A Techno-Economic Analysis of BEV Service Providers Offering Battery Swapping Services 2013-01-0500
Battery electric vehicles (BEVs) offer the potential to reduce both oil imports and greenhouse gas emissions, but high upfront costs, battery-limited vehicle range, and concern over high battery replacement costs may discourage potential buyers. A subscription model in which a service provider owns the battery and supplies access to battery swapping infrastructure could reduce upfront and battery replacement costs with a predictable monthly fee, while expanding BEV range. Assessing the costs and benefits of such a proposal are complicated by many factors, including customer drive patterns, the amount of required infrastructure, battery life, etc. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory has applied its Battery Ownership Model to compare the economics and utility of BEV battery swapping service plan options to more traditional direct ownership options. Our evaluation process followed four steps: (1) identifying drive patterns best suited to battery swapping service plans, (2) modeling service usage statistics for the selected drive patterns, (3) calculating the cost-of-service plan options, and (4) evaluating the economics of individual drivers under realistically priced service plans. A service plan option can be more cost-effective than direct ownership for drivers who wish to operate a BEV as their primary vehicle where alternative options for travel beyond the single-charge range are expensive, and a full-coverage-yet-cost-effective regional infrastructure network can be deployed. However, under our assumed cost of gasoline, tax structure, and absence of purchase incentives, our calculations show the service plan BEV is rarely more cost-effective than direct ownership of a conventional vehicle.