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Does anyone think battery swap out is useful or even needed for electric vehicles?

By Joe Romm on February 2, 2009 at 6:53 pm

"Does anyone think battery swap out is useful or even needed for electric vehicles?"

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The Washington Post ran a very good article on electric vehicles (EVs) Saturday. I recommend it to anyone who wants an overview of the important issue of where American companies will source their batteries. The article notes:

GM plans on a battery pack big enough to last 40 miles, at which point a small gasoline engine will take over. Some rival companies are considering a smaller battery pack that might go only 20 miles, still enough to serve the needs of many local commuters without adding as much weight and cost.

That was my point in the post, “Has GM overdesigned the Volt: Is a 40-mile all electric range too much?

Like pretty much all recent articles on EVs, it highlighted the uber-marketers of the EV world:

Shai Agassi, the chief executive of Better Place, which is building electric car infrastructure in Israel, Hawaii, Northern California and several other places, thinks electric cars should have batteries only. He proposes setting up swap stations where motorists on long trips could exchange a depleted battery for one fully charged.

“We just don’t think that the answer to how to extend the battery is to put a power plant in our trunks,” he said.

You can see a computer simulation of the Project Better Place battery exchange station here.

I recently asked my EV wonk friends what they thought of the battery swap out model, and I will reprint some of their answers below. I have never actually found anyone who thought it was a viable idea. Where, for instance, would it be done? Sunday’s NY Times asserts:

For longer trips, beyond 100 miles, there would be battery-exchange sites — probably located at bays in today’s gas stations.

Sorry. At least in this country, gas stations are very prime property. They don’t have any excess space for what would be a relatively little-used piece of capital, an automated battery swap out station. That’s why in pretty much every city gas stations are shutting down little-used garages and bays and putting in mini-marts.

Before it went belly up, Plenty magazine’s blog raised a couple of issues:

• wait, uh, battery swaps? What quality controls will be in place to make sure the battery that’s getting plopped into your car is in great condition and just as good as the one you got from the manufacturer and are now giving up? And imagine how many batteries would have to be in stock at each charging station to make sure that any driver will be able to drive off ready and charged. Sounds pricey.

• Doesn’t it all sound like a bit of a hassle? The project is an attempt to remedy an imperfect system. It can’t help but feel inelegant. Is the battery swap system superior to replacing every conventional vehicle in Hawaii with a plug-in hybrid? Plug-ins offer many of the same advantages without the massive infrastructure investment or the strange treatment of batteries as if they were luggage carts. For now, only two vehicles, made by Better Place partners Renault and Nissan, are expected to be compatible with the swapping stations, at least until other carmakers get on board. My bet is that it’ll take some convincing before several more EV makers agree to standardize their battery placement and vehicle designs for the sake of an unproven technology.

Here are some more critiques:

Greg Hanssen, co-founder of EDrive Systems, commmercializing Lithium-Ion conversions of PRIUS. Also co-founder, EnergyCS, engineer with long experience in hybrid, electric power systems, and co-chair of Production EV Drivers Coalition

Personally, I think the battery swap idea is really dumb.

It’s people who don’t have any experience with electric vehicles that come up with ideas like this and hyper fast charging, which is also relatively unpractical as it’ll never be as fast as liquid refuel and will be expensive and hard on the batteries.

As for battery swapping, check how this was done with EVs in the early 1900s. Edison’s fleet of electric trucks had central stations where batteries were charged and swapped… Check out the book “The Electric Vehicle and Burden of History”

If fast refueling is your goal, then PHEVs are still the best option. Use the battery for what it’s good for — daily driving needs that can be filled with overnight charging.

For longer distances or fast refueling, liquid is still the way to go.

Long-time EV expert

Actually, our experience w the last generation of EVs (some of which remain on the road) taught us that unlike propane tanks, drivers very much feel personal ownership of their batteries, and would definitely have issues like the one described in the first point [made by Plenty]. You’re right that in the PBP model the customer doesn’t own the batteries, but the attachment has less to do with ownership and more to do with care and feeding — many drivers charge and drive their vehicles very specifically in order to maximize range, preserve life, etc. — and they become used to the specific performance of their pack. It’s exacerbated by the fact that there can actually be a fair amount of variation in quality of the pack before it falls out of manufacturer spec and would be replaced. Since this tends to manifest itself as range variation, it’s very possible a customer might swap a pack that does 100 miles and get one that only goes 80 or 90, or worse, has a bad module that causes the car to go into reduced performance or something. The people who do only average driving won’t really notice this, but the average drivers likely won’t be the ones depending on swapping stations. It may be that the early adopters are more attached to their packs than mass market customers will be, but the early adopters will last 2-3 years or more at currently expected rates of production, and their experiences will be the ones that set up the next folks’ expectations.

An engineer and utility EV expert

That is a solution for a problem that does not exist.

The concept of a third party owning the battery is a nice one. Has been for years, but no one will step up and do it (or, in reality it has not been economically feasible). However, the idea of having battery changing stations as a sort of “fuel” station is a particularly bad one. For one, it assumes that there is not possibly enough energy in the battery of the car to accommodate the driving needs of the owner. Statistics show that this is false for the vast majority (see National Travel Survey). People somehow always think they need to drive farther than they actually do.

Cars are parked 96% of the time. They can charge.

Battery changing is a messy, mechanically complicated, labor intensive process. That is why the industrial community has been moving away from this for years. Instead, they move toward fast charging, and even fuel cell power.

And, by the way, the first objection is not irrelevant. What if you got your battery swapped out expecting 100 miles of range to get to the next station, and it turned out to be a dud? Maintaining pack quality would be one of the major concerns with such an operation.

So, in conclusion, most people don’t need to swap batteries. There is plenty of range on board. For longer trips, you can either rent a gas car, or you could take advantage of a few fast charging stations that could be placed strategically on major long-distance thoroughfares. Or, of course, you could also choose to own a PHEV like the Chevy Volt, in which your engine is only used in extraordinary circumstances.

California official and alt fuel expert

1) Entropy matters. The energy used in bulk transport, bulk storage, and on-site logistics would be HUGE.

2) Volumetric specific density matters. The space requirements for bulk transport, bulk storage, and on-site logistics would be HUGE.

3) Gravimetric specific density matters. The weight penalties incurred in bulk transport, bulk storage, and on-site logistics would be HUGE.

4) Costs matter. The incremental costs of associated with 1, 2 + 3 above would be HUGE.

5) Competitiveness matters. The cost effectiveness of their technology needs to be compared to a post-2010 hybrid configuration using li ion or li polymer battery technology, achieving > 50 mpg, gasoline prices in the $2 — 6 range, with resulting paybacks on incremental investments of <$5,000 – $8,000 of between 5 and 12 years. The proposed technology would have (a) MUCH higher incremental costs to amortize 1 + 2 + 3 above, (b) have gge fuel economy no more than 2x higher than a benchmark hybrid, (c) resulting payback well in excess of 15 years or (d) require gasoline costs well north of $7 per gallon to achieve payback in 10 — 12 years.

6) This has less scrutiny than the Madoff Ponzi scheme at its half-life. Any serious sunshine brought on this “pathway” will show the following:

a. How desperate we still are for a Holy Grail solution, given the pragmatic realities of lithium battery costs and gravimetric / volumetric density tradeoffs.

b. How easy it is to foster web-germinated confusion on untested technologies

c. How hard it is in reality to configure, demonstrate, manufacture in bulk, and survive with a viable business for advanced alt fuel technologies.

d. How important it is to let the facts set us free from the curse of speculation.

e. How important OEMs are, despite all their imperfections.

7) This is already at its half life. When 1% greater scrutiny is applied to this “business model” and technology, it will wilt faster than California’s bond rating.

8) In other words, it fails due to its inability to create the following:

a. Credible industrial policy to establish a viable, large scale advanced battery manufacturing capability in North America (Asian OEMs produce >90% of lithium ion batteries today…)

b. Credible gasoline tax policy which establishes a consistent and clear price signal on carbon sufficient to allow alt fuel vehicle purchasers to face high degrees of certainty on payback of initial investments in either vehicle capital cost, infrastructure capital cost, or both.

c. Credible optimization via OEM expertise — especially hybridization optimization.

d. Credible infrastructure burden cost sharing to escape the 1st 10 years of the “Valley of Death” period during which alternatives fail due to slow broad market acceptance.

Yes, the chicken and egg problem remains a huge one for specialized infrastructure like battery-swap out equipment. Who is going to cover the high capital costs in the beginning for widescale deployment of equipment that is little used? But who would buy the vehicles until the swapout system is in place?

More critiques can be found elsewhere on the web: Green Smoke and Mirrors: A Voice of Reason On Israel’s Electric Car Hype and A Reader Responds to Project Better Place Getting Wired.

For large countries in particular, I think plug-ins make the most sense for the foreseeable future.

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20 Responses to Does anyone think battery swap out is useful or even needed for electric vehicles?

  1. Dana says:

    I agree that it’s a totally impractical idea.

    The biggest problem is probably that there’s no uniformity among EV battery types/sizes. You’ve got various different chemistries of lithium ion, nickel metal hydride, lead acid, and potentially ultracapacitors.

    For battery swapping to be practical, you would need battery uniformity, which would really kill new battery ingenuity. For example, if you make battery swapping uniform with some sort of lithium ion battery and then there’s a breakthrough with some sort of ultracapacitor battery technology (i.e. EEStor), what happens then? And how do you get EV companies to agree on a single battery technology to begin with.

    Better Place is also working on projects involving public charging stations – that’s a much better use of their time and resources.

  2. darth says:

    What about using fuel cells for power instead of batteries? Then you can just fill up with hydrogen (or swap a tank like we do with propane)

    Of course we don’t have a source for H2 – or do we? Cant we take some of that extra wind power and use electrolysis to make it? What are the efficiency losses of using H2 as a storage medium as opposed to batteries? What is the energy density? I assume someone has made these calculations but where can I find them?

    I am also assuming that convert H2 to energy in a fuel cell is way more efficient than burning it in an internal combustion engine.

  3. John Hollenberg says:

    Darth,

    You can read Joe’s book “The Hype about Hydrogen” to find out what a bad idea hydrogen is as an energy carrier:

    http://www.amazon.com/Hype-About-Hydrogen-Fiction-Climate/dp/1559637048/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1233622719&sr=8-1

    Also, I am sure there are a number of posts on Climate Progress from Joe–just do a search.

  4. John Hollenberg says:

    OK, here is the link:

    http://climateprogress.org/2008/09/12/the-car-of-the-perpetual-future-the-economist-agrees-with-climate-progress-on-hydrogen/

    You can also read the links at the end of the article to get plenty of background on why hydrogen fuel cells (for cars, anyway) are a dead end.

  5. hapa says:

    “96% parked” is not that helpful a stat. i think it’s more useful to think about “who needs their own extended-range car?”

    1) commercial and public sector fleets
    2) taxis
    3) highly mobile, point-to-point-to-point people (sales staff, service staff, reporters(!!!), deliveries, etc)
    4) people who live in the long-haul sticks
    5) people who are “on call”
    6) and so on

    i figured battery swaps would require standard battery designs and groupings — a good idea to speed vehicle development, i think — and battery leasing and a lot of closed-system application first.

    renting a volt-like charging system to hook to your BEV for longer trips may also turn out practical. why carry around gas at all?

    i figured battery swaps would be most likely, outside warehouses and dockyards etc, for taxis and and other fleets. we’re sort of past due for building purpose-built taxis and cop cars. as part of that design, swappable batteries might be useful for professional vehicles operating in fairly dense areas.

    this whole discussion suffers from over-generality of the “when” and “why” and “in what context” issues. personal car ownership is the main supporting structure of our real estate speculation–driven economy. what comes next, we’re deciding.

  6. Wow, here is some sound technical judgment. I thought I was alone in ranting about the — !!not better!!–, Project Better Place. The craziest part was that they brought Israel into this deal, but Israel is a high user of coal to make its electricity. Greenpeace has actively campaigned against the coal plants there. It will be maybe harder for Israel than any country to displace the coal facilities sufficiently that electric cars will not be coal driven. And then they go on to Hawaii and California? I do not know about Hawaii, but in California we like to think we lead the country in CO2 reduction, but our system would completely fall apart if the rest of the country tried to ban coal like we did. The actual result of California leadership has been that more coal was burned elsewhere such that natural gas prices did not balloon out of control.

    But oops, there is a general problem with electricity as a carrier of energy. How can someone say “entropy matters” and not realize the inefficiencies of electric power generation in central power plants due to the second law of thermodynamics?

    Electric energy can be very important in construction of an efficient system, but it only carries power from one place to another, and the efficiency is mostly determined by the source efficiency and the load demand of the using system. In short, simply adding batteries to a car, whether it is efficient or not, does not get much accomplished. When PV solar or concentrated solar get economically viable on their own, and these are implenented on a scale that displaces coal and still keeps reserve capacity, then the plug-in will make sense.

    Until then the better place actions would be to dramatically reduce the usage of energy.

  7. Josh P. says:

    1) Actually, I don’t see how plug-ins can get to mass penetration without separating car/battery ownership. The people who drive the most miles don’t buy new cars – they buy beat-up used cars. How can they be expected to buy car plus battery? And putting range extension in the car rather than in the infrastructure is far more expensive.

    2) Who is going to buy car and battery if they know a better battery is coming along in three years — and a better battery will always be coming along in three years.

    3) Battery exchange plus operator allows the operator to “cycle out” suboptimal batteries so they are not picked up by consumers.

    4) Renault and Nissan are making a huge investment in tooling up for these cars. Are they stupid?

  8. jorleh says:

    Why not to go altogether without batteries: cables over the road like electric trains? Of course not all roads, but however so many you choice? Take the electricity out of the cables.

  9. As your experts say, Better Place is proposing one model with two ways to recharge. Other models will emerge.

    Better Place does offer choice… fast-charging points, which are just plug-your-car-in-and-wait-15 minutes spots, and stations where you can swap the battery out in two or three minutes. In Israel, they’re building 500,000 charging points; I don’t know how many will do one or the other, but if you don’t want to swap your battery, don’t. You’ll presumably have 490,000 or so places to recharge.

    They’ve partnered with Renault-Nissan to supply the EVs, and their batteries will work both ways. The plan is that you won’t own the batteries — bringing down the sticker price of the car by (some suggest by $6,000 or more) — you’ll lease them and pay a monthly charging fee that works like a graduated cell phone plan. Presumably PHEVs will work with the system as well. Other automakers who want to work with Better Place will presumably have access to the system after a period of Renault exclusivity; if their batteries aren’t swappable, they can still be recharged.

    Or the other automakers can sign on with other companies like Coulomb.

    The big picture is that we have a few companies building a recharging infrastructure, and hopefully demonstrating that it can work.

    And while I’m with you on the wisdom of recharging cars with coal-fired energy — probably not a great policy — Better Place isn’t only working in Israel; Portugal, Denmark, Ireland, Hawaii, San Francisco Bay area, Toronto, Australia, possibly Japan are also working with Better Place. And several of those projects are being designed to use renewable energy.

    So I don’t understand. I’ll admit that Shai Agassi sounds like a salesman first and foremost. But I’m OK with that because he’s just offering one solution.

    These projects are creating the EV and PHEV infrastructure that will mostly run on renewable energy, that will make it easier for people who invest in EVs and PHEVs to recoup their investment (with a lower-sticker price and a recharging scheme will presumably cost less than buying petrol), and that will ensure that money that formerly went to support Exxon and Shell — and nations overseas — now stays in the country that had the foresight to create the recharging network. Battery technology with improve, as Josh says, so early adopters won’t be punished for going first.

    And if you don’t like the Better Place system, you can find another provider.

    As I write these words, know that most traditional automakers are still suing California over their emissions waiver, and that a meeting to iron out differences was attended by the the Union of Concerned Scientists, NRDC, California’s Air Resources Board, and the Big Three, along with Toyota and Honda. It ended with no progress, and they haven’t even agreed to meet again.

    Doesn’t it sound like we’re going to have to drag them — kicking and screaming — into the future? Did you notice that Renault-Nissan, the company partnering with Better Place, isn’t a member in the California lawsuit, and isn’t fighting change as hard as other automakers?

    Just something to think about.

  10. L.D. Gussin says:

    I believe the Post article has a small but important error, which the blog post repeats.

    Rather than the small gasoline engine taking over after 40 miles, which implies a limited range (say 4 gallons x 35 mpg=140 miles), the engine acts as a generator to power the motor OR recharge the battery, based on what the car is doing. This, GM says, can extend the engine’s range to as much 640 miles.

    The extended engine range can, I think, support an argument that the battery range could reasonably be reduced from 40 to 20 miles.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chevrolet_Volt

  11. Being able to go 40 miles in all-electric mode covers more than 75 percent of American car use… Anyone have figures on what 20 all-electric miles would cover?

  12. Scatter says:

    While I definitely prefer range extended EVs as a solution, I think the battery swap model has legs and shouldn’t be dismissed quite yet – particularly in smaller countries (say 100 – 200 miles across). Battery leasing will bring the capital cost to the consumer down which will be critical. The chicken and egg situation can be alleviated if Nissan/Renault can launch a line of cars with reasonable capital costs and lower monthly operating costs than the petrol powered alternative.

    I have issues with the paragraph starting “What quality controls will be in place….” The whole point is that the battery you get with the car isn’t going to stay in your car for long. As pointed out above the system can easily monitor battery performance and pull underperforming units for reconditioning / replacement. Frankly the fact that you don’t have “your” battery strikes me as a big benefit (what happens under the alternative model if your battery starts underperforming? You’re stuck with it)

    Gas stations – this really doesn’t seem like a show stopper to me. You’d only need battery swap stations on the routes out of town and then at intervals to the next town or city. For travel within an urban area you won’t need to swap because the recharging infrastructure will be there. Is all of that out of town land at such a premium? Maybe Better Place could hook up with Walmart or another large retailer who are keen to flex their environmental muscles. I’m sure they could give up a bit of their parking lot for a fee.

    The number of batteries available at a particular station could slowly be ramped up as the number of vehicles on the road expands and the recharging can be done quickly so there would be a finite number of batteries required to maintain a steady flow of replacements. People are quite predictable in their habits so I don’t see why they couldn’t get a good idea of how many need to be kept in any one place in fairly short order. If things get tight early on they could have electric vans relocating batteries as necessary (as happens with the Velib bike hire system in Paris).

    My one concern is that battery technology will come on leaps and bounds in the next few years and this model will slowly become redundant.

  13. darth says:

    Thanks John Hollenberg for those links – looks like H2 is still dead. Next time i’ll do my own searching first! ;-)

  14. Harold Pierce Jr says:

    ATTN: darth

    Hydrogen fuels cells for cars were dead in the water from square one for a number of reasons.

    First hydrogen always exists in Naure in a positive oxidation state like base metals. Winning hydrogen away from the “ores” methane and water (i.e., smelting) requires an immense amount of energy.

    Methane is the preferred source of hydrogen since it is 25% by wt hydrogen whereas water is only 11% hydrogen by wt. Water is free, but nat isn’t altho it was always fairly cheap for industrial users.

    Hydrogen is obtained from nat gas by heating it with steam and a catalyst at 900 deg C and high pressure to give one part hydrogen and one part carbon monoxde, which are separated. This process is called “high temperature steam reforming of nat gas.”

    The carbon monoxide and water are heated at about 600 deg C in the presence of a catalyst to give one part hydrogen and one part carbon dioxide. This reaction is called the “shift reaction.”

    In ammonia plants the heat obtained from the hydrogenation of nitrogen is captured and is used for process energy e.g., steam generation.

    The hydrogen produced by these two processes is used almost exclusively to produce ammonia and methanol. The carbon dioxide is usually vented. In Canada, supercritical carbon dioxide from a neaby ammonia plant is used to enhance oil recovery from the Weyburne (sp?) oil field in Mannitoba. Remarkably most all of the carbon dioxide stays in the formation.

    The water-gas reaction is still used to produce hydrogen for industrial processes such as metal cutting and welding. In this process, super-heated steam is blown thru incondesent coke to give hydogen and carbon monoxide which are separatied. Since the steam and breaking the hydrogen-oxygen bonds cools the coke to below reaction temperature, the steam is shut off after a certain time, and air is blown thru the coke which cause it to burn and heat up back to reaction temperature. The carbon monoxde is then sent to shift reactor to give more hydrogen. The carbon dioxide is vented.

    The third process for hydrogen production is electrolysis of water. Altho this procecess is expensive due to high cost of electicity. it is extensively used to produce high-purity hydrogen for those special applications that requires it such as fuel cells, semiconductor manufacture, fine chemical synthesis, analytical instruments in particular gas chromatographs with flame-ionization detectors, etc.

    A second reason hydrogen fuels are no-go is that platinum and palladim, which are used as catalyst, are very rare and extremely expensive.

    The hydrogen fuel storage and delivery system are made from expensive metal alloys to prevent “hydrogen metal embritlement, well-known phenomena that occurs when hydrogen is under high pressure in metal containers, which weakens the walls of the container, resulting somtimes in
    fracture of the metal.

    The hydrogen tanks will have to be removed a specificed intervals for testing of structual integrity as is done for all cylinders containing compressed gases. You never here about this. This is one of the main reason car makers are not too keen on fuel cells for cars. This process is time consuming and expensive. And who is going to pay for it?

    The most important disadvantage of hydrogen as a fuel for cars is low energy density.

    Finallly it is unlikey the insurance companies would will provide insurance because of all the technical problems and thieves will steal’em like hot cakes to get the catalyst and the other expensive metal alloys. Also transportion authorites probably won’t allow these cars on the road due possibilty ofcatastrophic expolsion that might occur from the result of a collision.

  15. MikeB says:

    For any vehicle needing extended range travel, I think the advantages of liquid fuel makes them the clear winner. Battery replacement, or even the mythical 5-minute recharge, is just not that practical.

    And, as Harold notes, hydrogen isn’t a good choice. However, I read recently that methanol fuel cells may actually outperform hydrogen, and the energy per fuel volume is better. We’d need to make sure our methanol production itself was green, but that shouldn’t be too difficult.

    I like the idea of a fuel cell constantly recharging my vehicle’s battery pack on a long drive, it seems cleaner and more civilized than just burning something and trying to capture the heat.

  16. Harold Pierce Jr says:

    MikeB

    A methanol fuel cell actually use hydrogen that is produced from methanol vapor that a passed thru a small reactor that has a nickel catalyst and is heated to ca 1000 deg C. Thanks but no thanks because this reactor is going to be nothing but trouble.

    I doubt that these high tech wonders will ever be viable because drivers just beat the ever loving crap out of their cars and most state and city roads are lousy. Vibration is a killer for these type of cars. Repairs for these cars are likely quite expensive if major components are severly damaged in a collision, such as battery packs or electric motors.

  17. melodie.chia says:

    Interesting post. Batteries can be totally reliable or unreliable. Its a matter of getting the correct brand. Especially for aa lithum battery, important to get long lasting ones.

  18. Jan Heetebrij says:

    Hydrogen for propulsion purpose does not make any sense. Neither as a fuel for an ICE nor a fuel cell. The first application is even beyond any serious consideration. Ulf Bossel of the European Fuel Cell Forum issued some very useful reports on the subject. For more details see http://www.efecf.com , section reports.

    Hydrogen in specifically a PEM fuel cell could be useful for local energy generating purposes when there is waste hydrogen, which is often the case at refineries and chemical plants. Nothing wrong with that. However keep it away from road transport applications.

    In concluding so it does not make any sense either to consider hydrogen as a carrier of energy. Much better to generate electricity and use advanced electricity transport technologies such as HVDC for large scale renewable installations to bring it to the user or go for local energy autonomy using the energy pack of the car in combination with local solar and wind.

    The last application becomes the more interesting if the energy pack in the car is well laid out to not only propel the vehicle but be used as an independent power provider or a power buffer for the grid. This becomes the more interesting if a range extender can be used for such an application in the peak shaving mode. This offers extremely interesting models, both for local energy autonomy as well as the off grid power supply mode.

    I do have my strong doubts about fuel cells, the continuously shifting dream. To my opinion the DMFC, the Direct Methanol Fuel Cell, is still the most promising of that dream, generating again electricity.

    The methanol for the DMFC however should not be retrieved from high temp steam reforming of natgas, but much better from syngas generated through gasification of cellulose containing biomass. When the DMFC and the gasification process could be harnessed through practical, useful and reliable processes we would enter a new scene. Forest exploration would become useful and profitable. Anybody who knows the enormous quantities of cellulose containing biomass, generated through the beautyful cooperation of our beloved planet and the sun and figures we are speaking about understands what I mean.

    However you turn it electricty keeps turning up to be the most efficient carrier of energy. So let’s continue on that route and let’s get as soon as possible away from the ICE. Too many tricks to get that machine properly and emission free working. Being a mechanical engineer by education and still by heart, with specialization on just such machines makes it the more difficult for me to say, but it is the inevitable truth.

    For me the PHEV in the serial hybrid configuration, just like the GM Volt and the Volvo C30 PHEV In Wheel concept car, is the most practical answer. Go through the economics, vehicle weight calculations and related models and reality will teach you.

    The PBP model is a hype, supported by a well oiled marketing machine and prospering on the ignorance of decision makers. PBP started out with the wrong model and it is very hard to kill your own baby, certainly at this stage of their game. The hard realities of life will however teach them. It is however too bad to see that happen, because the real opponents of the sustainable society, including between others certainly the “seven sisters”, will use it to try and convince the world the EV does not work, which is certainly not the case.

    We are not waiting for another movie like “who killed the electrical car”. I therefore hope to see the Obama administration and new leaders in industry lead us into a new, sustainable economy, really understanding what they are doing and seperating the good from the bad. We cannot afford more crooks and failures. I am happy to support our new leaders to get their job done properly. I sincerely hope all people of good will, wanting to serve the Common Good, will do the same. Playtime is over, the fight to save our planet and revive our economy is going on and needs all our support.

  19. Jan Heetebrij says:

    Apologies for a small mistake in my before going message. The reference to the web site of the European Fuel Cell Forum should read http://www.efcf.com

  20. Falstaff says:

    After the exchange station demonstration in Japan last May, maybe it is appropriate to revisit this topic?

    After some study of the problem, I also find it problematic, but likely solvable, if not by Better Place. The important point here is that I see no other option at the moment to enable wide spread adoption of electric vehicles. The economics of PHEV’s, with their dual drive trains and battery life cycle tied inappropriately to the vehicle life cycle, will for remain substantially inferior to ICE vehicles for decades, if not forever. BEV’s will are cheaper on a per mile basis than both at the price gasoline now, today. But, they have that range problem. Lets tackle it.

    And if there is a revisit, next time, please, some better outside ‘experts’. We don’t need a “California official and alt fuel expert” that can’t be bothered to actually run the numbers in detail on an exchange station, or “An engineer and utility EV expert” to tell us “People somehow always think they need to drive farther than they actually do”, when the fact remains that it would take three days to complete a trip from London to Glasgow in a BEV like the Tesla.

    PS: The comment on existing gasoline stations being “very prime property” in the US is, well, hand waiving. In urban centers, it is true enough on a square foot basis, but off point. Out on the highway’s, where BP intends to locate exchange stations, the center of location where the existing gas stations ‘plant their flag’ is indeed highly prized, but the surrounding land is often idle acres, relatively worthless, as any quick investigation into the actual business would have shown you. Also, gasoline stations, being a hazardous materials handler, are restricted by zoning. An all electric refueling station of whatever kind could pop up in any corner of a any parking lot – which is not true a gasoline station.