Denmark is the newest country to get Israeli innovator Shai Agassi’s battery-switching stations. The first of 20 long-planned Better Place battery swap stations slated for installation over the next twelve months was inaugurated today, CNet is reporting.
The EV battery switching station was installed in Gladsaxe, a town just outside of Copenhagen. The first battery swap was conducted on a Renault Fluence ZE, which, along with the Nissan Rogue SUV, is one of just two car models designed to accept the robotic battery swap technology designed by Agassi, so far. But that is not slowing Danish enthusiasm for Better Place.
Swapping batteries is Shai Agassi’s solution to the problem he sees with EVs: that people will not be willing to change their driving habits as they move from gasoline to electricity to power their cars. Since it only takes a few minutes in a gas station to fill up, Agassi reasons, then – for EVs to succeed – it can take no more than a few minutes to fill up on electricity. But currently, EVs take from 15 minutes to partially top up to (at home) as long as eight hours to fully recharge.
Many people do see this as a serious drawback. I don’t. Since we humans need to recharge overnight with a good night’s sleep anyway, then I see no inconvenience in leaving our EVs plugged in overnight to recharge as well.
I think that if EVs had come first, and we were only now switching to gas cars, I think people would be raising a fuss over having to drive to a smelly gas station located inconveniently so far away from home and to then have to stand there for endless minutes tethered to a smelly dripping gasoline hose, and to have to wait there while the gas car fills with smelly petrol.
It is simply much more convenient to drive home and plug in the car and forget it – till it’s time to get up and go in the morning. Plugging in takes, what – a second? Do people resent the time it takes to plug in a phone? I remember when a phone did not need to be plugged in every night or it would simply stop working, but I adapted to that added inconvenience, and now I plug in my cell phone daily. People just do adapt to major technological change. I think people will adapt to recharging cars at home rather than in petrol stations, as well.
But Agassi doubts that. So with Better Place, the idea is that you would drive your EV (either the Renault, or the Nissan) to a battery swap station. A robotic platform would slide under your car from below, unbolt the discharged battery recessed in the bottom of the car, and slide it away. Then another robotic platform would slide underneath with the fresh battery to replace it.
The entire process would take less than 2 minutes. This time compares favorably with the more widespread model of battery recharging.
But to succeed, Better Place will need more than two models to incorporate design that’s compatible with his technology. In the three or four years that Agassi has been promoting this alternative, there has been little movement in that direction. But with the first of these 20 stations planned in Denmark now open, maybe that is about to change.
Image: Better Place
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