TED published an interesting interview with Shai Agassi about electric cars . One idea that I hadn’t heard before is that of moving car batteries between regions as they lose capacity. An old battery for an electric car that can only handle short journeys may be useful in a region where journeys are typically short. On a similar note I expect that in a few decades the less prosperous countries will import old electric vehicles and fit them with 4 or more batteries. Last time I checked the Prius battery pack weighed about 120Kg, so the car would be usable with 4 battery packs if driven at low speeds.
Shai Agassi also gave a TED talk on this topic . The real solution for the problem of providing convenient and affordable electric vehicles is to start by recharging the batteries whenever the vehicle is parked (at the office, shopping center, home, etc). Then on the rare occasions when the car is being driven for longer distances and the battery gets flat it can be swapped for a charged battery. They have apparently designed a robot for changing car batteries, so changing the battery would be like driving through a car-wash. He describes this as an economic model that decouples the expensive battery from the car, so you pay for the use of the battery not the ownership – just as with a petrol car you pay for the petrol you use not for a portion of the ownership of an oil well.
He also pointed out that cars produce 25% of the world’s CO2 emissions, so his plan for all electric cars everywhere seems to be an essential part of solving the environmental problems. He then compared this to the UK parliamentary discussion on ending slavery, at the time slaves provided 25% of the energy used by the UK. After a month of discussion the decision was made to make the moral choice and end slavery regardless of the cost.