The Electric Vehicle “Range Problem”

The Idea
Nothing radical here, really. I simply propose that electric vehicles be designed around a standard “battery sled” to be mounted on the bottom of all electric vehicles. This sled would be quickly interchangeable with a new sled at stations along the highways.

The Business Model
The model would be the same as the propane tank exchange which is common here in America. The spent sled you drop off at a station would either be recharged on site (best) or shipped to a charging facility. The vendor would be responsible for charging and refurbishing the sleds.

The Mechanics
A sled station would be similar to a car wash. You’d pull in to a bay and pay for your new sled at the entrance. You would then pull on to a track, place your drivetrain in neutral and power down. The track would pull your vehicle forward through two stations inside the bay. The first station would remove the spent sled and the second station would place a new sled on your vehicle. As you exit, you would simply power up your vehicle and drive off.

The vendor would service and recharge the spent sled using renewable energy sources such as solar or wind generation. They could utilize specialized fast-charge equipment capable of charging sleds much faster than your own, home-charging system.

At home, you would have a home charging system capable of overnight charging for day-to-day driving. For most of your short-range commuter travel, you would simply recharge the same sled over and over again. This sort of charging may also be offered at each parking space around town and billed via a parking meter system.

Problem Solved, Sort Of
The main thing holding back wide spread adoption of electric-only vehicles, in my opinion, is the long charging times required after your batteries run out. Gasoline and diesel are convenient sources of energy because you can fill up your tank in a matter of minutes and drive another 200 to 400 miles. With current electric vehicle technology, you can drive about 200 miles before you have to stop and charge for 8 or more hours. That makes long trips impractical.

The replaceable battery sled is the only way to get the same level of convenience as a gasoline or diesel vehicle in an electric-only one. Now the only problem is implementation. Which comes first, the sled or the station? In reality, you need both at the same time and in enough numbers to make the solution practical.

If only I were a billionaire. . .