UPDATE: Musk Posts Photo Of Tesla Model S Battery Swap Video

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Photo of Tesla Model S battery swapping versus 'fastest gas pump in LA' tweeted by Elon Musk

Photo of Tesla Model S battery swapping versus 'fastest gas pump in LA' tweeted by Elon Musk

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Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk confirmed that a press event to be held this Thursday evening will demonstrate battery-swapping for the Tesla Model S.

The mode of communication was his favorite medium: a tweet.

"Seeing is believing," wrote Musk, saying that the company will do a live demonstration of pack-swapping at its design studio in Hawthorne, California.

UPDATE: At 3:30 am Pacific time on Thursday, 17 hours before the event was to kick off, Musk tweeted a photo (above) of what he said was the "fastest gas pump in LA" competing with "Tesla battery pack swap." The photo appears to be from a video that could be shown tonight.

Last month, Green Car Reports detailed the case that Tesla would offer battery-swap capability for the Model S.

The announcement will come Thursday evening at 8 pm Pacific time, or 11 pm on the East Coast.

And Tesla's pack-swapping will be revealed just three weeks after Israeli startup Better Place filed for bankruptcy.

That company had delivered only 1,000 or so electric cars over more than a year, despite offering more than 50 battery-swap stations throughout the country.

Tesla has discussed battery-pack swapping since well before Model S prototypes were first revealed in 2009.

And in fact the Tesla Model S electric luxury sport sedan was designed from the outset to offer the ability to drop the pack easily and quickly out from under the floorpan.

More than a month ago, Musk had broadly teased the concept, tweeting, "There is a way for the Tesla Model S to be recharged throughout the country faster than you could fill a gas tank."

UPDATE: In response to a tweeted question, Musk later tweeted, "Battery pack swap works with all Tesla Model S cars, past and present. It was always there."

We'll find out on Thursday night exactly under what circumstances Tesla Motors plans to offer battery swapping to Model S owners.


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Comments (70)
  1. So now what's going to happen: is Tesla going to build a $500K batteryswapstation every 100 miles or so along every highway on top of the Supercharger network? Will it also be "free to use for life"?

    Bringing up the unloved batteryswap concept sends a signal Tesla can ill afford. It really says: we don't think the problems with batteries are going to be solved any time soon so would you settle for this?

  2. Tesla is actually utilizing things to the max potential. If you missed the earlier supercharger announcement. The superchargers will work even if the grid stops working because it will have batteries. Tesla uses these batteries to buy electricity at night and sell electricity at peak. So these batteries are generating revenue while they sit there.

    Now Tesla is just utilizing those batteries that are just sitting there by letting you loan them out.

    It has nothing to do with settling, if you read the SEC filings from years ago, this was the plan all along and it falls inline with Musk's micromanagement ability. Just like SpaceX uses Tesla batteries and Tesla uses SC panels. He is making an efficient ecosystem utilizing everything.

  3. I think your getting a little too far ahead of your self. Where did Tesla ever say that their energy storage at Supercharger stations would aid in battery swapping?

  4. Considering they are using the same batteries in the superchargers that they use in the model s, I don't see why not. It would be the most practical and efficient route.

  5. Here's a quote from Elon Musk:
    "I read Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy and it highlighted an important point, which is that a lot of times the question is harder than the answer. And if you can properly phrase the question, then the answer is the easy part."

    OK, so here are 3 questions:

    Q: Can corn ethanol completely replace gasoline, with no affect on food supply?
    A: No.

    Q: Can cellulosic ethanol completely replace gasoline, with no affect on food supply?
    A: No.

    Q: Can EVs with range extenders running on cellulosic ethanol completely replace gasoline, with no affect on food supply?
    A: Yes.

    People who bash ethanol only consider the first 2 questions. They don't consider that ethanol may be a viable part of a broader solution.

  6. It actually appears to be a way to scale the superchargers.
    The basic supercharger is 100KW. That's a 100 AMP single phase.
    Cheap enough to provision. when you have 3 chargers, okay, you feed a three phase and it's still cheap enough to provision. Get up to 6 and you are at 200 Volt three phase, and then after that you need some serious engineering. You could really end up needing dedicated transformers, feeds to substations, expensive Medium voltate feeds (7KV),,, Now lets say you have 15 battery packs, back ending the charger. you can slow charge these at low rate, while letting the packs run a big draw into someones car. Batterys make the fast chargers cheaper but you can swap for very fast charging.

  7. it's obvious. use swappable packs to help reduce the costs of superchargers. if you have 10 packs for every supercharger, you dramatically reduce the cost of a supercharger install.

  8. @ Weapon Zero: I fail to see how fitting superchargers with batteries makes batteryswapping just a small step. Look at a picture of a BP battery swap station: do you really think current Supercharger locations could be converted to that or that it is economical or even possible to build a relatively dense network of such expensive installations along highways?

    How much would Tesla have to charge to make this service economically viable for them? Remember it competes with the Superchargers that are "free for life".

  9. Simplify it. Turn some bolts, drop the battery onto a pallet jack move it out of the way, install a fresh one. Automate only what is absolutely necessary, and avoid dropping $950,000,000 the way Better Place did.

    Why spend a ton of money on a service that could be obsolete in as little as four to five years? Keep it simple, bare bones.

  10. Better Place had the right idea, but could not get many auto manufacturers to sign up. If Tesla makes it big with its much cheaper Model S in a few years, swapping then could make sense for cross country driving.

  11. That is because the BP swap stations are inefficient. That is because the swap stations were made to be able to service any kind of battery. It being modular made it good from a marketing perspective, but not very good in terms of costs and size as they had 0 control over the cars and 0 control over the batteries. To add to it, the battery swap station had to store a lot of batteries because battery swapping was the only practical way to travel due to 100 miles and under range and the inability to charge anywhere.

    In comparison, Tesla designs the car and the battery themselves. This means that Tesla has full control of the process. They can make battery swap stations at fraction of the size.

    The service will easily be economical viable.

  12. Supercharging for long cross country trips would add many hours at 30 minutes a recharge every 200 miles. By contrast, battery swapping should take only about 5 minutes per swap, or about the same time as refilling an empty gas tank.

  13. Why unloved? Its wonderfull. I have been dropping my spent battereis for charged for 14 months 45 thousand KM and it works!! five minutes and I am out for the next 90 miles, and that is on a 22KwH battery. Think how useful it is for a 60 KwH batt.

  14. There are more comments in this thread
  15. Personally I can't see how battery swap has any place outside of changing battery at a service centre, because there was something wrong with the last one! Rapid / superchargers are way to go, and I suspect Elon knows this too. That said it is a neat demonstration!

  16. Personally, I don't believe in battery swaps either. But the batteries are already there so there is no extra cost to doing this.(part of why Better Place failed).

    As long as Tesla makes this simple where you come to a superchargers, pick up a loaner battery and then on the way back you pick up your old battery fully charged it will work.

    They probably should charge a fee for loaner batteries per day too.

  17. They batteries may be at the Supercharger stations for energy storage, but Tesla has not yet put in a way to insert them into a Model S.

  18. Excuse me, the batteries, not they.

  19. Well, is that not what the presentation tomorrow is about? To show us how they plan on doing the swap?

  20. Weapon Zero, Better Place failed because they spent $950,000,000 to service 1000 cars. No point in investing in any system that has no compelling product. Now, if they had only spent a few tens of millions on a few staff, cheap offices and lots of plans, and waited for the Model S before they spent their entire $950,000,000...

  21. Actually I've thought of a case for battery swap. If you could buy a cheap car with a 100 mile battery, that could be swapped for a 400 mile battery loaner when you want to do a long trip, then that would be the best of both worlds. A cheap car to buy that can easily do long journeys! The Model S battery already has a long range though (60kW 208 miles), and even that version is far from cheap. Maybe this is in the works for the next gen car?

  22. Battery swap takes only a few minutes whereas the fastest supercharger requires a half an hour. With a 200 miles range, that would require 15 charges to go from the East Coast to the West Coast by car. Fifteen charges means over 7.5 hours of stopping. By contrast, 15 battery swaps should take less than 1.5 hours in total. That's six hours of time saved traveling cross-country USA.

  23. Just remember that you're talking 7.5 hours of charging versus 40+ hours of driving. Unless you are hell-bent on doing it as quickly as possible and rotate drivers, most of those charging times are going to be needed breaks so you won't actually lose that much time. Sure, it's a valid use case, but don't forget just how rare it is.

  24. even on long trips, my typical short stop is 10 minutes, enough time for coffee and a bathroom break. Usually every 4 hours, i stop for a meal.

  25. Not battery swapping again! The Superchargers are already the fastest chargers out there why swap what's the point? Who needs to drive 250 miles or more ,stop ,swap and instantly drive another 250 miles. I hope Tesla and especially Elon Musk aren't getting overly confident in their ability to make big ventures succeed, they've finally just become profitable and now they're going to take on battery swapping. I don't know, swapping has already crushed Better Place.

    I'm interested in hearing Elon's take on this, I just don't see why you'd need a fast swap in a Tesla. You've got the range and the Supercharger network, but swapping....why?

  26. The batteries are already there and paid for. Why not utilize them to max potential? And if they charge people by the day/hour for using a loaner battery. Then on the way back you just get your old battery back.

  27. Why not just drive as far as your comfortable driving on a single charge and then take a break at a Supercharger station? Stretch you legs, get a coffee, hit the restroom and then continue.

  28. I agree with you but look at this from this perspective:

    1) Lets say your in a hurry where time is vital, you may be willing to pay to do a swap quickly rather then wait.

    2) Lets say you bought the 60kwh model, and need to make a longer trip then your battery capacity.

    3) Tesla promised a 500 mile battery in 3-4 years. Imagine the value your car gains when you can battery swap to 500 miles for long distance travel?

    Most people will utilize the superchargers and take breaks. I don't disagree with you. But if the batteries are already there, why not utilize it? And Tesla can make money on the side by charging people hourly/daily for the battery renting.

  29. i'd say it's aimed at niche applications.

    Say you are taking a day trip to a meeting. You leave at 7 AM
    aiming for a lunch meeting. You are going like heck up 95, and
    need to get to the meeting. A 30 minute recharge hurts you, but, if you can do a fast battery swap, halfway, then you save minutes under the gun. It's a big deal if you are late to a hearing
    or some time critical medium distance meeting.

  30. Look, CD, the idea that the current Supercharger tech realistically offers a "gas car experience" is wrong. Many gas-powered cars have (a) far longer range and (b) have drivers that will go longer between stops and (c) have drivers that won't to stop for 20 minutes every 150-200 miles.

    Eventually, there needs to be a way to travel longer without stopping or to stop for less time. The swapping could solve the latter problem sooner, if they are actually committed to a rollout.

  31. There is a way to gain shorter charge times, battery evolution. The real problem is most consumers are pushing for advancements that will take time. Am I the only person willing to give electric cars time to evolve? Batteries will not stay the way they are now, just like TVs didn't stay in black and white.

  32. Agreed Mark. Not everyone needs to stop so often for so long. When I'm taking a trip a 5 minute fill up and restroom break is all I need. Many people often swap drivers on long trips to avoid fatigue and delays. Excuses like "no one needs to drive for that long" or "you stop for lunch and let the car charge" may be fine solutions for some people, but in reality it's just a way of trying to justify the longer break you need to charge an EV rather than gas up an ICE. Until we do see battery evolution to the point when range is no longer an issue there will always be the decision of trading time in exchange for not using gasoline.

  33. Could be planning for the future. Tesla's longstanding stated goal is an affordable mass-market car.
    Even if cheap high-capacity batteries appear tomorrow, you still need to be able to charge them and long lines at the Superchargers won't cut it.

  34. The point is Tesla pays nothing for a "marketing" budget. Tesla let's it's engineering do the advertising. So one more nail in the coffin for range anxiety, using mainly technology they were going to install with the Superchargers, which are mainly technology they use to charge and store energy in the cars.

    On real estate that purportedly costs next to nothing since the landlords are happy to provide chargers for Teslas (well heeled customers), which get energy for free using solar city technology with tesla battery and charging technology. Starting to see a pattern here.

  35. Is Tesla following Better Places lead in the battery swap shop?

  36. That is what I suspect. Better Place was a failed business model and Tesla should not go down that rabbit hole. Faster charging and batteries that hold longer charges is the only way to go. This battery swapping, short term concept has got to go. I'm definitely not in favor of a business model that will hook consumers into paying more to travel.

  37. Here's some pure speculation - the battery swap demonstration has more to do with Gen lll than the Model S. Buy a car with a 100 mile range battery for daily use but swap it out for a big one to go long distances on the supercharger network. It could make the Gen lll less expensive and more flexible. As for now, I have a 60 kWh Model S and I would be really interested in renting an 85 kWh battery (or bigger?) for traveling.

  38. Great point Norm, a 200 or even 100 mile battery for home, commuting and errands, and bolt in a 500 mile battery for long trips faster than filling up an ICE. Solves a lot of issues. And gets vastly cheaper as battery technology improves.

    No extra cost and weight to lug around when going 4 miles to and from the drycleaners, and five minutes after getting to a supercharger, a full 500 mile range battery for longer trips, even emergencies.

  39. Or maybe a future commercial vehicle application... ?

  40. Not everyone will want to swap their batteries out. But why not offer the service? At the very minimum it will be a convenient way to upgrade or service the battery if needed.

    This is another way Tesla is offering the "everything car". It slices, dices, has zero emissions, powers your house in an emergency and it swaps the battery in under 5 minutes!

  41. Exactly. Tesla Will have the everything car. Not everyone will be willing or able to wait 30 to 40 minutes for a supercharge. Tesla may also let you rent an 85 kilowatt hour if you have a 60 kilowatt hour battery. In order to make longer trip on a rare occasion. Tesla with Super charger's and if that's not fast enough hows about a 5 minute or less baatery swap shows that they are dedicated to support their Model S buyers. Imaginge an electric car with no compromising.

  42. We are talking about 60KWh and 85KWh version of the battery.

    That is A LOT OF EXPENSIVE batteries sitting around waiting to be "swapped" out...

  43. Relatively expensive yes, but what if they weren't just sitting there? What if they were charged off-peak every night and then discharged every day during peak hours? Granted that it isn't a fortune but it is a steady return on investment between swaps.

  44. So you are proposing that these expensive batteries are worn out for grid purposes and that customers receive batteries that are only partially charged because they are involved in grid operations?

  45. The won't be worn out that much. Even if they are used for 10 years, fully charged and discharged every day, they will still have over 80% capacity. Which is over 200 miles range still. Maybe higher since they can keep them in near perfect conditions.

    As far as receiving batteries partly charged is unlikely. Considering the operation, Tesla might require that people reserve batteries in advanced of at least 1 hour.

  46. So an owner will swap out their "brand new" battery with a "degraded battery"?

    That is an expensive car we are talking about here. it is NOT like Tesla is giving everyone a $30k discount for doing this...

  47. @Chris O - you guarantee a rental car or hotel room will be available by calling in a reservation, so... Also, if a battery has been grid cycled so many times that it is no longer useful for rental, then it is still useful for more grid cycling, and the return on investment continues. I don't know about commercial potential but the PG&E residential difference between off-peak and peak rates is almost 10 cents per kWh. So maybe $2500 per year base income, plus rentals. Remember the main purpose here is to sell cars, not get rich on battery rentals.

  48. But how does the PG&E on/off peak rate correlates with battery swapping demand rate?

    I am willing to bet that there are FAR MORE people demanding the battery swap during PG&E's peak hour than off peak hour. So you have to keep those battery fully charged during PG&E's peak hour.

    Not to mention that Solar city is already doing that with the superchargers to take advantage of rates differences.

  49. Not to mention that some batteries have to be fully charged and ready for customers. You never know when they are going to show up...

    Also, battery power feeding back to the grid in off peak hour won't generate enough $$$ for Tesla. The off peak hours are also when the demand for battery swap is fairly low...

  50. they can leverage Solar City, use solar charging during the day, use off peak grid at night, use battery to manage the surge. it's actually a very promising model.

  51. So, someone is willing to swap out his "brand new" battery with something that is pretty "used"?

  52. Battery swap stations and Supercharger stations have got to be massively expensive, I hope Tesla can afford all this. When you think about it no other car company pays to own and operate any type of refueling station network.

  53. I know.

    Not to mention that is lots of $$$$ sitting around NOT generating revenue...

  54. Every car sold, they make you pay 2k upfront for all this. The network pays for itself as long as people continue to buy Tesla cars.

  55. Still you have to admit maintaining a charging network on top of managing a new car company is a little risky.

  56. 2k still doesn't even cost 10% of the battery cost and maintanence.

    In order for it to make senses, there has to be enough battery packs for EVERY swapping stations and they have to be at least placed every 200 miles or so... That is a lot of batteries for a lot of coverage.

  57. I dont think this will be for the public, more likly to be a thing for companys with fleets, like taxi fleets. They will probably be able to get their own swapping station for just their fleet.

  58. i suspect the stations are underwritten by the states.

  59. time is money;

    'fast' battery swap = pay
    'slow' battery charge = free to tesla owners

  60. pure speculation: is this the reason they dropped the 40kWh battery from factory? to allow for swapping on a lower capacity vehicle, possibly not the model s (so as to make a differentiator between the model s and the next vehicle)? Is this the only way that Tesla can continue to reduce the price of the next model?

  61. Actually, I am a little bit worried with this news.

    Tesla is willing to go with the battery swapping route instead of the faster charging route. Does Tesla see a potential roadblock in battery improvment? Or at least the speed of which battery and charging improves?

    This can't be cheaper than supercharger stations...

  62. But it would be good for taxi companys, or companys with car fleets that are not idel during night.
    I dont think this will be avaleble for the privat car owner.

  63. Do you see any taxi company affording a $80K Tesla S?

    I don't.

  64. I'd rather see a fuel cell with swappable tanks.

  65. The Better Place idea wasn't bad, but there was nothing in it for the big auto manufacturers who could care less if EV's succeed or not. If EV's fail, that's okay by them. But Tesla is is strictly in the EV business, and determined to eventually make a mainstream, affordable family car that can actually travel long distances. Battery swapping is the fastest solution for that. Musk understands that. He knows that if the mainstream public holds back fearing that either they couldn't travel far, or that recharging would take up too much time from their vacation, it would kill the deal. Musk is not stupid. He's sending rockets into space. He knows what's wants to accomplish.

  66. I think they will ame this at say taxi fleets and company cars that need to drive all the time uninterupted.
    Imagine if you are a taxi company with your own swapping station.. Then you all of a suden have the quick fillup time of a gasoline car with a fraction of the fuel cost :)

  67. Quite

  68. Fraction of the fuel cost? But your "tank" cost 10000x more....

  69. Supercharge stations are a lot more cost effective compared to swapping. It seems to me that Battery swapping on a national basis would be much too expensive.

  70. Tesla Motors is the
    new Apple of the worldwide car industry ! !

    Official web


    Official video


    In Depth



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