Project Better Place is about developing an electric vehicle battery swapping system that can enable people to literally replace their battery packs in exchange for another one which was charged while it was at the Better Place swapping station.
In other words: While battery packs that other people dropped off are stored inside the swapping station and are being charged, you would drop off your old battery by driving onto a machine which then takes it out from underneath the car and installs a new one in the car in less than 5 minutes.
It then charges the old one that you dropped off so that it is ready to be installed when the next vehicle stops by for a replacement.
Even more simplified: A machine removes your old battery pack at the swapping station, installs a new one, and then charges the old one so that it can be installed in the next car.
In essence, you only borrow the battery to drive the car up to 100 miles and then return it to the station. The objective of this project is to avoid hours of charging when one’s battery runs out of energy. A long charge time exacerbates range anxiety because if you are running out of energy, you know that you will be stuck at a charger in public for hours. You may not even be able to find a charger at this time when they are just now being installed around the world.
Better Place announced that, next month, it will start selling an electric Renault sedan in Israel that is capable of undergoing the battery replacement process mentioned above. It says that the Renault will be 20% cheaper to own than a conventional gasoline-only car because gasoline is very expensive in Israel (about $8 per gallon).
Currently, the best alternative to battery replacement every 100 miles is long-range batteries that enable you to travel 300 miles per charge. These are extremely expensive compared to batteries that provide 100 miles of driving range, simply because bigger batteries are required to provide a longer range (since they store more energy).
The advantage of batteries with a 300-mile range is that the vast majority of people could drive to and from work and school every single day, run errands, and much more without stopping anywhere to charge. They would only need to recharge overnight.
Project Better Place appears to be an example of out-of-the-box thinking, though — this is a very unusual project that you wouldn’t expect from anyone (I certainly wouldn’t have thought of that). I will update you when I get more information on it’s progress.
Better Place’s main package offers 3 years of driving at 25,000 miles per year — including the cost of the car — for $46,000. It claims that this package is 35% cheaper than owning a gasoline-powered car for 3 years. Another package is for $36,000, which is the cost of the car plus $320 to $470 per month to drive the car 20,000-30,000 km per year. In the case of both packages, the price includes the installation of home charging stations.
As is the case with all new technologies (and ways to use existing technologies like this), Better Place will learn about the drawbacks of this arrangement and improve it in the future.
Related Stories on CleanTechnica:
- Car 2.0 Overview
- Father of iPod Moving to the Clean Tech Sector Now
- Clean Tech Investments Soaring in 2010
- Shai Agassi: The Israeli T. Boone Pickens?
Photo via canonsnapper