Really, hear me out and listen. If we could make electric cars the way I want them to be, people would readily embrace the whole concept.
The whole thing that set this idea off was buying steaks at the grocery store. Yes, I know. What do steaks have to do with electric cars? Well…it’s complicated, but keep reading. Wandering around the store, I was thinking, “You know, these would taste great on the grill outside. I wonder if there’s any propane left.” Of course t being winter, it was empty, so I unscrewed the tank from the grill and go down to the convenience store where I get it filled.
Not re-filled really, just exchanged for a full one. They’ll take the old tank back, as long as it’s clean and can be refilled safely, and give me a new one already filled. And I’ll take the tank home, and no matter what brand of grill I have, or size, or BTU’s it has, or extras on it, it’ll work. Because they’re all standard. One size fits all.
Now back to cars.
The car batteries that we use now in most cars are a good example. My Taurus uses a typical 12V battery. It’s essentially the same one that a Porsche 911 uses. In theory, I could swap them out and it would work. Pretty much the same situation with fuel. We all go to the filling station for fuel. Because this is standardized.
Standardization is the key.
Now, on to electric cars.
What is the one thing about electric cars that for now anyway…make them unrealistic to the average person to drive every day?
Driving an electric car will make you feel like you’re doing good for the planet, but then you realize that in general you get at most, 50-100 miles between charges. And that’s if you drive like an 85 year old lady. Then it’s a minimum of 45 minutes, or to up to 6 hours or more to recharge. From a power plant that probably uses coal to make that electricity. That just doesn’t cut it for daily use.
If you had to spend 45 minutes in a regular fueling station every time you put gas in your car now, you’d probably look for a new car.
Now go back to the standardization:
My idea is that all electric cars would use a simple standard battery pack. All made perhaps by one or two manufacturers to ensure availability. Very simple to take out and to put in. Maybe as small as the size of a laptop. Snap in, snap out.
The batteries that are being used in many electric cars now are huge and heavy for one reason: to get longer range between charging. But in my electric car world, smaller batteries would work better. Here’s why:
If you drive a car like mine; smaller and not very powerful, you’d need one battery pack. If you drive a larger car, maybe two packs. A high performance sports car, three packs, and so on. And here’s the best part, you’d just go to your regular ‘filling’ station when you need more juice.
Pull up, and pop the trunk or hood depending on where they are. The station attendant comes over, sees you need one or two packs, and takes yours out. He then goes over to the ‘full battery’ rack, takes two down, pops them in and viola. You’re set to go in under 5 minutes. You pay for a full ‘tank’ and go about your merry way.
He then takes the drained batteries, pops them on the charger and once they’re charged, waits for the next driver who needs more power.
Wouldn’t matter if you drive a Ford, an Aston, a Ferrari, a Chevy or whatever. All cars would use the same packs. Be it one or more packs. So, if you’re in Ohio or California or somewhere not even on the map, you can still go to any filling station when the ‘fuel’ gauge gets low.
Maybe even have the option to carry a small emergency spare for those ‘just in case’ situations.
To make it even better, the local filling station could use a larger type of hydrogen fuel cell to recharge the battery packs. So, we’d all be driving around in zero emission cars, and the local BP would only be spewing pure water back into the environment. Heck, bottle the water, or use it for a car wash.
I know you’re thinking that a smaller battery wouldn’t give much range. Which is true, but my gas tank on my car only holds about 11 gallons. Ford doesn’t design a car with a tank large enough to go across America; it designs a car with the understanding that you can fill that smaller tank anywhere.
So, why do car engineers make electric cars with such huge batteries? Because they know once the juice is gone, you need to park it and wait for some time. And of course, hope you’re at home when it needs charged. Not very convenient or safe to realize you need to charge it out in the middle of nowhere. Or halfway to your vacation destination.
Another benefit would be the recycling of the battery packs. All batteries will eventually need replaced. Since they would be made by just a few manufacturers, and be truly standard, recycling would be much more efficient.
Easy to recharge, standard, cheaper, more flexibility, and you could drive as long as you want without having to worry about having to make an overnight stop to finish your trip.
I know my theory has numerous holes in it. Battery life and power are the main ones for now. But batteries are getting better every day. Smaller, cooler and more powerful even as we speak. Today that pack may be the size of a small suitcase, but in 5 years, it could be half that.
What could possibly go wrong?