OPINION | Patrick Brower: Fully autonomous modular battery swapping
Grand Enterprise Initiative
As a local resident who truly wants to own an electric car I’ve had to accept several drawbacks about them in a place like Grand County.
First, since I live in Granby, and my work involves a fair amount of driving, I put many miles on my car. But owning an electric car, under the limitations they suffer from now, fills me with anxiety. I would have severe “range anxiety” in my electric car up here. I just don’t think I could go long enough and far enough without having to charge.
And then, well, where would I charge? There are charging stations in Grand County but not all of them are fast chargers and, well, as there are more electric cars on the roads, how long will I have to wait in line for the chargers to be available in the town where I end up?
To add insult to injury, because it’s cold up here, my electric car would have to be heated to a greater degree than electric cars in most markets. Heating the car uses up power (electricity), which in turn would shorten my range even more, creating yet more anxiety.
So I’ve decided not to make the jump to an electric car even though I’d love to, if it was as convenient as my gasoline-powered car.
What I’ve always thought to myself was that if I could be assured that electric cars could charge up on and move on in a way that’s similar to how we do it now with gas stations, then I’d make the jump.
I have friends and acquaintances who swear by their electric cars, including the crew at Mountain Parks Electric. They dismiss my range anxiety and electric-car reluctance as a bunch of needless worry. But like I said, if it can be made as convenient and worry free (relatively) as it is now with my petrol-powered vehicle, then I’d make the jump.
Alas, lo and behold, maybe there’s a solution out there to this problem. There’s a company out there called Ample, which has adopted the business model I have dreamed about for electric cars. This is, rather than taking the time the charge the car when it’s out of charge, why not just go to a place like a filling station now and swap out the dying battery for a freshly-charged, ready-to-go battery.
This would allow a car to be ready to go on electricity in five minutes, let’s say, similar or even less than the time for a gasoline fill-up.
I think it’s a great idea because once it achieves fruition, it would be very similar to just filling up my car at a gas station now. Good bye range anxiety.
This company, Ample, calls its system “fully autonomous modular battery swapping.” It has developed a system that allows for all types of batteries to be “swapped” using robots and unique pairing with cars, so all type of cars can have their batteries swapped out.
They say the process takes five minutes.
And, they envision these easy-to-build Ample swap-out stations to be located in cities, suburbs and the hinterlands, much like we have gas stations in all those areas now.
I really like the idea and maybe, just maybe, this company will give me the peace of mind I need to drive an electric car in Grand County.
But there’s more. A Colorado-based company, called Solid Power, is developing solid state batteries for use in electric cars that don’t use any fluids and which promise to offer ranges of up to 500 miles or more on a faster charge.
Batteries like that would also give me significant reason to get over my range anxiety and buy an electric car.
Of course, neither of these electric car innovations are out there on the market yet. But both companies promise they are coming soon.
I look forward to the day so I can relax while I drive my heated, all-wheel drive electric vehicle all around Grand County.
Patrick Brower is the Enterprise Facilitator for the Grand Enterprise Initiative. He offers free and confidential business management coaching to anyone who wants to start or expand a business in Grand County. He is also the author of “KILLDOZER: The True Story of the Colorado Bulldozer Rampage.” He can be reached by calling 970-531-0632 or at email@example.com.
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