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BATTERY CARTRIDGE - This is a Tesla S battery cartridge on a production bench or workstation.
WHAT IS IT?
Quite simply, a battery swapping station is a place that an electric car can drive over and an automatic (or possibly even manual) system can open up the bottom of the electric car, remove the depleted battery, and insert a newly fully charged battery in its place. Picture it as robot mechanics giving an electric car a fresh battery.
GIGAOM - JUNE 21 2013
Some electric car makers and tech companies want this option because it is the only super-fast way that an electric car can be charged and thus compete with gasoline cars. To implement this technology the car itself has to be designed to be able to be opened up with a chamber on the bottom, and by swiftly taking off the bolts underneath the car. Tesla CEO Elon Musk said during the launch event that Tesla is using the same machines that it uses in the factory for its swapping stations to swiftly torque the bolts on the underside of the car.
Fast charging stations like the ones that Tesla is deploying can charge an electric car in around 30 minutes, which is obviously considerably longer than it would take to pump gas. A regular electric car charger can take 8 or even 12 hours to fully charge. The range that currently available electric cars can provide is between 100 to 300 miles (at max) — if the range ever gets substantially larger, the constraints on charging become less of a problem, and battery swapping becomes less important.
Why does Tesla want to do battery swapping now?
Tesla has decided now is the time to unveil its battery swapping plans. What Tesla has going for it is a super hot car that’s become a symbol of luxury for the progressive, liberal, wealthy elite. What Tesla has against it is the nascent stage of the electric vehicle industry and the lack of electric vehicle infrastructure out there. Range anxiety is a very real thing when there’s only a small amount of chargers out there and most of those chargers take a long time to charge the battery.
The big question I have is how will Tesla implement battery swapping when most of its customers own their entire car, including the battery, outright. Battery swapping sounded like a good idea for Better Place, because Better Place was offering electricity and battery charging as a service and owned the batteries. If a company owns the battery first, the customer probably won’t care if the battery is swapped in and out (older batteries have considerably less value than newer batteries). Perhaps that’s why Tesla wanted to launch the battery swap service soon after its first wave of Model S have been delivered (the oldest Model S cars and accompanying batteries are only a year old), and not later on after the cars have aged more.
At the same time, Tesla expects that it’ll have a good deal of leases, which it recently launched, for the Model S. Musk has said that in 2014 he expects “leasing will be a big factor” in the U.S., and will be a moderate part of revenue in 2013 in Europe.
What are the hurdles for battery swapping?
For Better Place the hurdles to implementing
battery swapping infrastructure lay in convincing auto makers to enable their car batteries to be swapped out. Better Place only offered one lackluster car from Renault when it launched in Israel.
The bigger hurdle for Tesla is implementing the battery swapping service so that customers like it and so that it adds value financially for both Tesla and the customer. Because electric cars are at an early stage, the financing — and depreciation of the batteries — isn’t necessarily a known quantity yet. Tesla’s other hurdle is also just maintaining its the sexiness of its cars and brands since you need to have an in-demand product and a growing mass of customers if you’re going to build out a proprietary next work like this. By Katie Fehrenbacher
TESLA HAS RALLIED 'TOO FAR TOO
FAST - The company lost an adjusted $2.38 per diluted share as revenue rose 25 percent year-over-year to $1.84 billion. Deliveries were up 35 percent versus a year ago to 4,799 vehicles. The unaudited results were better than analysts were expecting, sending shares soaring.
Looking ahead, Nio expects to deliver more than 8,000 units in the fourth quarter, up 66.7 percent from the prior quarter.
Aside from the unexpected third-quarter profit from Tesla, it has been a difficult year for electric-vehicle makers. In October, the vacuum-maker Dyson killed its $3.1 billion electric-car project, saying it was not “commercially viable,” and Harley-Davidson had to idle production of its electric motorcycle due to battery problems.
California: Tesla Battery Swapping Stations
Tesla experimented with battery swapping technology stations in early 2013. A pilot invitation to 200 EV owners, only attracted four customers who attended the tests.
Tesla setup a Battery Swapping Station at a custom-built facility at Harris Ranch in Coalinga, California where they swapped out batteries in about 90 seconds.
The system accommodated Model S Owners driving between Los Angeles and San Francisco. Drivers initially had to make an appointment to use the facility.
Tesla concluded that motorists didn’t care about pack swap and the availability of free superchargers right across the street made it more difficult.
According to Musk, “It is unlikely to be worthy until and unless something changes or proper awareness is being provided among people."
EUROPEAN AUTO MANUFACTURERS:
BETTER PLACE - Better, it might have been, but future proofed enough for a developing market, it was not. This early battery cartridge exchange station from Better Place, was a stepping stone in the evolution of the electric vehicle. We should not undervalue the efforts of those brave engineers who took a chance and failed. Because with each failure we know to look elsewhere for a solution. The epitome of perseverance in the face of adversity is Thomas Edison, when developing the incandescent light bulb.
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PIC No: 895922168
HYDROGEN FUEL CELL CARTRIDGE - It looks like a battery cartridge. It performs like a battery cartridge. It stores energy like a battery cartridge, but it is a hydrogen fuel store and fuel cell cartridge combination. Where lithium and cobalt raw materials may limit the production numbers of EVs as green motoring becomes the norm, hydrogen in a safe format might offer unlimited possibilities. The concept is compatible with SMARTNET FASTCHARGE service stations. NOTE: This is just a concept, not a product yet. More development is needed before mass production could be entertained.
Along the way, there will be many failures before success stories. The failures show the next champion what not to do, and hope springs eternal, until market acceptance is almost inevitable in the face of necessity and the deliverance of a formula that fits well with a majority of manufacturers.
History shows us that in the world of invention, it takes many individuals all thinking as a collective human brain to finally perfect technology. The light bulb and Thomas Edison is an example of the kind of determination it takes to drive an idea until it becomes a product.
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