store a lot more energy for their weight compared to batteries and there’s no energy conversion at all. Given a high enough voltage, they can be fully charged in about 10 minutes.”

Good point…
Have read about them in the past, but have not kept up to date…it seems the logical choice in series hybrid application, where just short term high load discharge is what may be needed.
I still believe that battery technology is much more advanced than we are led to believe. The NiHM batteries still in use by 8 year old RAV4 EV is a testimony to that. The GM version had problems…the Panasonic version did not.
Jay Leno’s 90 year old EV gets 100 miles per charge on lead acid that are owner seviceable …on original batteries. Car only goes 25 mph…but 90 years of research could have been very productive had we done it with that old tech. IMO.

“They store a lot more energy for their weight compared to batteries”

No, they don’t. If that were true they would be in wide use. The humble lead-acid battery holds about 10X as much energy per unit weight as the Maxwell super cap.

I’ve been saying the same thing since 1970. Electric cars with exchangeable battery pacts is the best solution for the times. There is a patent on this concept. There is an animation of it. Go to It looks very feasible. The only problem I see, is that it would take a big infrastructure investment. However, initially you would probably only need charging stations near the highways since city commuters could plug to recharge at home or work.

The new EEStor ultracapacitor design seems to be a great advance over the previous efforts, due to a extremely thin insulator allowing huge numbers of layers. More layers = more capacitance and greater energy storage.

If it really works as advertised, batteries for cars become irrelevant, and plug-in cars will become reasonably priced and quick to recharge.