Turkey Day and Spyder 550 Battery Balance

Well, it’s the week of Turkey Day, and as one of the larger and less flight prone Turkeys in the area, a time that always makes me uneasy.

Actually, both my wife and I are excellent cooks, accounting for my unfortunate girth, and Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. Family visit and good food, with none of the preparatory stress of Christmas or the insect life of the 4th of July.

So, I’ve finally gotten around to posting LAST week’s video to the blogosphere. Vanity of vanities – someone might care.

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Actually, it was a pretty good show. We ran two cars down to pretty much the bottom of the power pile and took some interesting measurements. I alluded to these earlier.

Speedster the original was run to a full stop. In fact, it stopped about six times on the way back to the shed. I would let it sit for about 5 minutes and the cells recovered enough to go another 150 yards or so. Ultimately we pushed it into our new facility at 601 Morgan Oak. All cells were low but the first six cells on the front string were all actually below 0.500 v measured statically 10 minutes later. So they must have been flat zero in operation.

We are going to rebuild this Speedster anyway with a new motor, different controller, and entirely different battery pack, so I was curious. Put a slow charge on the pack and ALL cells came right back up to perfect working levels. I won’t say we did these six any good, but the car is driving nicely and they seem to be perfectly happy at the moment.

The Spyder 550 was more interesting in that we did NOT run it entirely out. The 157 km trip used 176.5 AH of the 180 available and we still had cells above 3.00v. So I sent Matt for a couple of sleds of Stag Beer and by the time he got back at 183 AH they were all nicely below 3.00v.

The list of voltages tells the tale. The cells were very nicely balanced. Understand this pack had 5500 km on it and first rolled last June. It had never been top balanced, and never bottom balanced. The cells were simply installed in the car as received from the manufacturer, strapped up, and charged with the BRUSA NLG511 charger.

One thing that jumped out at me was that the first 10 cells were noticeably lower than the rest, but not randomly so. It almost looked like the first 10 were different. A graph of this makes it clearer.

 

Initially I thought it might have something to do with cooling and air flow since they were all in the front, but there were actually 12 cells in front, not 10.

Then I remembered the Xantrex episode. We had used a TBS Expert Pro on the Mini Cooper and powered it with the first 10 cells. The unit draws less than 60 ma so how much damage can it do to a 100AH pack? Well plenty as it turns out. It’s on 24×7 and after a couple of months, they were 10 AH down. Then I recalled that Duane had been following our progress on this and had replicated our mistake. Eventually he also replicated the solution – a voltage divider across the entire pack. We’ve since moved to DC-DC converters actually. But the cells remained slightly drained from the originals that hadn’t had that treatment.

About 15 amps for 5 minutes dressed it all up. Cell 28 was also a spot down so it got 30 seconds.

That was the fix.

We just flat did not do a show during Thanksgiving week. We have a lot going on with the Mini Cooper, but I’ve also taken THAT battery pack down to parade rest and we are wanting to look at all the cells while we have it down. That will take some effort as they are much harder to get to than our other cars. Thank goodness I let Brain talk me into the $550 rail/drawer system for the box inside or it would really be difficult. Anyway, we’re going to measure all of them this week and tighten all the connections while we’re there.

The Rinehart controller has been interesting. It has fought us every step of the way, but I think it’s going to get there on the 2009 Mini Cooper Clubman. First, they gave us the wrong motor type code by accident and it did NOT run very well. That fixed, we found an even more unnerving issue. When in electronic REVERSE, if you step on the BRAKE it ACCELERATES the car. It’s a little counterintuitive to get it to stop too – let off the brake and sieze the hand brake and haul in on it with all your strength. THAT was exciting. But again, it’s simply a software problem and Chris Brune has been very communicative. We isolated it to just REVERSE and he was able to forward us new firmware WITHOUT this little feature literally within four or five hours. That’s why they call it software.

The controller is clearly in the prototype area. The hardware design is very attractive. And I’m getting accustomed to the software to configure it. It’s actually not bad. The controller is limited to 300 AMPS at up to 360V whereas the TIMS600 was 400A at up to 400V. So it’s a bit tamer in actual operation. But that’s not entirely a bad thing. As I’ve preached numerous times, and to little effect with all the power worshipping gearheads, sometimes more is just more. I confess I liked the responsiveness of the TIMS600. But the Rinehart drives the car very nicely and with nothing to apologize for. We’re doing more in 2nd gear that we used to do in 3rd – we have the luxury of 6 gears to choose from and so that’s all good. It’s running nicely at the moment. We are chasing a little gremlin where the controller cuts out entirely. But I think we have traced it to a cable beneath our own 12v DC-DC converter that had worn a spot through to the case and was intermittently shorting the 12v bus – cutting out the contactor.

Chasing intermittents is always interesting because they are, well, intermittent. So if you do something, and it appears to fix it, that’s all good unless it was just occupying the good part of the “intermittent” curve by coincidence. But I really do think we have this one.

So we went on strike this week on video and we’ll cover all that next week, after we are a little smarter. The time off has given me time to play with a back burner project that is kinda cool, and a bit frustrating. I’m doing it on a Mac OS X machine in Objective C using Xcode and the Interface Builder. This is it’s own little world of madness. Mac guys have always been on the EXTREME end of weird. Mostly, they know NOTHING about computers or software design yet somehow manage to achieve superstardom as DIVAS of software design. Just reading the books on the topic is a horror – page after page after page of trivial piff and tosh about absolutely NOTHING all to carry a bare structure of a little bit of information about the system. The information density is EXTREMELY low.

Objective C holds to the hide. It is inherited from NextStep – the OS Steve Jobs made Apple buy as part of his return from the wilderness. The NeXT computer was actually quite interesting in its day. But Objective C is a very strange language. All Object oriented software traces its roots to SmallTalk and LIsp – two very early experiments in object oriented design. Ultimately, C++ and Java emerged as more mature views of this concept. Objective – C is a more direct decendant of SmallTalk. Everything is an object, and it all works on “messages” between objects. The syntactic form of Object.Property that works so well in C++ is replaced by inverted looking messages such as [Object propertyGetter: this one] that I think is just ridiculous on the face of it. You can stack all of this inside bracket set after bracket set. You wind up with programs that are quite short, but with 200 character lines.

And the back and forth between the IDE and the programmatics is just hopeless.

But oddly, you can come up with a reasonably good result in a fairly short period of time, and I suppose that of course gains with familiarity. A lot of iPhone development is going on this way.

In any event, I’ve been trying to develop a display program that in fairly modular fashion can access serial data streams, and use them to calculate EV interesting things, and then display them in some rational form. So far, I have a Roving Networks Sensor that has 8 16-bit A/D converters in it and reports all the results over bluetooth wireless. I can use this to measure currents and voltages without the usual isolation issues. Then, I have a cheap $36 Globalsat BU 335 GPS unit plugged into the USB port, converted to a serial port with a driver. And I can capture GPS streams.

This gives me speed and its integral, distance.

So I’m trying to glom all that together into something responsive enough and attractive enough to serve as an instrumentation system. But wiring up hardware for it, writing software for it, and learning an entirely new to me operating system and programming language is a bit of a stretch. If I could do just that, I think it would all be cool. But to build EV’s, videorecord THAT, edit THOSE and work on a way to display them globally where anyone could actually download one, kind of limits the time I can spend with such programming projects.

In any event, here are a couple of screen captures to show some progress. I’m actually having a lot of fun with it….

 

Regards;
Jack Rickard
http://EVTV.me

28 thoughts on “Turkey Day and Spyder 550 Battery Balance”

  1. Hello –
    My lead battery pack is on it’s last leg, and I found your website searching for litium info.

    This may be a bit less fancy than you are aiming for, but I designed and built a battery monitor back in 2004 that measures voltage of each cell, total pack voltage, and current. It gives a visible warning if any battery is over or under voltage – i then let off the accel. It also will collect data while charging.

    Anyway, I made the whole design available free here:

    http://home.earthlink.net/~evtkw/evbattmon.html

    It may be less than you are looking for, but you may be able to find some information of use. I have found it to be quite useful for monitoring my batteries and “limping” home when my weakest battery is getting low.

  2. Hey Jack,

    Happy Thanksgiving. Anyway. It seems that the newer ’04-’10 prius uses an electrically driven compressor for AC and heating powered by the 200ish volt traction battery. I wonder if that could be used to get your air conditioning. See http://www.autoshop101.com/forms/Hybrid18.pdf for a brief description of the system. Maybe combine this with a reversing valve for a total heating and cooling solution. Just a thought. Anyway, look forward to the next video!

  3. Jack, I hate you. I was getting worried! 🙁

    On to those Maccy thingies. Isn’t the window manager for the Mac based on NeXtstep and the o/s based on BSD?

    Objective C (to me) is the best choice of software for your purpose.

    If required, I’d have a trawl of Sourceforge or Freshmeat for useful ideas and programs:
    iLazy, iLove to iPlaguerise, iLive off the iMistakes of iOthers and iWheels have been iNvented already. :))

    I love what you are doing here. Keeping the display small? Drop your iPhone in and you have an instant car key, clocks, logger, music player, maybe a built in phone!

    The many goodies people will prefer on a larger, fitted screen would be not only clocks but live mapping against pre-drawn comparison charts of motors (spd/load/eff%) and battery discharge curves.

    This can get really silly-wish list here! Hope you all can understand my form of English.

    GPS maps logging w/h/miles over traveled roads.

    Visual guidance to lowest batteries on discharge and highest individual voltages on charge; might save good money in the long term.

    Could build from an old laptop. Connect RS232/lan to the motor controller.

    Use a webcam for reverse.

    An Infra Red cam to see ahead clearly in deep darkness and or fog if the screen reflects off the windscreen for a heads up display! An old laptop will save a good bit of cash!

    I would be tempted to have the readouts set in a concentric manner (Curved bar). i.e. Comparing standard Motor load against vehicle speed to aid efficient driving.

    Oh, and selectable colours and backgrounds to suit the eye, the car and the mood. i.e. Red does not affect the iris in the dark.

    Should go find my old logic stencils. And start drawing circuit blocks. Not going to sleep tonight! :)))

  4. nteresting. So the bit o badly done software caught the attention and the battery graphs and video missed?

    Ok. Well, yes Corbin/Andyj, I have a million Objective C questions of course.

    First, how do I change the background color of the window. And second, how do I ditch the window entirely. I’d like to use the Desktop as the background and just float all these widgets on that instead of using a Window. The config screen would be a window, but beyond that, I don’t like Windoze, which is why I use a Mac or Ubuntu.

    Yes, the OS is essentially spawned from the Berkeley distribution. NeXTStep was the windowing environment and appears to be the Objective C as EVERY NSfreakin NSThing has to NSStart with an NSNS.

    Right now, it is running on a MacAir. I had iPhone aspirations but have given them up for Lent actually. There is a very bizarre thing going on inside of Apple that I can only surmise has something to do with Digital Rights Management. In any event, they build perfectly good stuff and then lock developers out of it. Case in point is true bluetooth functionality in the SDK. No reason given, you just can’t do that. We won’t let you.

    There is a growing surge toward the Android and with good cause – crap like that. I have bought an HTC EVO on a Sprint contract and I’m kind of liking both. Sprint has a better network here locally. I can use the phone as an 8 port Wireless Hub actually. And the OS and all the hardware features are pretty much open. Samsung has a Galaxy tablet coming that should work pretty well as an iPad killer. I think Apple has painted itself in a corner with a bunch of contractual obligations over the iTunes business and it is putting them at war with their own developers and users – VERY ironic given the early commercials posing Microsoft as the Evil Empire. It seems Apple is assuming that role even BEFORE dethroning Microsoft – with a 17 share no less.

    So I’m feeling the winds change toward Android.

    Right now the software is developed on a MacPro and runing in the garage on a MacAir. It does require some hardware. The GPS is a little $36 Globalsat BU-353 and the voltage/current is a little mess I cobbled together around a Roving NEtworks Blue Sensor and a LEM HAAS 200S.

    Hopefully, I can add a third stream out of the Curtis 1238 or the EVnetics Solition1 and ideally ditch the Roving Networks sensor box in the end. That will give me some temperatures as well.

    But yes, I’ve developed software before and the exciting but challenging part is that as soon as you see it work, you start seeing OTHER things it should be doing. Zigbee for cell monitoring perhaps. OBDII. And endless stream of controllers with NO standard language, It will never end.

    But yeah, skins are a bit obvious. Once you have all the data onboard, what color the dial is doesnt’ matter much.

    It is true I’ve been playing with a Mini and a laser projection system. What would be very cool to me is a small screen embed on TOP of the dash pointing up into the windshield for HUD. There are some issues. Of course.

    Jack

  5. Transparent background on an iphone:
    cell (or table, woteva)*.backgroundColor=[UIColor clearColor]

    I’m well out of tune with any programming these days. My last efforts were simple bash scripts.

    Programming computers is why we have kids.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pe6yMxNxtng

    If you like Ubuntu, you might prefer Mint Linux because it is the same. Except the code is (mostly) fixed.

    however, Jack. I once made a simple heads up display to visually point a telescope. So easy! It was a simple red-led backlit bulls eye behind a lens to focus with distance vision. Combining the image to the background by reflecting off a piece of glass at 45Deg.

    Lets do no harm. Keeping each step simple. One step at a time eh? 🙂

  6. not to distract from the display programming methods,
    but I was wondering, for both packs, what is your “bottom of the stack”?
    And how do you run the cars down to the bottom? Do you have to programm different cutoff voltages on the controller or do you actually drive until your display shows a cutoff voltage of your liking and then stop?
    And then, if I understood correctly, you slowly charged the Speedsters pack and it displayed no signs of immediate damage?

    Philip

  7. Running to a stop without immediate cell damage… very impressive! Has a BMS vendor ever demo’d the same thing? Teslas have done such things, but what about the conversion market BMSs?

    On a different topic, the cat might have more sense than the humans — the cat ran for safety when the wheels started turning. Humans standing in front of a car with the wheels spinning whilst discussing the dangers of standing in front of a car with the wheels spinning? Was this an attempt at dark humor?

    BTW, a spinning wheel videos better from the side — it’s more obvious it is spinning, and how fast, watching the wheels spokes rather than the tread.

  8. Anonymous and others! I’m new on here but learned a lot already by listening.

    last posters question:
    Std. 6 Speed Mini top speed ~120mph @ 7,000rpm?
    Therefore half as fast 3rd gear @ 2,000rpm has a wheel speed of ~17mph but does it matter?

    The safety valve against over discharging here seems to be off the overall average.

    Bottom balancing is Mr. Rickards way to have all the batts bottoming out at the same time and to hell with charging to the nth degree on top voltage where little gain is to be had.

  9. Jack,

    Nice work on the display. Thanks for all the info here, especially about the Rinehart controller. I was wondering also why there is no video this week because I was waiting for the results of the mini cooper test. Anyway, a belated thanksgiving and one thing to thank about is that your shop did not burned down with those “battery-burning” tests that happened this year!

    JohnM

  10. Hi, regarding battery balancing – I got a (strange?) idea:
    Would it be possible to balance batteries by connecting them all in parallel through resistors, forming a “ledger”. Power would go from batteries with higher voltage to batteries with lower voltage.
    Then, let’s assume we are discharging such a parallel-connected batteries, reaching bottom-balancing in the end.
    Would it work?

  11. @ohm: That will work but it might take a bit to get a load which will handle a high current at ~3v to discharge them. In my case I have 40 cells at 100Ah each. A parallel string would be 4000Ah to discharge. At 100A it would take 40 hours. It was easier for me to build a load bank out of a parallel set of high wattage light bulbs and discharge the whole string. Even a 20A load would take only about 5 hours. Once the first battery nears your bottom cutoff point where the voltage difference is very small still you could then put them all in parallel and finish your balancing that way. It would save quite a bit of time.

  12. Connecting all the batteries in series while they are all connected in parallel at the same time will soon make you change your mind. Hehe.

    Disconnecting all the batteries to rewire them in parallel just for (dis)charging will be as pleasurable as platting poo.

    I’ve said before, I like Jacks idea of singly charging the lowest voltage batteries to meet the others – while all the others are low. It is the simplest method once installed.

    A not so good and less fancy way than full blown monitoring with one advantage: 30A wire from each link and a remote multi pin connector block with LED indication in line to easily see which is low. One can “up” each low battery by hand Until the LED is (un)lit.

    When are you going to hotrod that van into a love machine for young Matt? >:-))

  13. Andyj:

    We have learned a couple of valuable lessons just recently, but they only reiterate what we’ve learned before. The latest is we left a VERY benign little device connected to the Mini Cooper pack – a pair of cell log 8S units used in the RC helicopter arena to monitor up to 8 cell voltages. A $29 device with 9 wires each.

    But if you leave it HOOKED UP to yourpack, it can be a problem. This device caused a small insulation fire in the original speedster, and now it has killed several cells in the Mini Cooper. We are learning that parasitic loads, no matter how tiny and how benign, over time at 24×7 DO lead to cell imbalance and at low pack levels, cell reversal and death.

    We had also wired up the Mini Cooper for the ABILITY to monitor cells with a wire to each and every terminal, using very expensive and sturdy MILSPEC amphenal barrel connectors. IT’s ALL coming out of the car this week. It is ALL dangerous.

    EVERY attempt we’ve made at “kinda/sorta” instrumenting these cells to protect them has instead DAMAGED them. The LESS you do with these cells, the safer they are. At this point I am convinced that the BMS and instrumentation attempts do more damage than the protection they offer.

    We do NOT normally bottom balance packs. They arrive from the factory QUITE balanced and this week we also determined that the CALB cells at least arrive at precisely 50% SOC. They do not deteriorate or discharge over time and in storage AT ALL.

    We are bottom balancing the MINI today because we have had to replace several cells because of the Cell Log 8S. Once the cells are in use, it is very difficult to determine precise state of charge information to marry in new cells. It is easier to bottom balance than anything else. (Well TOP balancing is the EASIEST and the LEAST useful.).

    So we advocate installing them at the 50% SOC received from the factory and to treat the pack as a unit. Make very sure that ANY load on the pack is applied to the ENTIRE pack and not portions of it – NO MATTER HOW LOW LEVEL THE LOAD. It IS cummulative.

    In events requiring remedial work, you pretty much have to bottom balance, a very tedious procedure but necessary.

    We are actively REMOVING such wires as you suggest, and will never install them in a car in the future even for experimental purposes.

    We’ve learned a lot.

    Jack

  14. Hi Jack, Brian, and Matt,

    I’m one of those guys who has downloaded and watched (sometimes multiple times, and yes, sometimes the battery shows multiple times) every single one of your shows. I’ve been sort lurking around the blog, watching the banter about balancing, BMS, EV market forces, conversion vs. production, etc., and really found it all very fascinating. Of course, I’ve also submitted my proposal to the Great EV Conversion Sweepstakes, so I’m eagerly awaiting the selection process as I’m sure are many who lurk around here.

    My wife caught an interview on Charlie Rose of a gentleman named Shai Agassi who has put together a company called Better Place. This company has developed a plan to convert entire countries to EVs that seems to address the issues you have brought up regarding mass appeal: range anxiety, style, convenience, and best of all, price. According to the interview (http://www.charlierose.com/view/interview/11323) they have raised the capital, found an auto supplier (Renault of Nissan/Renault with our friend Carlos Ghosn), and are currently installing their system in Israel, who passed the tax legistlation to finance the whole deal. In essence, they are treating the batteries like oil; when you get low on power you pull into the battery station on your way to work, and drive out 2 minutes later with a “fueled” battery. The whole process is automated and pretty slick to watch in a video on their site:
    http://www.betterplace.com/the-solution-switch-stations.

    I’m wondering if you’ve heard of this company and their plans, and if you would be willing to spend some time in an upcoming video giving your opinion about the viability of their ideas.

    Thank you so much for all of your contributions to change-making, it’s a blast watching you guys doing everyday what I wish I be doing!

    Best,
    Alex Vieira

  15. Sorry, I forgot to add that they have also developed two types of charging stations, since they believe most refueling will still happen at home. One type can reside, say, in your garage, and the other has been developed, if I understand correctly, for businesses to offer for customer use while shopping, dining, etc.

    Also, they seem to get that EVs will need to be cheaper than current ICE counterparts to gain mass appeal. So their car/battery system basically subtracts the cost of the battery from the car and you pay for the battery as you use it, just like we currently do with oil. According to their plan this makes the cars without the battery much cheaper to purchase.

    Note that I used “developed” for the chargers above. They producing their swapping stations, but they don’t seem to be producing the home/business chargers quite yet.

    Best,
    Alex

  16. Hi Jack,

    All of you conversions are done wit the LiFePO4 batteries standing upright. Have you attempted or tried to do one with the battery lying on its side? I asked this because I noticed from a very recent how-to-manufacture-LEAF video that their prismatic batteries (similar to what’s in the VOLT) are installed horizontally. This arrangement frees up the trunk and the passenger seat space, which is not the case with the volt because their batteries are standing upright.

    JohnM

  17. Alex,
    I have strong feelings about Better Place, I want no part of them. They do only one thing, make owning an EV more expensive. You buy into their program so they can make a profit. They are not EV builders, battery builders, or electricity providers. Their swap concept will require extra batteries to be available stashed at various places, which means the most expensive part of an EV must be multiplied. You will pay a premium to charge your vehicle, instead of charging cheaply at home 99% of the time. His concept is flawed and totally unnecessary. He’s pushing it in small countries and islands where you can already travel the entire length on a single charge. As pack sizes increase and fast charge stations are built there will be no reason to swap a pack and no reason to buy into their overpriced shell game.

    JRP3

  18. I’m afraid I have to agree with JRP. The Better Place concept is indeed to replace oil, and their pricing is designed so that you pay the same for batteries as you did for gasoline. This is why he can attract a lot of startup capital. He would get a “recurring revenue” on every electric car.

    The standardization of the battery requires some severe constraints on your car design, to accommodate the battery swap. This is the problem with standardized large cell packs in general.

    And finally, it is entirely unnecessary. We already have the technology to charge cells in 20 minutes with ChaDemo type devices that can put out up to 400 v at up to 300 amps. Our cells ALREADY are quite capable of this.

    It’s a fatally flawed concept, destined to be an orphan. It is so obviously flawed, I haven’t thought it necessary to deal with it on video. Just not a player – ever.

    Jack

  19. Interesting comments, thanks for replying. I scoured their site pretty closely but found no mention of the cost of a battery swap, but both of you seem to know that it will be just as expensive as a fill-up at a gas station. Just curious where you read that.
    My opinion is that this idea could not be implemented in the US before the quick-charging technology presented an easier and more viable option; we’re too large, too slow to adopt new technology, too endeared with “variety” in our car stylings which makes battery standardization impossible, really just a ton of reasons it won’t catch on here. But, Jack, when they’ve actually broken ground in two countries, it really just isn’t accurate to call them “fatally flawed”. I mean, they ARE a player, they ARE playing, they ARE building. Just not here, and probably never in the US. But even if the idea never comes here, if they are even modestly successful in countries like Israel and Denmark, that could be a game-changer for attitudes about EVs in this country. This is good PR for EVs, and I’m glad to see a company be successful. Everyone knows that the early adopters (countries and not people in this case) of a new technology pay more than the mainstream later on, and get an inferior product. But before economies of scale come into play, how can it be any other way?

    So, I think any nationally integrated system is WAY off in the future for the US, if ever. I want an EV solution sooner, and I think that Jack’s leading the way toward the only immediately viable solution: conversions.

    BTW, JRP, what country are you from?

    Best,
    Alex

  20. From what I’ve learned about the Better Place plan, I’ve mostly liked. The intent is to cause a rapid shift to EVs; not to take 10 yrs to get to 2 million sold like the Prius but to match the sales of new petrol cars in about 10 years – VERY ambitious.
    The idea is to match the convenience of petrol cars while hopefully saving money and reducing oil dependence. I think the plan is viable anyway although the low price of petrol in America makes for a more difficult sell.
    I see a lot of comments about the “cost” of a battery swap but it’s a service that Better Place will provide when you lease a battery from them.
    I don’t understand why you would think this is a scam – this is a comprehensive plan. Here’s a long presentation that Agassi gave in Australia:
    http://fora.tv/2009/07/22/The_Electric_Horizon_Shai_Agassi#fullprogram

  21. Shai Agassi and Better Place is a plan, a plan to gain a recurrent revenue stream from electric cars quite like the oil companies have from petrol vehicles. I am astounded by how much press this guy has gotten from a truly idiotic concept.

    First, cars are very specialized devices, and a one size fits all battery won’t work physically. Second, they have various drive trains and a one size fits all battery won’t work electrically. Finally, why would I want to lease a battery system at such a ridiculous set of financials?

    Better Place is designed to be a better place to invest in order to cash in on interest in electric vehicles. The battery swap is just a ridiculous idea and a total financial sink hole. ChaDemo style quick charge stations would cost 1/10th what his “swap station” does and would be more than adequate for intercity travel. ANd the system just isn’t needed at all for local travel.

    You could pay 10x the going rate for electricity at a fast charge station and still be at 1/10th the cost of this battery swap thing, with a 20-30 minute charging delay. So the only ones this makes any sense for is Agassi and company.

    If I were only to attempt a design of a car with two battery packs and had all day to change them in my own garage, this just makes no engineering sense at all. So why would it on a massive scale?

    I cannot believe this concept doesn’t die of its own obvious shortcomings. But he keeps the ball in the air and something in the press pretty much weekly.

    Jack RIckard

  22. From various talks, he’s made it clear that the stations can and will accomodate different batteries. Having to stop 2 or 3 times each way for 20-30 minutes on a twice monthly long distance commute doesn’t make sense for me.
    You’re not paying at the swap station, you get a monthly bill that includes the lease cost of the battery, which is still the single most expensive component of the car. His business case is that separating the car cost from the battery benefits the consumer. Much easier for his company in Europe; US (artificially?) low gas prices may not make his model viable.

  23. Jack Rickard, I’m very impressed by your cool videos, but your opinion on Better Place disappoints me.

    I think all EV batteries should be standardized and swappable. The battery swap stations can accomodate different sizes and types of batteries.

    The idea is that people can pay less than a gas powered car for an electric car and only have to pay a monthly fee based on how much they use their car (like a cell phone plan). Better Place’s promise is that the price will not be more than current gas prices, that includes battery, as many battery swaps as you want, and guaranteed renewable energy recharging at your home, at your work place and at a shopping center. Better Place in collaboration with the utilities does the installation of those charge points, and their plan is to cover the whole world with these charge points.

    The fast charge 400v sounds great, but I also heard it’s unsafe technology, unstable, and I don’t see why Better Place cannot be compatible with future faster charging systems and they automatically swap in newer higher capacity batteries once those become available.

  24. Nicolas, You can have your better place, but I agree with Jack….it is a terrible idea for the US market. It’s just a way for somebody to try and make a bunch of money. CHAdeMO is perfectly safe and easily implemented, it does not take much more time than the swap. Battery swapping is great for a business with a fleet of EV’s where one person/company owns all the cars and the batteries and is performing the swaps.

  25. Nicolas, why would I want to swap batteries at a cost potentially the same as driving my ICE? Look at any supply chain. The more “middle men” in the chain the more expensive the product is out the other end. How do you think Better Place plans to stay in business? If you could survey all regular drivers of EVs I’m sure you would find out that the vast majority of them don’t want battery swapping. I know I don’t.

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