I just read about your new Honda Fit EV, and let me tell you as a happy ‘09 Fit owner, this sounds amazing. However, the major barrier for me (and I would assume other people as well) to buying this car (or any other EV for that matter, money aside) is the combination of low range per charge and large time investment required to re-charge a depleted battery. Seventy-six miles on one charge and three hours to charge it? Yeah, this is great for city driving only, but if I want to take a trip somewhere I need to get a gas car.
That gave me an idea. The main reason people will continue buying gasoline-powered cars is because for a few minutes and some money, they can completely replenish their vehicle’s range. What if you could duplicate this experience with EVs?
My background is in web development, so I’m very hip to the notion of standards. What if you and the other major car manufacturers got together and came up with some sort of standard? Say, a casing standard or power standard, or I don’t know, I’m not a mechanical engineer, but some standard where every EV, regardless of manufacturer, could pull into a “gas” station, pay the station some variable amount of money (say, whatever electricity costs them at the moment to fully charge a battery plus some profit percentage), and have them pop the depleted battery out and replace it with a fully- or partially-charged one.
The network for this already exists. Every gas station could potentially buy (or you could lease to them), say, 10 batteries to swap into a needy vehicle. Since fully-charged batteries wouldn’t always be available, a user could just pay for however much the battery is recharged. Since most people would be charging their vehicles at home anyways, a gas station wouldn’t have to perform this service more than a few times a day, but they could still make money off of it.
This has other benefits as well. Instead of trying to always increase the range of a vehicle based on battery size, you can start to focus more on making it more battery-efficient. Also, if you wanted to, you could sell extra batteries to consumers so that they could carry one in their car to pop in and out themselves for longer trips!
I understand that this is not actually that novel of an idea. People have been doing this for decades with AAs and AAAs etc. The size, output, connectors, shapes, etc of these batteries are all based on an accepted standard adhered to by all product and battery manufacturers. Sure, it would take you out of the battery business, but you’re not really in the battery business to begin with, and think of the industry you would help create. It would relieve you of paying for R & D on making better batteries because someone else would be doing it for a profit, and all you can do is benefit from it.
If this became a reality, you would see an enormous adoption of EVs because range would become a non-issue. People would still be charging at home, but if they wanted to take longer trips, long recharge times would no longer be a barrier. I know that right now the battery technology just isn’t there to make it small enough for this to be possible, but you should definitely consider this for future iterations of EVs.
And you would also get repeat business from me ;)