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Canberra makes WIRED

By johnboy 22 June 2011 26

better place swap station

It’s a rare day when Canberra makes it into WIRED (the Vogue of nerds), but the Better Place electric car rollout has made the grade:

Swappable batteries arrive in Australia next year in a slick electric sedan built by Renault.

The French automaker will introduce the Renault Fluence Z.E. to Canberra, where Silicon Valley startup Better Place is rolling out the battery swap stations and public charging infrastructure needed to keep the cars going. It’s another big step forward for the two companies and their aggressive plans to electrify transportation.

Apparently we’ll see the swap stations in town later this year.

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Canberra makes WIRED
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triffid 4:30 pm 23 Jun 11

Kath said :

Ideally people get the engine ripped out of their old vehicles and have a conversion done rather than waste money and resources on new electric cars.

I wish it was as easy as that, Kath, but it isn’t. For instance, almost any conversion along the lines you suggest will realise a significant redistribution of mass around the vehicle. Sure . . . you might be taking 120-odd kgs of engine and transmission out of the front and replacing it with 60 or so kgs of electric motor, and ditching things like fuel tanks and exhaust systems, but then you’re looking at positioning about 150 – 200 kgs (maybe nore) of batteries somewhere else (in the boot / back seat?).

The potential to radically upset the ‘balance’ of the vehicle due to the resulting inappropriate spring / damper rates at each end of the vehicle, or brake bias distribution, or stub axle durabilty is a very real primary safety issue. As are issues such as what that level of modification does to the ‘collision worthiness’ of the vehicle. Even some of the most hard-core / die hard exponents of EVs that I regularly encounter suggest that converted vehicles perhaps really ought to be considered in a similar manner as individually constructed vehicles (ICVs). In short . . . fully engineer approved and certified with a raft of holistic modifications to address the sort of issues outlined above (not cheap or easy to attain).

sumarai 3:18 pm 23 Jun 11

I subscribe to WIRED… didn’t think I was a nerd though 😀

Kath 2:46 pm 23 Jun 11

Ideally people get the engine ripped out of their old vehicles and have a conversion done rather than waste money and resources on new electric cars.

wildturkeycanoe 6:22 am 23 Jun 11

What real advantage is there to electric cars with these things to consider
1. Realistically, where is the power coming from? Coal fired power stations. All our green power makes a small percentage of the production and is already being used by the “green” consumers. You can’t sell it more than once.
2. Electrical infrastructure is already suffering “Sydney’s transformer fires in summer, etc.” so with more and more electric cars sucking our system dry, what are the chances we have more blackouts and system failures? The grid needs to be brought up to scratch before any of this is a real world solution.
3. Diesel is nearly as clean with more range. You can’t take an electric car out of Canberra or the towys will make a killing bringing you new batteries to get you home.
4. And what of the life cycle of the “fuel cells”. Anyone out there got more than 5 years from their cordless drill batteries? The replacement cost is outrageous. Just like solar PV, ridiculously expensive way to do things.
Bring on the power of the atom – hydrogen. Better still, get the blueprints to the car that runs on water – the U.S government has had that for years, but won’t use it to help the environment because of the global problems associated with the crash of the oil producing nations.

chris_underscore 9:54 pm 22 Jun 11

dungfungus said :

chris_underscore said :

Actually dungfungus, you’re wrong. The EV technology is rapidly improving, search the Renault Fluence Z.E in google, does that look like a tiny smart car?

And what do you mean the average means of Australian families? Australia is a highly car dependent society, especially chaos. As petrol prices continue to rise this is going to greatly affect the current Australian way of life. Living 30km away from your place of business in the outer suburbs will become alot more costly. So this is one of the most important topics for any political agenda, security of future transportation.

Some of us believe in progressing beyond our primitive thirst for oil (which is a finite resource), seems like you’re living in an ignorant bliss.

I would class an average Australian family as 2 adults and 2 children. Don’t understand your use of “chaos” though.
I tried a new Renault Fluence for size a few weeks ago and it had less leg room than the incredibly fuel efficient Megane sedan it is replacing – anyone above average size will not be comfortable. I enquired about about availability a Renault EV (Renault own Nissan) and they said Renault had nothing in the pipeline. It looks like a well timed publicity stunt. The Fluence is a lot smaller than a Camry and Toyota are currently flogging the Camry hybrid for $35K to get rid of them. Doesn’t matter where you live in Canberra because if you commute to work by any car (petrol/hybrid/electric) you are going to have trouble parking it. I may live in ignorant bliss (does that term apply to anyone who doesn’t agree with you?) but I don’t expect that EVs will not become viable in Australia until the price drops dramatically.
Then again, we have a government that will throw a lot of taxpayer funded subsidies at projects that are “green” so, who knows?

Nah, it’s not so much people that do not agree with my opinion, rather that term refers to people that fail to acknowledge factual statements.

About the car parking situation, the only solution would be to invest heavily in public transport, but sadly Canberra spreads out to an area the same size of London, but with a twentieth of the population, thus the importance of individual ownership of the automobile. The sprawling outer suburbs are screwed for the future.

hax 6:15 pm 22 Jun 11

dungfungus said :

The one thing all this new fangled EVs have in common is that they are tiny (like those Smart ones)
This severely limits their market potential to wealthy, vertically challenged greenies who only have to travel short (no pun intended) distances. As usual, the needs of an average Australian family have been left off the agenda, not that they would want to fork out the sort of money being asked.

So you’re just pointing out the obvious? Or are you saying that if it can’t be done overnight and instantly affordable to all, then it can’t / shouldn’t be done at all??

dungfungus said :

There is plenty of petrol left in the world still.

Sure, why not. Let’s wait until it actually IS all gone before we scramble helplessly to change everything overnight. That will be great for families (and other assorted human beings)

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