BOSTON—Battery swapping could help make electric vehicles more cost-effective, claims a new report from Lux Research Inc. Although the concept failed nearly a decade ago, it is now being considered for use in urban taxi fleets.
Limited charging speed and availability have been major barriers to electric vehicle adoption, and fast-charging stations are currently the most popular way to quickly add range to vehicles. However, the additional power demands can stress the electrical grid, prompting reconsideration of other alternatives like battery swapping.
“Instead of quickly charging the battery, battery swapping aims to physically replace a depleted battery with a charged one,” explains Christopher Robinson, director of research at Lux Research and lead author of the “Cost Comparison of Battery Swapping and Fast Charging for Electric Vehicles” report. “Battery swapping can address two main challenges with fast charging: It slowly charges depleted batteries to minimize grid impact and battery degradation, and it allows for faster addition of range in electric vehicles.”
According to Robinson, battery replacement costs are crucial for keeping costs low for any infrastructure. In addition, he says battery swapping is more competitive for large fleet sizes, such as taxis.
As battery swapping networks grow, Robinson believes new opportunities for cost reduction will emerge. While fast-charging stations have the benefit of a decade of deployment and refinement, battery swapping is still in its nascent stages. However, deployments have been accelerating rapidly over the past two years.