Science & technology
Horses for courses
If they do come up with a workable scheme, it might encourage producers of commercial evs in other countries to try something similar.
But there are a lot of bumps in the road ahead before any of this will happen.
For one thing, it is not just a common specification for the battery that has to be agreed, but also the means by which it is attached and removed.
That impinges on how companies design their vehicles, making agreement harder to come by.
At present there is little standardisation in the ev business.
Batteries come in many shapes and sizes, and chargers work with some vehicles but not others.
A lot of batteries are also tricky to remove.
Increasingly, indeed, they are designed into vehicles as part of the structure.
Manufacturers who once assumed batteries would become commoditised now develop their own, employing them to provide commercial advantages such as increased range, faster acceleration and quicker charging.
The success of a battery-swapping scheme would thus depend on how its cost compared with charging batteries in situ -- though both options would probably be available on any given commercial vehicle.
For private cars, where leasing batteries has not been popular, success is less likely.
Battery-swapping schemes for cars do exist.
Nio, a Chinese carmaker, provides swap stations in its home market, where many people live in apartments and so have no access to home charging.
But most manufacturers are looking at better batteries and improved charging infrastructure.
Tesla, America’s biggest ev producer, considered battery swapping but ditched the idea in favour of developing its own Supercharger network.
And charging times on most networks are coming down, with some high-voltage systems able to top up batteries from 20% to 80% in under 20 minutes.
That still does not overcome the battery-strain problem.
But future batteries, particularly the solid-state variety that some companies are developing, promise to be smaller and capable of greater range, so will need charging less often.
Most private electric-car drivers will thus still need to keep their charging cables handy.