Battery Swapping Stations

Sulfur and brine for electric car batteries
Sulfur and brine for electric car batteries

One of the new crazes which is taking the electric car market by storm is battery swapping stations, which are effectively a means of very quickly swapping a discharged battery or battery pack for a fully charged one. This type of technology has been used in the commercial industry for many years now, with particular emphasis upon warehouse vehicles such as forklift trucks, but is now something that the electric car industry has embraced.

How does a battery swapping station work?

There are a number of battery swapping stations around the world, although it would be foolish to suggest there are anywhere near enough to make a difference to the electric vehicle market at this moment in time. Effectively, all you need to do is drive into the battery swapping station and in a perfect world, the technology is being developed and expanded, you would not even need to leave your vehicle as everything would be done automatically.

In simple terms, the seven hours or even more taken to recharge your vehicle battery can be condensed into anything under a couple of minutes. So once the battery swap has been completed you are effectively back to "full charge" and can continue on your journey. The likes of Tesla Motors and Mitsubishi, to name but two vehicle giants, are currently looking to integrate battery swapping stations with their existing technology. At this moment in time there are no general industry wide dimensions therefore only a small number of vehicles can automatically have their batteries replaced, while others may require manual assistance.

The benefits of battery swapping stations

There are a number of benefits which battery swapping stations will have over traditional electric vehicle charging points, which include the time taken, as suggested above, which can be reduced from a matter of hours to a matter of minutes. In a perfect world, assuming the relative dimensions of the vehicle in question are compatible with the battery swapping station, you would not even need to leave your vehicle in the future.

Quote from ElectricForum.com : "What would it take to have car makers use a standard form factor battery so that batteries be changed instead of recharged?"

However, perhaps one of the more commercially viable benefits of battery swapping stations is the fact that due to a contract with the battery swapping company the car owner does not actually own the battery in their vehicle. All of the running costs, maintenance costs, and any other costs associated with storing and recharging the stock of batteries are taken on by the battery swapping company.

Is this a quick fix while charging points grow in number?

While many may see this as a simple steppingstone from zero car charging points to a fully functional car charging network around the world, the truth is that battery swapping points will have a role to play in the future. The ability to literally pull into a battery swapping station, sit in your vehicle and have your battery or your battery pack replaced within just a matter of minutes is as quick if not quicker than refuelling at a traditional petrol/gasoline station.

If electric car companies, governments, and other commercial operations around the world are able to increase the number of battery swapping stations, as well as improving the network of electric car charging points, then there will be a number of benefits going forward. The more ways in which electric cars can be recharged as quickly as possible, the more useful they will become for the general public and the greater the number of electric cars sold.