Michael Donoughe recently resigned as Tesla Motors engineering chief, but he did not leave quietly. On his way out, he revealed information about the upcoming Model S that has not been publicized before. According to Donoughe, the Model S is designed to be capable of battery swapping.
Donoughe admitted that the Model S engineering, "Is not at all wedded to Better Place." Instead, stating that the design of an easily removable battery also makes the installation process at the factory easier, likely reducing costs. As Donoughe said, "As long as you're designing for manufacturing and assembly you can also design for manufacturing, assembly and swap. That's basically what we're looking to do."
A battery swap capable car could extend the useable range of a vehicle. According to Better Place, swaps will take place in under 5 minutes and are similar to filling a conventional vehicle with gasoline.
The information comes as Renault recently announced via website that all of their current crop of EV concepts will be battery swap capable. Perhaps more companies believe that the battery swap model may eventually be in high demand.
Just because the Model S is swap capable, doesn't imply that the process will work. The release of the Model S is scheduled for 2011. Battery swapping facilities are virtually non-existent. Factor in that the Model S is supposed to be available with three different battery sizes allowing for additional range, and the difficulty of swapping batteries becomes apparent.
Battery swapping could be a feasible method for extending the range of many vehicles including the Model S, but this quick change option appears to be years away.