As promised, on Thursday night Telsa Motors revealed its new battery swapping technology at a demonstration event at Tesla’s Design Studio in California.
The demo involved swapping out the battery pack of two Tesla Model S cars while a crowd looked on, so the pressure was on for the technology to perform flawlessly. To drive home the point that an electric car battery can be swapped out in less time than it takes to fill a conventional car at a gas station, the demonstration was shown next to a previously shot video of a car being filled up at a pump. Tesla CEO Elon Musk emphasised that they had searched Los Angeles for a gas station that pumped gasoline the fastest, which is about 10 gallons per minute.
As you can see in the video, the demonstration went according to plan. In fact, as the battery swapping only takes around 90 seconds per car, it turns out you can swap out batteries on 2 model S cars in the time it takes to fill up 1 similar sized car with gasoline (which happened to be an Audi in the demo).
With this battery swapping technology, Musk explained that the Tesla Model S (and presumably every future model) will have the option out on the road to stop at a Tesla Supercharger station, and either plug in and charge up in less than half an hour for free, or pay to swap out the battery in 90 seconds. As Musk said, the options are now “free or fast”. Seems reasonable.
A fully charged battery swap will apparently cost around the same as 15 gallons of gas, which is about US$60. Because the battery packs themselves are the most expensive part of buying the car, and they do degrade over time like any battery, you will be able to keep track of your orignal pack. You wouldn’t want to be stuck with a much older, more degraded pack after a swap. You will be able to get your own battery pack back again, fully charged, for a similar fee. Alternatively, you will apparently be able keep the swapped battery pack for a yet-to-be-revealed fee.
We’ll provide more details on Tesla’s new battery swapping scheme at a later date, as they come to hand.