TankTwo, a Finnish-American startup, is thinking differently about EV battery technology. Instead of a traditional battery pack, TankTwo wants EV drivers to fill onboard containers with a number of its egg shaped lithium ion modules. An internal processing unit in each module maps out the various contacts between them to create the most efficient arrangement of battery cells. The result is a string battery. When it’s time to recharge, the driver can plug the car in as usual or swap the cells at a fueling station.
Why bother? Tanktwo says with its system, EV owners only pay for the amount of battery they need. If all they require is power to go 50 miles a day, they can put in only enough EV battery cells as needed to meet their needs. The payoff is saving both money and weight. Need to take a longer trip? Just add extra cells at a service station and get a credit for any cells returned when they are no longer needed. Swapping a full tank of cells would take about three minutes according to the company.
No need to worry about battery degradation or battery chemistry becoming obsolete. If battery technology improves, drivers end up with more maximum capacity than when they bought their car just by swapping old cells for new cells. That’s a great way to boost the resale value of an EV as the years and miles go by.
New technology always inspires naysayers. The TankTwo system is brilliant in concept but will it prove popular with EV owners? Despite its promise of cheaper, better, and more convenient batteries, Tanktwo will have to do a lot of convincing go get people to try its system and entrepreneurs to build the infrastructure needed to bring it to market.
No less a personage than Elon Musk has stated publicly that battery swapping is a technology whose time has come and gone. Then again, Musk is the poster child for disruptive ideas that turn conventional thinking on its head. The idea of paying for only as much EV battery as you need is very appealing. Could the redoubtable Mr. Musk himself be a candidate for disruption? We will keep you updated on TankTwo as we learn more.