2023 Author: Eric Donovan | [email protected]. Last modified: 2023-05-21 15:44
The first battery exchange station for electric cars has opened in Copenhagen. Better Place promises that the exchange campaign will take just three minutes. Renault speaks of a revolution.
By Markus Henrichs
The first European battery changing station for electric cars has now been opened by the Californian company Better Place in Copenhagen, Denmark. The principle sounds very simple - and almost too good to be true: "Drive, Switch, Go". In other words: Go ahead, swap and continue with fully charged batteries. The station is visually reminiscent of a futuristic car wash and does not take up much more space than a conventional gas station. The driver should park his car there and not have to worry about anything. The rest of the work is done by the hardworking metal hands of the robot, which is always on duty. The entire exchange process should take just three minutes before the electric car driver can continue his journey with fresh batteries.
Renault speaks of revolution
However, this does not help the electric vehicle enthusiast, who is far away from home and the next changing station, at first. In order to avoid getting stuck with discharged storage tanks, the Californians rely on the dialogue between driver and vehicle: If the battery charge slowly runs out, the driver receives an early notification via the central vehicle display and at the same time the navigation system shows the way to the next changing station. Future music? Not if the people in charge at Renault-Nissan have their way. Nicolas Remise, director of the Renault Fluence ZE project, is already raving about a "real revolution" and about "electric cars with unlimited range".
The idea of the "stagecoach principle" is not new. In the 1990s, Opel and Deutsche Post also experimented with an interchangeable battery system for the Combo delivery van, but quickly discarded the plans for practical reasons: the electrical and coolant connections had to be loosened and reattached by hand. The employees had a lot of mass to move. Since the lithium-ion batteries weigh two to three hundred kilograms, the whole procedure can be compared in terms of effort to replacing the motor rather than washing.
What is special about the "Quick-Drop" station, which is now being presented in Denmark: It does this heavy work fully automatically. The electric car drives on a kind of bridge under which two sledges move on rails. The first is placed under the vehicle and unlocks the holder for the batteries in the underbody. The storage is then transported to a charging station. At the same time, the second slide delivers the full battery for automatic assembly.
The driver stays in the car
The advantage for the customer: Similar to the car wash, he can stay in the car and drive off again immediately after changing. But the disadvantages are also obvious: All other manufacturers of electric cars rely on charging at the home socket, at a charging station or by induction coil. There are currently no uniform battery standards. However, in the "Easybat" consortium, in addition to Better Place and Renault, automotive suppliers Continental, TÜV Rheinland and various research institutions are working on the standardization of connections and components.
Nevertheless, the "battery-change-yourself-idea" is more than a mental game: In the next nine months, 19 additional exchange stations are to be built in Denmark. The first electric car that will drive up there in the course of this year to replace the battery is the five-seater Renault Fluence ZE, an electric sedan with a speed of up to 135 km / h with 70 kW / 95 PS. This car should cost the equivalent of 27,500 euros in the neighboring country. There is also a monthly leasing rate for the batteries, which, depending on the distance traveled, is between 199 euros and 399 euros for a maximum of 40,000 kilometers. However, setting up a global network of exchange stations is likely to consume significantly more money. So that the system really asserts itself and can be financed,all manufacturers would have to pull together and bring future markets such as China or India on board. But it doesn't look like that at the moment. (mid)