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Project Better Place

Discussion in 'Electric Vehicles' started by tonybelding, Oct 29, 2007.

  1. tonybelding

    tonybelding Active Member

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    Shai Agassi's company finally has a name! It's "Project Better Place" -- as in, making the world a better place. (It's too bad "Feel Good Cars" was already taken, don't you think?)

    Also, it turns out that PBP isn't a car company. Instead their goal is to set up networks of charging stations and battery-exchange stations in urban areas.

    We’re basically saying this is just like the cellular phone model,” he said. “If you think of Tesla as the iPhone, we’re AT&T.

    Here's the company website:

    http://www.projectbetterplace.com/

    Here are some articles:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2007/10/29/technology/29agassi.html

    http://www.businessweek.com/bwdaily/dnflash/content/oct2007/db20071027_825187.htm

    http://www.tmcnet.com/usubmit/-shai-agassi-launches-alternative-transportation-venture-/2007/10/29/3050233.htm

    Note the NYT article which incorrectly -- and infuriatingly -- blames Tesla's delays on problems with the battery pack. As far as I can tell, the ESS has been about the most trouble-free component in the car.
     
  2. TEG

    TEG TMC Moderator

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    That sounds like a tough business model. If we had a lot of EV users clamoring for recharging spots and replacement batteries then I could see the need, but it sounds like a chicken and egg problem right now. They are going to be competing with people who already can do recharging at home.

    Good luck to them.

    Perhaps if they have Tesla Roadsters for lease, I might find them useful!
     
  3. TEG

    TEG TMC Moderator

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    Perhaps Tesla's success with the VCs has caught the eye of other "serial entrepreneurs?"

    By the way, Google has been soliciting proposals for plug-in hybrid projects to fund.
     
  4. Brent

    Brent Member

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    Based on what I read, it seems he wants to attack the battery problem largely from the swap angle, but also set up a recharge network. Perhaps he's hedging his bets.

    I think he has several huge challenges ahead:

    1) Convincing auto makers to go electric;

    2) Convincing auto makers to use his standard, rather than whatever they come up with;

    3) Convincing auto makers that they can design a safe car that can allow for quick changes of batteries that are heavy, cumbersome, and possibly lethal;

    4) Convincing drivers to recharge at his stations rather than at home, hotels, or elsewhere;

    5) etc...

    Like TEG, I wish him well, but I wonder whether he is crossing the bridge before he comes to it...
     
  5. DDB

    DDB Member

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    Why not invest the $200m in quick-charging batteries? Sounds like a hell of a lot better plan than revamping all of the infrastructure.

    From what I understand, this business model is not meant for the US anyhow...It sounds someone plausible in Israel or other densely packed country. I think those VC dollars would do much better in another company, like ZAP--what does that tell you about what this investor thinks of the idea?
     
  6. SByer

    SByer '08 #383

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    Because charging any faster than Tesla's 3.5 hours won't work without major infrastructure improvements - Tesla is already pushing home charging about as hard as they can. To charge any faster starts requiring significant changes or improvements in cabling, thermal management, and electrical supply capacity.

    I also think it's the wrong end of the equation to work on for BEVs - if you can work on the range enough, then the need to quick charge essentially goes away, and just having in place a matrix of potential overnight charging spots fills out the picture better than any attempt at coming up with a standard for quick-exchange batteries.

    -Scott
     
  7. mt2

    mt2 Member

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    Agreed. building gas stations 100 years ago made sense because there was a need, a standard delivery mechanism (a hose), and no existing infrastructure. Building an infrastructure to deliver electricity to cars today doesn't make sense to me. At best, you'll get 25 years out of them and be out of business.
    • The electricity delivery infrastructure in is already expanding to accommodate more than just cars.
    • There is no standard for delivery to the vehicle.
    • There is no standard for quick swap batteries.
    • Residential and community power generation is picking up speed.
    • And vehicle range will only improve.
     
  8. DDB

    DDB Member

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    That sounds like one of those quotes that suggests there can be no more advances in technology because everything has been invented.

    I get that you can't charge your car in ten minutes by plugging into a 220 volt receptical. There are supercaps, which can be used for disbursing lots of energy at once. A combination of a regular battery and supercap may solve the quick charge problem. You could let your home charging station run essentially 24/7 gathering all of the energy needed to charge your EV, then connect the car for a 10 minute fill-up. Do I have a clue how to do it, no. But I'll bet there's some techies out there that do.
     
  9. malcolm

    malcolm Active Member

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    The advantage of slow recharging is reduced energy consumption. At present, a 3.5 hr charge of the 53 kWh ESS requires 70 kWh of energy (32% more energy!). The extra is needed to run the ESS cooling system. Slower charge rates generate less heat and reduce this energy overhead.
     
  10. tonybelding

    tonybelding Active Member

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    It's a question of cost versus benefit.

    Fast charging at home is not a priority, because your car is typically sitting there all night anyhow. So. . . Not much benefit. But the costs of a fast-charge system with some kind of buffer (supercapacitors, flywheels, etc.) and cable as thick as your arm would be much, much higher.

    I feel like the only way fast charging could make economic sense is if you get people to accept cars with smaller batteries and reduced range. If the car's range is 60-100 miles, then charging in five or ten minutes isn't that far-fetched. The cars could be much less expensive. I can imagine lots of these little "city cars" and fast-charging stations deployed around the cities to support them. But then you are getting into the chicken-and-egg problem, because you need both the cars and the charging stations available before it makes much sense.

    Tesla's approach, on the other hand, doesn't rely on the deployment of a big new charging infrastructure. It also doesn't rely on people long accustomed to gasoline cars with 300+ miles range suddenly deciding they can accept 60 or 100 miles.

    With Tesla the downside is the cost of the car. To get that super-long range they have to use a very large and expensive battery, and then offset part of the battery's weight by using expensive materials (carbon fiber!) in the car.

    The other way to go is PHEV, of course -- which is very promising. I think what GM are attempting with the Volt looks quite good.
     
  11. vfx

    vfx Well-Known Member

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    Re: Fast charging

    I'm in the "Hasn't been invented yet" school.

    No one knows what developments are in the lab now. No one knows what Genius is about to have a brain flash that will change the entire battery paradigm.

    Yes, the great next battery has been around the corner for 100 years but compare batteries from 20 years ago and you can see major improvements. The same could be done with charging solutions.

    There have been many times in the past where science has cheated the laws of physics with clever workarounds. The answer might be chemical, mechanical, electrical (!), biological, or E., all of the above.

    Speculation:
    A fat cable at a charging station should be ubiquitous. Maybe the batteries can be “tricked” into charging in parallel to avoid overheating; maybe the batteries are immersed in bacta to stay cool while charging. I also like the not-yet-found amazon bug solution.

    BTW, Utracaps have such a neat name they should be added to and charging mix just for the cool factor
     
  12. tonybelding

    tonybelding Active Member

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    #12 tonybelding, Oct 31, 2007
    Last edited: Oct 31, 2007
    What hasn't been invented yet?

    Batteries? I think the batteries existing today are adequate. They aren't the perfect, ultimate batteries, but they are good enough to proceed with -- and way, way better than lead-acid, which EVs were saddled with for about 100 years.

    It's funny how there are reactionaries in the EV community who seem unhappy about new battery technology. According to the Wikipedia article on the RAV4 EV:

    "A number of electric vehicle advocates voiced disappointment that the choice was made to manufacture only the NiMH version. Many electric vehicle advocates claim that automaker's choice of the NiMH battery worked against the 90's deployment of cost-effective electric vehicles based on PbA batteries, and that further development of Lead-acid technology could result in performance equal to NiMH, but at a substantially lower price."

    Then there's Doug Korthoff who appeared in the Who Killed movie. He's a great advocate of EVs, but the poor guy just won't give it a rest when it comes to NiMH batteries. He's convinced that GM could build the Chevy Volt "today" using NiMH cells, and the fact that they aren't doing so proves they aren't serious about the whole thing. It's just another GM greenwashing smoke screen.

    I tried to explain to him, it takes GM three-to-four years to bring a new car platform from concept to production -- that means any car, even completely conventional ones. Switching from Li-ion to NiMH now wouldn't make it happen any faster, but would make the car less competitive when it hits the market in 2010/2011. Furthermore, in order to use NiMH cells, GM (or their suppliers) would have to challenge Chevron's patents in court.
     
  13. TEG

    TEG TMC Moderator

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    ...Yes... Being a NiMH EV owner, I tried to point out that NiMH is likely to remain cost prohibitive because the rising costs of Nickel, but it didn't seem there is much I could say to change the tune.
    spot-nickel-1y.gif

    The kind of people (me included) who are "bullheaded" enough to buck the trend and be an early adopter of EVs tend to be rather opinionated about things. Tesla seems to be the best hope of breaking through that barrier and finding more mainstream customers who just want in because it is "cool" rather than "different".

    I get the impression that Tesla is trying to ease us into a new mindset of thinking that serial hybrids are a good idea, but I am already convinced and fixated that pure EVs are the answer. Some people are just slow to change direction and hang on to a certain point of view. Others will follow whatever latest marketing is the hip trend of the moment.
     
  14. vfx

    vfx Well-Known Member

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    Tony wrote:

    "What hasn't been invented yet? "

    Think big Tony.

    We don't know what we don't know.
     
  15. Kardax

    Kardax Member

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    All those Chevron NiMH patents are going to expire early next decade, though, so we may see a resurgence of that technology then. Of course, by that time it'll be competing with a variety of advanced lithium-ion-based technologies, among other things.

    The only real certainty is that the EV battery situation is going to look very different 10 years from now than it does today. Building a battery-swap infrastructure today is that much more stupid because of it.

    Chargers could be an ugly standards battle. We know Tesla has their own proprietary connector... the ZEV-mandate-era EVs used their own... who knows what other players will use?

    I don't really care who wins, as long as it's able to automatically negotiate the highest possible wattage, and can also charge my credit card if any fees are necessary.

    -Ryan / Kardax
     
  16. TEG

    TEG TMC Moderator

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    #16 TEG, Nov 6, 2007
    Last edited: May 18, 2008
    Better Place battery swaps

    (topic split off from a different one)
     
  17. TEG

    TEG TMC Moderator

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    #17 TEG, Dec 20, 2007
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 13, 2016
    Better Place video

     
  18. WarpedOne

    WarpedOne Supreme Premier

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    #18 WarpedOne, Dec 20, 2007
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    Hey, this car IS a Renault Laguna II that is currently being phased out and replaced with Laguna III that looks kinda different. Just a coincidence or is it really Renault that big carmaker that is trying to go there?
     
  19. Kardax

    Kardax Member

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    I think I did read somewhere that Renault is the one PBP is working with, so it makes sense that one of their cars would appear in the video.

    It still makes my head spin to think about all the robotic engineering it would take to create an automated battery swapping system that works with more than one model of car...

    -Ryan
     
  20. JRP3

    JRP3 Hyperactive Member

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    Not to mention it's really unnecessary.
     

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