rexcritchlow

Thoughts from the "King of the Hill"

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Posts Tagged ‘electric cars’

A Better Idea Than Charging Stations for Electric Cars

Posted by Rex Critchlow on August 21, 2011


I’ve noticed in the UK that they are working on a national effort to install “charging stations” across the country for those that drive electric cars. I guess the idea is that if someone is driving more than the current 100 mile (160 km) range of the present-day electric car, one can stop and recharge the battery.  Here in the US, estimates (planetgreen.com) claims that it will cost between $2 and $4 per full charge.

Just for fun, lets compare the cost of driving an EV (electric vehicle) to a gas powered vehicle. Lets assume you drive a newer model mid-size sedan that gets 34 MPG. With a 12-gallon tank, you can go about 408 miles per tank. A refill @ 3.29 (the average price around Montgomery Alabama today – 8/21/2011) will run you about forty bucks and take about fifteen minutes. To recharge the EV you will spend between $8 and $16 and take thirty-two hours. I guess if “Time is Money” then it depends on what that 32 hours is worth to you. Of course you can do other things – you just can’t go anywhere to do it.

There has to be a better way! What if you could simply pay $10 “at the pump” and get a gull charge in ten minutes or less? Then this idea is for you. Let’s apply the same solution to EV’s as we did to computer systems (excluding, of course, Apple products). Standardize. Here’s how my plan would work.

1. All EV’s batteries need to be standardized. Look at your gas powered vehicle (GPV) battery choices – there are a ton of them…I won’t even begin to list the variations. If we had a consortium that standardized EV batteries, the cost of the batteries would drop dramatically, making the cost of the vehicle far less than it is today. Of course there would be Gen 1, Gen 2, etc. as tome passes, and your EV would (or at least should) be able to upgrade as the new batteries come out.

2. With standardized batteries we will implement standardized connectivity – just like on GPV’s (we all use the same gas pumps and fill via the same sized fill port on the car. With EV’s, the ‘fill port’ would actually be an electronically controlled access panel on the outside of the car – just like the gas fill cover – except this one opens via a remote signal instead of manually opening the cover.

3. Power stations (like a gas station) have a place to pull your vehicle to be serviced (filled with gas) except the Power Station is a robotic station that reads an RFID chip on your car that identifies the make and model (and optionally the VIN – see the section on Protecting my Battery below). The robot reads the RFID chip and, via the database, knows the exact dimensions of the car and the location of the battery panel. Using a Red/Green light system, helps you to properly park the car. The robot then waits for payment – cash, credit card, etc. Once paid, the robot opens the panel, extracts the existing battery and sends it into the charging compartment of the station. Retrieves a fully charged battery, inserts it into your car, closes the door, and away you go – Fully charged and ready for your next hundred mules. Total time of exchange, about five to ten minutes.

4. Power Stations can be designed in different configurations for numbers of service-bots and battery capacity. For example, a roadside station in the middle of Kansas may only need to service one EV at a time, but have capacity for 50 or more batteries, while an EV in Baton may need to service twenty or more vehicles simultaneously and hold 1000+ batteries. It will take some time to determine a formula for what type of station is needed in which environment – especially since the number of EV’s on the road today is far less than the number in, say, ten years.

Protecting my Battery: With remote controlled access panels, and the way society is today, there will need to be some sort of security to protect from theft. A simple, voluntary national database that tracks which battery is in which EV would go a long way to preventing theft. Anyone in the business of buying or recycling EV batteries could be required to check the serial number against the national database to see the status of the battery.

The rest, I think you can figure out on your own. I’d like your feedback in the form of comments and/or vote on my poll. Thank you.

 

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