All electric car makers to collaboratively develop standardised swappable car batteries

All electric car makers to collaboratively develop standardised swappable car batteries

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Charles Wong started this petition to Governments and

To stop climate change, many of us are willing to switch to electric cars, and governments are pushing for it too. Starting from 2030, the only new cars we can buy in the UK will be electric cars.

However, range and charging remain the two major issues with electric car ownership. I own an electric car, but have never been able to take it on a long journey as it is simply impractical to stop at services for hours to top up its battery.

Honestly, I can't see the current efforts to improve battery capacity and charging speed can make it practical to purely drive electric cars by 2030.

I am thus campaigning for car manufacturers to work on a different approach: replaceable car battery cells (just like AA or AAA batteries used in our small appliances). We should be able to replace empty cells in our car batteries with pre-charged cells which can be purchased at petrol stations. The empty cells swapped out can then be handed back to the petrol station to recharge and sell again.

This will eliminate the need to wait for batteries to recharge on long journeys, making electric cars more practical and people more willing to switch.

I believe the technologies are already there, but to make this work, car manufacturers need to collaboratively develop standard car battery cells that all cars can use, so that we only need one standard infrastructure for petrol stations to recharge empty cells for resale.

This will also make it possible for people to own a standard car battery charger at home to pre-charge some spare battery cells for long journeys. Even better, these chargers can run on solar or wind.

It is difficult for competing car manufacturers to collaborate and agree on battery standards, but if they know this is what a lot of potential electric car owners want, they will take it more seriously.

Please help to sign this petition to push car manufacturers to work together on this potential game changer.


While sharing this petition, I have got some feedback arguing this might not be such a good idea. I do understand the arguments but have a slightly different perspective, and will respond to the key arguments below.

1. EV batteries are manufactured as one big piece and impractical to swap

In design, there is a technique called Modularisation, i.e. building smaller self-contained units which can then be used to compose into bigger units.

EV batteries are currently built as one big piece because there is no requirement for them to be modular, not necessarily because it is the only way.

In fact, some manufacturers are already developing swappable cells technology so that if some cells in a battery have deteriorated they can just swap them out rather than changing the whole battery. This is for a different purpose but has nevertheless taken us a step closer to cell swapping.

2. Cell swapping requires setting aside spare batteries while materials for battery production are already in shortage

We only need to reserve a small percentage of batteries as spare, as most EV journeys can be completed without top up (as some of you have correctly pointed out). We can then build EVs with smaller batteries, which could more than compensate for the spare batteries.

For example, if we keep 5% of the batteries as spare, but then build EVs with 90% of the battery size they'd otherwise need, we would still have saved 5% of battery material to build more EVs.

Cell-swapping could thus actually be part of the solution to the battery material shortage issue.

It will also enable building cheaper, more economical EVs with smaller batteries, while keeping them practical, thus encouraging adoption.

3. Cell swapping infrastructure will take a long time and huge investment to build

Cell swapping infrastructure can be built on top and run in parallel with existing charging infrastructure. The service stations just need to have battery chargers that plug into existing car charging posts (the demand for which will diminish anyway if cell swapping becomes a thing), plus an initial stock of charged cells.

4. Battery and charging technology advancement will deem cell swapping unnecessary

The current EV charging regime will always have this limitation: the EV can only be either charging or running, not both.

Cell swapping will enable the two to happen in parallel, i.e. the EV can be running while its next set of battery cells are being charged at its next service stop (or home).

It will also solve the a conundrum for those who have home solar car chargers (the EV is not home when the sun is out). Cell swapping enables spare cells to be charged using home solar battery charger (plugged into existing charger) while the EV is out and about.

At the end of the day, EVs are only green if the electricity they use are generated by renewable means.

5. Standardisation will kill innovation

Standardisation is more about the interface than the internal design of a product. Taking AA batteries as example, while they all conform to the AA standards (size, shape, voltage), we still have AA batteries with innovative designs that out-perform the rest.

What we might need is a grading and deposit system, where we pay a higher deposit for higher grade cells. So if we swap a lower grade cell for a higher grade cell we will pay extra, and vice versa.

6. Difficult to control the condition of the cells returned and sold at service stations

Service stations could be equipped with battery checkers to instantly check the status of a returned cell and also show the customer the status of the cell being sold. It would be similar to those battery checkers garages are using to check our car batteries, which can quickly tell if a battery is good or bad.

All in all, I believe cell swapping is still a viable approach to help bring down EV prices while keeping them practical (and thus encouraging adoption), and could also solve some of the problems the current charging regime couldn't.

10 have signed. Let’s get to 25!
At 25 signatures, this petition is more likely to be featured in recommendations!