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October 29, 2007

Comments

Tom Konrad

I'd love to see this vision happen, but I could easily see a standards war for battery packs crippling the battery exchange idea.

bigTom

If battery packs continue to be high cost items, I would forsee some potential for some users to abuse the system, trying to pass off bad batteries etc. Perhaps with decent accounting and testing this can be avoided. Also easily swopped batteries, would imply that they are easy to remove, they may make a tempting target for thieves.

Danzig

“Existing technology, coupled with the right business model and a scalable infrastructure can provide an immediate solution . . ."

“Project Better Place will establish a network of charging spots and battery exchange stations to provide ubiquitous access to electricity to power electric vehicles. They will deploy and test this framework over the next 24 months in a variety of launch markets, after which it plans to deploy hundreds of thousands of vehicles annually, across multiple markets.”

So, Mr. Agassi first informs us that “existing technology can provide an immediate solution”. Then, he informs us that he will spend the next two years deploying and testing his “framework”. Two years? Of testing? What happened to immediate?

And then, with the two years of testing completed, Mr. Agassi will “deploy hundreds of thousands of vehicles annually.”

Exactly what vehicles would those be? Who will be building those vehicles 24 months from now? And more importantly, who would the buyers of those vehicles be?

Does Mr. Agassi know that there are precisely zero over-the-road electric vehicles available for immediate delivery in America? Tesla and Phoenix remain on the hopes and dreams list, and their high prices will guarantee short lines at the purchasing counter when (and if) they ever appear.

Hundreds of thousands of road worthy, rationally priced electric vehicles in 2009 or 2010?

Ah, the dreams of youth. Aren’t they grand?

Jim Dale

Tom & bigTom,

Don't worry about any issue with replacement/exchange of batteries... at least with the Phoenix Motorcars' SUT.

The NanoSafe batteries from Altair Nanotechnologies will outlast the vehicle itself. Tens of thousands (perhaps hundreds of thousands by now) charge/discharge cycle tests have been run (by them and an independent lab) and the results indicate these batteries are not only as safe as a lump of clay ... but also virtually immortal.

Altair (the battery's maker) owns 16.6% of Phoenix Motorcars, which has a 3-year exclusivity to the NanoSafe (renewable). Phoenix makes extremely conservative claims about the batteries, but if you do the math,
you'd have to drive the car about a million miles worth of charges/discharges before you'd start to see any barely measurable loss in charging capability.

The NanoSafe uses a layer of lithium nano-titanate(?) rather than graphite (used in regular lithium-ion). They generate absolutely no heat during charging (no matter how fast you charge them) and does no expansion/contraction (which makes the lithium-ion grow old fast).

It sounds like the only time you'll want to remove the batteries would be when the body's ready for the junkyard.

Let's just hope the Phoenix Motorcars' initial delivery (planned "early 2008") finally launches OK. They're still battling opposing forces with finances and (ironically) the C.A.R.B. (stalling on what kind of plug-in interface meets their fancy).

See ==> http://phoenixmotorcars.com

Jim Dale

Most important, I forgot to mention ...

The Phoenix Motorcars SUTs & SUVs (using the NanoSafe batteries I described above) only take 10 minutes to charge!

No battery swapping ... neither to replace the charge nor for any other reason whatsoever.

You'd spend no more time charging up your EV than you currently do filling up your tank.
That's when you're travelling long distance.

For everyday travel (around town) you'd be able to do most of the charging at home (maybe once a week while you sleep). Seldom would you ever have to charge up at a commercial charging station. (We never could fill up our gas-tanks at home.)

Otmar

I'm not holding my breath on Phoenix since it's a company that has shown to be full of dreamy fluff over the years.

With many varieties of lithium cells coming to market fast, (10-20 year life, 10 minute charging) I see no need for any sort of battery exchange.
This is a twenty year old idea, that expired ten years ago.
My prediction: Failure.

Or he's just another in a long line of silver tongued grant suckers.

-Otmar

Danzig

Jim Dale: The people who populate the Energy Blog have followed Altair/Phoenix with great interest. Your comments here are a nice summary of the press releases from those companies over the past 18 months or so. But, you haven't given us anything new in this post, which reads very much like a commercial. Can you tell us if you are directly connected in some way with Altair/Phoenix? Or are you simply an interested citizen, hoping that the A/P dream will come true (like the rest of us)?

Nathan

People are missing obvious solutions to these problems.

Rather than stop every 100-200 miles for a battery on a 1000 mile trip; why not have a system where you load your entire car onto a train and sit back and relax for the trip?

It is insane to me that a system like this is not in place. Transporting goods by train is far more efficient and with sufficient scale, cheaper than the gas it would cost you to make the trip... It is sad that the heavily subsidized highway system in America has all but pushed out trains as the major mode a movement for Americans.

Apart from that, electrified roads will be a much better long term solution to this problem. If my car draws energy from the very road Im driving on, I can cut out the 800 pound battery pack, along with the expense and reduced vehicle performance it causes.

Angus

Question?

If I have an electric car then when I am stopped or coasting, does the car's motor stop completely with zero energy use or does the system have to idle as a gas engine does now?

Seems to me this alone would reduce energy usage considerably?

Danzig

Nathan,
The cars-on-trains trick has some history in America, but I can promise you that it has no future. Auto-Train, an AmTrak service, has been around for decades. The train has one route: from Sanford, Florida to Lorton, Virginia. I used the service in the early 90's, and again this year. It simply cannot accommodate America's love affair with CONVENIENCE. Two people and their family Chevy can take the ride for $539 (yikes!). The trip takes almost 18 hours, and that does not count the time required to get the cars on and off the train (another hour at each end). Since the number of riders is low, the best part of the service is this: there is very little competition for window seats.

bigTom

Angus,
Having a Prius (not a true electric) when it is stopped -or coasting the gasoline motor is usually off. The big savings is that a lot of energy is dissipated by the moving parts of a gas motor -even when no power is being drawn from it. For a pure electric, you will still be running a few functions, lights, fans etc., and even when your vehicle is parked and unoccupied there will be a small amount of leakage within the battery. You have probably noticed that many rechargable batteries will lose their charge in perhaps a month or two if they are simply sitting. But these loses are much smaller than those from an idling engine.

Personally I'm not much of a fan of the all electric vehicle. Plug in hybrids would seem to be a more useful solution to me. There may be some niches where all electrics make sense though, after all you avoid the expense of having a liquid fueled engine, as well as an electric.

Peter Keuter

There is no question, electric cars will outperform gasoline-fueled cars and dominate the market very soon, because nano-tech-based batteries have the capacity and last longer than a typical car life, charging cycles of about 10 minutes achieving a respectable driving range of 250 miles and the owner can refuel the car at home from third party or own energy sources.

Customer needs must be met, calling for independency, respectable driving range, fast refueling time with less refueling cost/mile including sufficient performance. An electric car can accelerate from 0-60mph in less than 5s with 0% direct emission. Besides that, the well-to-wheel emission can’t be achieved from any other technology discussed at present, therefore, electric-powered cars will be setting new benchmarks in the automotive world.

Car makers will be forced to offer their own electric car models, it’s just a matter of time before management recognizes that customer demands are already present and that the overall environmental requirements can’t be met with any gasoline-fueled car in future. Assumably, we will be seeing a big roll-out starting in 2009.

It's hard to believe that exchanging a battery at specific destinations will ever earn the acceptance of customers. Direct-Drive Technology associated with Plug-In & Drive in about 10 minutes will be the future.

All-electric-powered cars will be the hot topic and the driving force of economic growth associated with a cleaner future.

For more information please contact Global Valuable Resources, LLC, advisory services for clean-tech investments, at gvrllc@earthlink.net

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Batteries/Hybrid Vehicles