Thanks to Simon for your comments on Petrol Stations of the Future (and to Will and to Chris also). I started writing responses, but again this is quite a big topic so have turned it into a new post instead (for those who have just joined the thread – you can read the first post in the transport series here, the second which has a little video is here, the third here and the fourth here).
Simon – you make a couple of good points there. The idea of sitting around for 20 minutes while your car charges will be a bit of a challenge for some people, and it could require large numbers of ‘pumps’ or parking spaces. On the other hand we’ll all have ‘petrol stations’ at home, since we can plug our cars in every night and so the number of us using on street ‘petrol stations’ will drop perhaps massively. It would really only be when travelling more than 150 to 200 miles at a time – I don’t know what proportion of car journeys that is, but it would make interesting reading. And when so many of us have electric cars it’s easy enough to imagine fast charging facilities springing up in Supermarket car parks – I mean for how long will Tesco be willing to sit this one out? Even public car parks could have fast charging bays, and slow ones – for short and long stay parking. It’s quite possible that habits will change significantly and trips to the ‘garage’ disappear altogether.
Loads on the local grid are another good point, there’s definitely an issue to look at there. Electric cars shift the current petroleum load (in terms of energy) onto the grid anyway – and that’s a really big shift. Easier to strengthen that infrastructure though than build a new (hydrogen) one.
I don’t personally believe that swappable batteries are something that will work. It would require an incredible degree of co operation between car makers, and similarity of car design. Right now it would be nice if there was a common small appliance charging standard, for mobile phones and cameras etc – but instead we have a vast array of different ones. Bringing all car makers together would be far harder.
And then there’s the question of weight, these batteries aren’t light, it’s not likely to be easy to swap such a thing yourself.
Swappable batteries would be very unlikely to work in retrofit electric cars. And retrofit offers huge potential to reuse what we already have.
And finally one of the big advantages of the latest battery technology is you can shape the battery and distribute and fit it into parts of the car where it can assist to optimise weight distribution and centre of gravity – swappable batteries would negate all of that.
I doubt very much that the idea will succeed. It sounds good in principle though.