30 Reasons For Implementing EV Battery Swapping

In the UK, almost all focus on EV charging has been around the roll out of the infrastructure for charging points. However, something that is rarely discussed is battery swapping and I think it’s worth investigating. 

NIO, the Chinese car maker, already has a working version of battery swapping in China, and Bosch and Mitsubishi have recently announced a partnership to explore batteries as a service. 

Here are 30 reasons why Eloy prefers battery swapping over EV charging.

EV Battery Exchange

EV battery exchange station render

1. The behavioural dynamics of battery swapping are similar to filling up with petrol

Forcing large scale beavioural changes, in particular, asking drivers to plan trips that take into account where they should stop to charge, is going to be difficult. A group of car makers will eventually figure this out and build a swapping service that can happen in the same time as  it takes to fill a tank with no advanced planning required. 

2. Energy load can be spread across the day

Batteries can be charged when they are not in the vehicle, which means the service can be more aligned with energy production. Direct car changing means power needs to be produced when the vehicle is plugged in and the driver is waiting.

3. We can understand the business model

EV public charging is new and very complex. We don’t know the future EV uptake, when and how people will charge, or even the types of charger required. Battery swapping is very similar to filling up a tank; people will do it at a particularly threshold, say when there os 25% charge remaining, and will follow similar patterns to current petrol filling.

4. Leasing the battery will lower the upfront EV cost

The battery is a significant part of the cost of an EV vehicle. If they are removed from the initial cost and essentially borrowed week-to-week, this will dramatically lower the cost of EVs and improve access beyond those on higher incomes.

5. Leasing the battery reduces the future challenge of battery recycling

Batteries that are no longer owned by the car owner and regularly get swapped, means more effective recycling can take place, or they can be transferred to another use, such as general electricity usage. Batteries will also be maintained better, therefore potentially prolonging their lives.

6. Leasing the battery reduces the driver fears around battery lifespan

Some drivers feel that batteries will reduce in effectiveness as they age, which happened in earlier EVs. The risk is removed with battery swapping.

7. Ultra-rapid charging may put a huge strain on the power grid, while battery swapping doesn't

The fastest way to re-charge your EV is to use a battery that is already charged. Charging ‘live’ will put the power grid under strain due to higher peaks.

NIO battery swap solution

8. Battery swapping may be a better way to raise tax

Fuel duty is a very efficient tax, as large petrol retailers keep good records and pay promptly to HMRC. One would expect similar collection efficiencies with battery swapping duties.

9. Battery swapping could be a more effective way to use night-time energy than relying on individual behaviour

30 million individuals trying to time optimally efficient charging is less efficient than 10 battery swapping companies coordinating wholesale energy markets.

10. Battery swapping could facilitate specialisation in batteries

Companies currently need to be good at making batteries and good at making cars, or have solid Tier 1 OEM relationships. Battery swapping could liberalise this market

11. Swapping batteries could form a smarter part of power storage

Relying on home owners to return stored energy back to the grid from their car is naive. However, this might be a struggle to implement as drivers desire a nearly full EV due to range anxiety. Battery swapping companies, along with wholesale energy markets, would be more efficient at doing this by releasing battery power when there is peak electricity demand.

12. Battery swapping makes more sense for fleets where daytime charing could destroy business models.

The fastest way to re-charge your EV is to use a battery that is already charged. Charging ‘live’ will put the power grid under strain due to higher peaks.

13. Batteries are harder to steal, compared to vandals cutting charger power cables for the copper

We have seen some evidence that people will cut EV charging cables with the intention of stealing and selling the copper contained within. It is much harder to steal a battery and the number of cables would be reduced.

14. Battery swapping avoids the conflict between needing to park and needing drive

The balance between parking and charging is a problem for on-street parking. We can’t prohibit people from parking near their homes, even if they don’t need to charge, which means charging utliisation will be low.

15. Battery swapping avoids needing to park far from your house if you don’t have a driveway

If a person has a low battery and needs to charge, but do not have access to a driveway they will need to park on a street where there is public charging. This is made worse if they have heavy bags to carry, kids or other dependents with them, and other constraints. Battery swapping doesn’t have this problem.

16. Battery swapping reduces the stress of owning an EV if you don’t have home charging

Most of the stresses of public charging are removed. With a full battery available within 2 minutes and the complexity is owned by the companies looking to service the market.
EV Battery

EV battery technology will outpace EV car technology 

17. Battery swapping can offer a means to have fairer pricing across society

It may prove easier to create more equal pricing for swapping. With charging, those able to charge overnight have a price advantage. With swapping, the power can be drawn overnight for everyone, creating more equal pricing across society.

18. Battery swapping allows price differentiation based on vehicle size

Battery swapping could be made more expensive for less efficient vehicles as the swapping station would have the technology available to read number plates, thereby discouraging large, electric SUVs.

19. Battery swapping could allow towing by EVs to be more realistic

Larger loads require more power which means more battery drain and is one of the reasons many drivers stick with diesel because they want the power and longer range. Battery swapping may be able to address the higher power requirement as it’s less of an issue if you can quickly swap your battery every 100 miles.

20. Battery swapping doesn’t replace charging

If you want to charge at home and not swap, you still can.

21. Battery swapping could be sold as a subscription model

Batteries on subscription might make sense as a business model, with battery makers having branded swapping stations, similar to Shell branded petrol.

22. Battery swapping is better for several vulnerable driver groups

Women may not like to park-to-charge in car parks at night and then walk home. Disabled drivers may find plugging in cables a significant challenge. Swapping doesn’t need to have people parking overnight away from home, it avoids needing to plug in cables, and can be done from the comfort of your vehicle.

23. Battery swapping addresses a major issue in that battery technology is fast moving compared to the rest of the vehicle

Batteries today may function in 5 years, but they will not be comparable to future battery quality. Being able to swap reduces this problem and may mean more people will adopt EVs sooner, rather than waiting for batteries and range to improve.

24. Battery swapping would permit shorter range batteries as the time to swap is short

This removes the obsession with range, and smaller batteries will weigh less, and therefore be more efficient.

25. Battery swapping won’t have the inconvenience of a charging station being out of order

Up to 10% of charging stations are not operational at any point in time. Swapping won’t have the same failure rate and should always be open for business.

26. Battery swapping won’t have the faff of needing dozens of different apps and payment methods

Lamp post charging with RFID cards. Various smartphone apps for different charging providers. Instead, simply pay with a credit card at a swapping station kiosk.

27. Battery swapping stations can offer other services

Just like petrol stations, battery swapping stations can include convenience stores and other retail offerings.

28. Battery swapping avoids the ‘last EV charging bay’ road rage

Competing for a parking space is tough and can lead to road rage. Imagine if it also meant you would need to wait a further 30 minutes in your car, rather than just 2 or 3 minutes to find another space. Battery swapping significantly reduces this risk.

29. If a car is sitting idle, the battery can be used by others

If a car isn’t going to be driven for weeks or months, remove the battery. Leasing models should cover this

30. Battery swapping doesn’t need more street furniture.

Our pavements are already covered in other street furniture, badly parked cars and more. Swapping doesn’t make this worse.

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