Tesla Motors Unveils 90-Second Battery Swap — 18 Videos

Tesla Motors this past week unveiled a stunning 90-second battery pack swap option for its Model S owners. The option should be available on the East and West coast by the end of the year. Below are more details — including 18 videos — in two EV Obsession reposts:

Tesla Unveils 90-Second Battery Swap (VIDEO)

Tesla’s last big announcement following months of good news and press conferences was the announcement that it could perform a 90-second battery swap and would be rolling out battery swapping stations on the East and West Coast this year. This announcement took the form of a battery swapping demo last night (Thursday, June 20) at 8:00pm at Tesla’s Design Studio in Hawthorne, California. Video on Tesla’s site and here:

Fast Pack Swap Event from Tesla Motors on Vimeo.

Indeed, even despite Better Place’s recent bankruptcy and Carlos Ghosn’s announcement that Nissan and Renault didn’t have any more plans to be involved with battery swapping, Tesla is jumping into the battery swapping arena. Later in the year, Tesla will roll out some battery swapping stations along the major Los Angeles-to-San Francisco corridor and then along to the Washington-to-Boston corridor.

Musk seemed quite optimistic about this segment of Tesla’s world-leading technology offerings. “Hopefully this is what convinces people finally that electric cars are the future,” Tesla CEO and Chairman Elon Musk said at the event.

Electric cars have been growing strong — by many standards, much faster than conventional hybrids did at the same stage of their development. Numerous major car companies now offer electric vehicles. But none offer what Tesla offers — the Model S, solar-powered supercharging stations, and now battery swapping stations. Tesla is clearly the world’s EV leader, and many would argue automotive leader, at this point in time.

tesla battery swap

Image Credit: Tesla

I was on a press call with Elon a few weeks ago in which the topic of battery swapping was brought up by a reporter. This was just following news that Better Place, the world’s initial battery swapping leader, was going bankrupt. Elon noted that he had been talking about battery swapping for years, that it wasn’t a revolutionary idea (we do it with other technologies), and that the keys were getting the battery swapping technology and economics right. We’ll see if Tesla has done so.

Initially, it will cost Model S drivers $60 to $80 to swap a battery pack. However, they have to swap again on their return drive and get their original battery pack back. Otherwise, they have to pay the difference between the value of their old battery pack and the new one. And, of course, if a driver would rather take a break and spend 20–30 minutes recharging with one of Tesla’s Superchargers for free, they can still do that — the battery swapping and supercharger stations will be located next to each other.

A key line from the demo last night was of course, “The only decision you need to make when you come to one of our Tesla stations is, Do you prefer faster, or free?”

As the demonstration last night showed, Tesla’s battery swapping service is as quick and cheap as filling up a 15-gallon gas tank. In other words, no compromises in switching from a gasmobile to an electric car. 90 seconds for a battery swap — not bad.

Tesla Battery Swap Q&A And Demo Videos

The big electric car news of the week was surely the Tesla Model S battery pack swap demo that I wrote about yesterday. Tesla had been hinting about it for weeks… or years, depending on how you count. But I don’t think anyone anticipated that the battery swap would take just 90 seconds. (Okay, fine, some Tesla enthusiasts probably had the idea….)

As some people noted, it would have been nice if the demo gave us a better view of the actually swap… couldn’t really see much of that.

Also, Tesla CEO and Chairman Elon Musk somehow didn’t have a script for what to say while the swap was happening and while their Audi guy (Javier) was filling up his gas tank in LA. (Say wha?) As some of our commenters noted, he could have used that time to give us more details about the battery swapping that was going on. Not really sure why that wasn’t planned better….

However, a lot of interesting details and comments were provided in the Q&A, which we’ve got videos of below. And a 90-second battery swap — even at $60 to $80 — is likely to appeal to a number of time-sensitive Tesla Model S drivers who value their time at more than $120 or $160 per hour. So, I think it’s pretty exciting to see that Tesla is now going to offer this option.

One of our readers who was at the event has shared a bunch of videos from the demo and Q&A on YouTube. Check them out.

This first video includes the intro to the video shared yesterday (not part of that Tesla video). There’s some really good and funny stuff in here from Elon.

These next three are videos of segments of the event that were included in the video we shared yesterday.

And the next 13 are videos of the Q&A session that followed the demo:

Interestingly, that answer above gives us more information than we reported yesterday. Yesterday, we noted that the driver could get his battery pack back on his return trip or could keep the new battery pack and pay Tesla the difference between its value and the older battery pack’s value. However, here, Elon adds that there’s also the option of having Tesla deliver your old pack back to you wherever you are! You just pay for the transport cost of that.

Interesting to hear in the video above that the price of a battery swap will vary by location based on the price of gasoline in that area. Interesting idea.

So, he indicates in the video above that these battery swap stations are likely to be available starting in the 4th quarter.

As I think has been pretty clear for awhile, Elon notes Tesla is “fundamentally production limited,” not demand limited. In other words, it’s producing all the cars it can in order to supply them to customers who have ordered them. And that should be the case through the end of the year. Nothing new, but apparently some people aren’t aware of that.

For those of you interested in ARB issues — in particular, the possibility of battery swapping not qualifying for such credits — hopefully the rumination and Elon’s points above are useful to you.

Better Place was “better at marketing than they were at engineering.” Ouch….

I love that Elon is open to selling the battery swapping technology only if “they make it as convenient as we do.” In other words, no screwing up or highjacking the customer convenience solution! Musk is a clear EV pioneer who wants to help the world to change in a positive way.

Interesting stuff. Your thoughts?