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Tesla Motors demonstrates battery swap in the Model S

As promised, Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk demonstrated a battery swap option for the Model S. The swap, which, similar to the Better Place approach, has the target vehicle drive over a pit for removal of the old and insertion of a new pack, takes about 90 seconds.

The scenario, said Musk, is that each Tesla Supercharging station (“Tesla station”) would have a swap option. Customers could have either free charging via the fast charger for longer periods, or a paid battery swap.

The goal is to eliminate the objections that people have. It’s convincing people that are skeptics. Some people take a lot of convincing. [An electric vehicle] can actually be more convenient than a gasoline car.

—Elon Musk

The California Air Resources Board staff is considering modifying the Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV) Regulation to exclude battery swapping as a “fast refueling” technology as the intent of the regulation is for the regular use of a fast refueling mechanism—i.e., not an occasional use. (Earlier post.)

Specifically, the proposal would make range accumulation through battery exchange ineligible for meeting “fast refueling capability.”

Fast refueling plays a role in the classification of different types of ZEVs and the calculation of ZEV credits. Under the curent regulations, the “fast refueling capability” requirement for a 2009 through 2017 model year Type III, IV, or V ZEV will be considered met if the Type III ZEV has the capability to accumulate at least 95 miles of UDDS range in 10 minutes or less and the Type IV or V ZEV has the capability to accumulate at least 190 or 285 miles, respectively, in 15 minutes or less.

Essentially, the higher the type number, the more credits the vehicle earns for the manufacturer when it is placed in service in California.



I suppose the batteryswap scales better than the supercharger, especially if the numbers increase.
You don't want to wait N * 30 minutes while the guys in the queue before you get charged up.
A 30 minute wait is fine - you can have a burger / coffee, but beyond that, it might get a little tedious.

I assume they can hook up several cars to a single charger, and , as soon as one is done, it switches to the next.

They could give you a wireless tag with 4 modes - waiting to charge, charging, charged, please remove.

As long as there are several cords for a single charger, you could wander off for an hour or so without tying up other people.

OR, you could just swap the battery and be on your way.

I wonder how hard it would be to redesign other cars to take the battery - or would you have to start from scratch.


@ mahonj
The superchargers work because they have some massive stationary batteries that are able to discharge from the station/charge the car at a rate of 120kW. And yes, there are multiple cords drawing from the stationary battery much the same way a gas station has one big underground tank, but multiple pumps & hoses so multiple cars can be filled at the same time.

As far as battery swapping goes - wow you don't follow EV news much do you. One of the innovations of the Model S is it's designed from scratch to utilize a skateboard chassis (with the pack under the floorboard). No other car maker has done this, but then again no car makers are collaborating their pack designs with other car makers. Lack of a standard battery or multiple car companies collaborating is one of the main reasons battery swapping company "Better Place" went under. Battery swapping in general I think gets misconstrued by the public as an easier solution, but is in fact more complicated technically, and also adds complications financially as the batteries are the single most components in the car, so people would not want to swap it out without the possibility to get it back - think like swapping out the engine in a normal car - what if the replacement was in worse shape?



I really like this.
As long as the 'free' for life charging is kept at stations (and they increase beyond 2015 predictions for locations), 110&220V 'anywhere' charging is supported, and homeowners can have their own 3 hours or less superchargers at home, this is an excellent anti-gas station option. Further, through licensing, every oil change and tune up place could probably test and install these so it would be almost as widespread as gas stations eventually. As long as the price per mile is still less than 50% of gas prices of today including power, labour, and battery - all good. Hooray for Tesla bringing the convenience not environmentalism that people actually 'want' in an EV - affordability?, though - > hmmm. Maybe dramatic sales increase at drop to $70k on crossover model in 3 years? Question is, can any other manufacturer compete with this in the next 5-7 years?


One possible solution would be to buy swap battery BEVs without the battery pack and pay the 'Swap battery' supplier a fixed fee ($10 to $15) or ($0.10 to $0.15/kWh of battery capacity) for each battery swap?

That way, BEV owners would not have to worry about the age/quality of the battery. That would be the responsibility of the 'swap providers'.


mahonj, you're thinking "queue" like it's a conventional gas station with their drive-through lines with guys waiting behind you, but Tesla has designed the stations like a row of parking spaces;

You drive in for a charge and back out when you're finished and anybody else who needs a charge just parks beside you, not behind you. If the number of EVs in the area increases beyond the capacity of the station the simple fix is to increase the length of the row of parking spaces.

Or better yet, we live in the 'Information Age' (you know, that whole thing with computers and the internet?) We could let the same on-board computers that would direct the drivers to the nearest charging station redirect them to the next nearest station if the driver tells it he doesn't want to wait for an open space.


This article leaves out the part where Musk says it will cost $50-80 per swap (in the URL in kelly's post). It's also mentioned in CNN Money's article -

Even a 100 kwh battery should only cost $25 to charge in California, in Virginia only $7. So who buys the batteries? Does that $50-80 swap fee include battery rental cost?

The Money article mentioned that Musk was at a battery swap demonstration, where TV monitors showed a video of a car filling up with gas at a cost of $100. Probably absolute deception, but required to get people to pay double or triple for the convenience of swapping instead of waiting for charging.

Bob Wallace

Rethink your thinking about multiple cords per charger.

Think about rather than the currently being built Tesla charger, rapid charges that could be installed in restaurant/shopping center parking lots.

On charger, four cords. Say two cars side by side with another two parked nose to nose with those two and the charger in the center.

Or string them out in a line with a secondary post for the other two cables.

Four empty spots at a charger? You get charged right away.

One empty spot at a charger? You get charged after the other three are charged. First come, first served.

And you car would be smart enough to tell you which one of multiple "one spot left" chargers would get to you fastest. It's possible that the first two cars would have already been charged and the third was well underway.

You could park and be assured you'd be able to stay there for at least an hour. You'd know how long it would be before you could leave if you're in a hurry.

Merchants and restaurant owners would love having people get out of their cars and looking for something to do. Gas stations don't offer that opportunity except for the mini-mart and for a lot less time.


Musk says $50-80 per swap. You can charge a 100 kwh battery for $25 in CA and $7 in Virginia. Does the $50-80 include battery rental? Who owns the battery?


@Bob et al
That is what I meant:

N cords per charger, M chargers (I didn't make the 'M' clear).
(N might be 2-4], M would be based on demand.

(I am assuming a cord is cheaper than a charger).

You join the queue with the least number of cars, and get a disk (like in coffee shops). (Or the queue the system tells you to take).

The disk would count down until a: you were charging and B, you were charged. [ If no-one else was in the queue, the charging starts immediately. ]

With the disk, you can take your time doing other things (like eating a meal that takes > 30 minutes, or shopping).

As long as there is someone else connected to the charger, they can be charged, even if you are still connected, but no longer charging.

Thus, you get charged in the shortest time, but you don't have to hang around waiting for it to finish.

You can't drive off till you give the disk back.



Yes you can charge a 100 kwh battery for $25 in CA and $7 in Virginia but that's for any car other than a Tesla. Tesla charges nothing for a simple charge. Musk is offering a choice here: You can charge fast, or you can charge for free.


Correction: "Tesla charges nothing for a simple charge" should be read as "With Tesla you pay nothing for a simple charge"


"Tesla charges nothing for a simple charge" What does that mean? You plug in your car at home and send a bill to Tesla? Or you plug into a Tesla charging station and they don't charge you for charging?


It means that the purchase of an 85 kWh Telsa Model S includes a surcharge for lifetime use of the Supercharger network.


The second. Tesla's supercharging stations are a free complimentary service to their customers. "When you come to the Tesla station," said Musk on stage, "you have the choice of the Supercharger," the Telsa's battery charging station, "which is and always will be free." Musk continued, "Or, you have the choice of the battery pack swap, which is faster than you can fill a gas tank."

"Free forever."


It means that the purchase of an 85 kWh Telsa Model S includes a surcharge for lifetime use of the Supercharger network.

The 60kwh model costs $77800 and the 85kwh model costs $88500 so each extra kwh costs you $428 ($10700 total difference between the two). But it should only cost $265 per kwh;

That's only $6625 extra for the extra 25kwh. Subtract that from the $10700 and we get a surcharge of $4075 for the free electricity - how far could you go on $4075 if you had to pay for the electricity?


Tesla is making what we call a "profit" on the larger batteries, in the same way that BMW and Mercedes charge more for larger engines than they actually cost to build.

No-one forces you to buy the larger engine/batteried car, it is usually for bragging rights at the golf club.

This extra money is what keeps most companies afloat as the business is very competitive.

The option to swap now for money or charge more slowly for free is a very good one and shows that Musk is a marketing as well as an engineering genius.

Obviously, the cost of the charging stations is built into the car costs, and the early adopters can pay for them.

Well maybe not - as more people buy the cars, they will have to keep building (or expanding) the supercharger stations, so the costs could be unending - unless he can get someone else to build (and operate) them.
It looks like the charge only stations are unmanned - I am not sure you could get away with that for the swap stations - and that means a lot of costs.

I wonder would they man them 24 hours a day, or just 7-7.
(once the station has available chargers, you don't really need the swaps)

Pity for the roadster owners, though.

Kit P

Before reading kelly's link I like to see if the author is worth reading.

“I have been blogging professionally since 2008. ”

And what does he want to get paid.

$100–$1000 per post ”

Never mind not worth my time, GCC provided the info.

Jer writes, “I really like this. ”

Why is that? Do you really think that a '$70k on crossover model' is a good idea and will be what drivers have been waiting for?

“BMW and Mercedes ”

All this time I thought they were purchased for superior handling. I love the reason people use to justify compulsive behavior.


Here's another way to look at this: The 60kwh version also comes with a supercharger as a $2,150 option. The average price of electricity in America is $.12/kwh so the average cost to recharge the 60 version is $7.2, for $2,150 you could recharge it 298.61 times. With a range per charge of 208 miles you could travel 62,111.11 miles for the cost of the supercharger. How far do you drive a car in its lifetime?


Ultra quick chargers for BEVs and PHEVs is a short term problem. The arrival of lower cost much quicker units will solve this real and perceived problem soon.

By 2020 or so, many thousands 400 KW to 1,000 KW chargers will be in operation in USA/Canada, EU and Asia.

Simultaneously, many thousands gas stations and a few dozen refineries will be closed. This progressive change has already started. Three out of five refineries have already been closed in our area and over 100 gas stations too. Smaller more efficient ICEVs and a growing number of HEVs, PHEVs and BEVs.

Fully automatic (unmanned) 24/7 ultra quick chargers will be much cleaner and more profitable than stinky gas stations.


Tesla will only push this battery swap technology to the extent that it makes financial sense. There are still many barriers to a successful roll-out. Let's see how many owners are willing to swap first.


If the battery can be swapped in 90 seconds, it means that you don't have to worry about the battery ever wearing out.  All you have to do is drive to a swap station and you get a new one.

Given the new battery chemistries coming down the pike, this is a huge selling point.



That bill might just be a bill of attainder, which would let Tesla tie New York up in the courts until they dropped the effort.


This is a demonstration of true 'Moneycracy' at work. Oil and ICEVs $$$ against common sense BEVs.

Will NY States bow to Oil $$$$?

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