Tesla demos battery-swapping in 90 seconds, "Do you prefer fast or free?"

Tesla battery-swapping demo video
Screen capture Tesla

We also learn that Audis have huge gas tanks

How many other surprise features can there be in the Model S, a car that Consumer Reports rated at 99 out of 100 and called "the best they've ever tested"? Maybe battery swapping will force them to cough up that extra point... The Supercharging feature was a big deal that was kept secret until last September (and then we learned that it was getting upgraded to be even faster), and now we learn that the Model S can get its battery swapped out faster than the time it takes to fill a gas tank (how fast? see below). Granted, it wasn't really a secret, but nobody had seen it in action until now and it wasn't clear if the company would jump into battery-swapping with both feet or just keep it on the back-burner, as an option.

Kind of like a F1 pit stop, except more impressive because it's not just the tires...

Here's the Tesla demo video. I guess it's not a big spoiler to say that they had time to fully swap 2 Model S battery packs in the time it took to fill up an Audi. Of course, not all gas vehicles have such big tanks, but regardless of how long it takes to fill up, it remains that 93 seconds is damn fast to get back to full charge in an electric car with such a large battery pack!

Of course, battery-swapping will always remains more complex than simply plugging in, and unlike the Supercharger stations, it won't be free; Musk put it this way: "Do you prefer fast or free?".

How much will it cost?

Battery swapping will cost between $60 and $80, which is about the cost of filling up with gasoline a 15-gallon tank, so not very expensive. But to avoid people trading in old batteries for new ones for less than $100, you'll have to pick up your battery on the return trip or pay for the difference between it and a new battery (I assume that Tesla will release charts for the depreciation of their battery packs).

Tesla battery-swapping demo videoTesla/Screen capture

Musk explains in his outro that this demonstration is partly about convincing the skeptics ("Some people need a lot of convincing," he says). I think this will help. Even if 99% of charges are done at home and at Superchargers, just having this option be available out there will put a lot of people's minds at ease. "It's there if I ever want to use it." This is basic human psychology, which is the reason most people buy cars and houses that are too big for their needs...

Also worth noting is that this demo takes place less than a month after battery-swapping startup Better Place had to fold...

Update: Auto dealers try to sneak in a bill that would put "Tesla out of business in New York"

Via Tesla Motors

See also: Elon Musk on how long he'll stay at Tesla, battery swapping, direct selling, mass-market EVs, etc

Tags: Electric Cars | Electric Vehicles


treehugger slideshows