Electric vehicles

Swappable batteries for electric vans and lorries make sense

Car drivers, though, will probably want to keep recharging

ONE OF THE most successful battery-swapping schemes for electric vehicles (EVs) is run by Gogoro, a Taiwanese firm. It has some 500,000 subscribers who, in return for a monthly fee, can quickly exchange depleted batteries from their electric mopeds and scooters for fully charged ones at a network of kiosks around the country. What makes Gogoro’s scheme so popular is that it uses a standardised battery which fits into machines produced by different manufacturers.

Japan’s giant automakers are now looking at doing something similar with delivery vans and light trucks. A consortium of Daihatsu, Isuzu, Hino, Suzuki and Toyota is exploring the use of easily detached “cartridge” batteries to power such vehicles. These cartridges would be smaller than the fixed batteries of typical EVs (though several could be bundled to provide more range) and would be standardised to fit any vehicle adapted to the system. When empty, they could be removed and replaced quickly with fully charged ones at automated drive-in swap stations. Yamato Transport, a big Japanese delivery service, is working with the consortium on ways to set up a network of such stations.

Swapping batteries like this would be a useful way of powering commercial EVs that are constantly on the road and therefore require frequent recharging. Conventional fast charging…