Better Place (Battery Switching Stations)

Better Place (Battery Switching Stations)

Will Tesla Motors outfit all vehicles with compatible batteries in order to tap into the Better Place Network?

This co. will allow compatible vehicle consumers to use not only the Better Places charging stations but also their battery switching facilities all over the world. Signing up with the Better Place Network takes away mileage anxiety as now there will be 2 ways to get your vehicle from a to b (charging and battery switching). Being part of this network also reduces overall expenses as Better Place buys your battery from you. This not only reduces the cost of the vehicles initial cost but also subtracts your long term concerns as the battery ages and depreciates in value.

Here is the link to follow-up on this new wave of supporting the EV world.


Brian H | March 12, 2011

Tesla's batteries are very much their own, and unique. They are far better than any others on the market; having Better Place own and manage them is very unlikely.

band27 | March 12, 2011

I figured as much. Besides, if there is a co. out there that can stand on it's own, it's tesla motors. No one at this time can match the mileage capabilities of these vehicles.

I guess if anything, I was hoping for a universal option besides charging the battery. This would make this car unstoppable. As better place states, switching out the battery would take less then 2 min. Which is less than pumping gas.

I wondering if tesla's battery can be switched out and replaced by newer technological batteries or will they force you to buy a new car?
I believe that a new car will be forced upon us. However, part of the appeal of these cars is the ability to switch these batteries as new technologies evolve. But I hope this is not the case.

The question is, will tesla allow for such flexibility? The Better Place's Network does protect clients from this so as newer battery solutions come forth to the market place, will tesla give their clients the option to upgrade?

Sudre | March 12, 2011

"I wondering if tesla's battery can be switched out and replaced by newer technological batteries "

I don't think Tesla will have much of a choice over time. All they can do is tell me I will void my warranty if I don't use their battery. This works great but I don't think Tesla is offering an unlimited warranty. Sooner or later it will run out and I will do what I want with the car. Altho I don't see anyone beating their tech for quite a while.

If a battery swap company says they have a battery that can be swapped into my car that is better or more convenient I would use it as long as they would guarantee it would not harm my car. As long as that guarantee is there I don't think Tesla would mind because the battery company will be paying for my repairs if their battery caused the issue.

I also do not see a Tesla dealer not wanting to make money by selling me a better or newer battery since Tesla went thru all the trouble to design the Model S with a quick change battery option. It seems to me to build a car with that option means the company wants you to be able to swap batteries for whatever reason.

msiano17 | March 13, 2011

I spoke with a Rep and said "most likely Tesla will develop a new battery that is compatible with the current specs so that owners can simply buy the new battery technology out there and swap it and have a new battery in their existing cars."

should answer the debate

band27 | March 13, 2011

Great, thanks msiano17 for helping with this topic. Upgrading to new battery technologies is very important to me in this market. It also makes the car more future proof.

I still think that having the option of going to a Better Place Battery Switching Station would provide people with the ultimate backup in addition to simply charging their car but as I stated previously, tesla is at the forefront of battery mileage so it won't effect their sales unless all manufacturers join the Better Place Network and they don't, as the Better Place is currently being developed international making long distance trips competitive to gas stations. Switching out the battery in these facilities are done automatically and less then 1min 30sec. Thus timing to top up is actually superior to a gas stations.


aputman96 | March 14, 2011

This is a fantastic ideal, battery switching. But my only negative thought is how do you control what battery you are receiving. Perhaps an example will better describe my hesitation. What if: I buy my car in L.A. Then drive it home to Sacramento. On the way, I stop at a battery swap station. they take my BRAND NEW 100% efficient battery and give me a 3 year old 87% efficient battery with a full charge. I just lost 13% of my battery. How does the company either prevent or compensate for that eventuality?

band27 | March 14, 2011

Actually, the way it works is you would buy a compatible car from the Better Place or straight from the dealer that is affiliated and the battery is owned by the Better Place Network. So realistically, when u r switching out batteries, it doesn't matter about the one that u bought your car with it isn't yours to begin with. That's what makes this great as Better Place owns the battery.

Just think of this like a cell phone plan. Your car is the cell phone and your fuel (mileage) is like the minutes of your cell phone plan. You select a plan depending on how much u drive. Just like u select a cell phone plan that matches your usage. Denmark is already being setup with this network and pricing.

Hope this helps...

SteveU | March 15, 2011

I've talked to some of the people at Better Place. They don't see it my way and I don't see it their way.
I think the point about the battery age is very important. Even if you don't own the battery, if your normal drive distance is close to the limit of the battery you may really care whether you get a pretty new battery or a fairly old battery. This may be the difference between having to stop to swap batteries every day and not ever having to stop to swap batteries on your normal days.
I think the key to Better Place is that it eliminates range anxiety... particularly in small countries (such as Israel and Denmark--two of the places that they are starting in). In a small country you basically will never have to swap batteries. But being able to swap batteries lets you feel comfortable about having an electric car. Conversely I think this approach doesn't work at all in a large country (you replace range anxiety with battery age anxiety).
Just my opinion. The market will prove who is right.

Ad van der Meer | March 15, 2011

I think Better Place is aiming at people who can't charge at home or work. If you can charge at home or work and keep the battery charged for most of the year, Better Place it not very useful and probably too expensive.

Timo | March 15, 2011

IIRC Better Place also offers fast charging, not only battery swapping. If they want to have future at all they need that.

band27 | March 15, 2011

Yes Steveu, I agree that would be my greatest reservation for using the swap battery stations. With that, I would only do so in an emergency.

However, that is when I set my focus on battery tech and I starting asking, which lithium ion batteries does Tesla use because Lithium Iron Sulphate does Not degrade like other lithium ions. Better Place uses these advance Iron Sulphate batteries that have a 2000 life cycle. They will work as new until the death. Better Place monitors the cycles, how much juice everyone is using and thus preventing battery failure. That's when I became a fan again of the Better Place network.

We will have to wait and see down the road if this is a reality.

ChristianG | March 16, 2011

my main concern still is that the cars will have differnet battery packs in the near future, so they have to store quiet some different batteries in each better place. Also just one or two of each pack type will not do it as they have to recharche them too and will need a few houres to do so... so the initial cost to buy another location for the better place project is way more expensive than just a charging station.

it looks like it works if you keep the battery pack types small and there arn't too many people using the same better place...

but then, the worst case scenario is just waiting till they have charged your battery wich would be the same as at the charging stations... maybe even faster.

so I'm pretty skeptic about it being profitable, but as they are a fast charging station in the worst case it also seems to be a good project..

VolkerP | March 16, 2011


if your concerns arise from the issues you stated, there is information on these from interviews with Shai Agassi, CEO better place:

better place swap stations will need to hold at most 20 packs of every type. The bp packs are fast charged inside the station within 20min (obviously, this cannot be done with every battery chemistry). A swap process takes a 1 minute wait for a vehicle. After 20 continuous swaps, the first "depleted" pack will be ready again.
Since swapping the pack should be a rare event, they calculate they need only a few percent of all battery packs waiting inside swap stations. The rest is running in cars and earning money.
A swap station basically consists of a powerful electric mains connection, the exchange robot, an underground charging + cooling bay for up to 20 battery packs and additional rack space for "idle" packs. Only known types of battery packs can be handled inside the station, of course. Charging and cooling connections must be established and disengaged automatically.
A swap station comes cheaper than a gasoline pump station. Construction time approaches 1 week during final roll out now in Israel.

band27 | March 16, 2011

To ChristianG, bottom line, only cars that are affiliates to the Better Place Network are able to use the Battery Swapping Stations. Thus, there will always be the same Lithium Iron Sulphate battery that will be switching. Car manufactures affiliated with the Better Place Network will have to meet the required dimensions of the battery as well. This assures a universal standard for Better Place members all over the world.

I believe that charging stations will be compatible with all other cars regardless of battery type.

Brian H | March 17, 2011

so what? If it gets you where you're going, it doesn't matter. And the next swap you'll get yet another battery, maybe a newer one. In any case, you don't own the battery, so no loss of value is possible.

All you pay for is the electricity and access to the system.

aputman96 | March 19, 2011

Brian--good point. Since my post, I've learned that I'm not really buying the battery so much as I am [leasing] the idea of a battery in my car. Subscribe to the system and the system will take care of you. Just like a hydrocarbon fuel, do I risk driving until my fuel light comes on, or do I pull into the station and recharge when I'm passing a station? thanks all for the food for thought, Steve U has it right (8 post up)--rapid recharge OR battery swap, let the market decide. Beta vs VHS, Blu-ray vs HD-DVD, the market always decides what's best in each environment.

Volker.Berlin | March 20, 2011

Beta vs VHS, Blu-ray vs HD-DVD, the market always decides what's best in each environment.

No. It was the porn industry that decided these. ;-)

Timo | March 20, 2011

For Beta vs VHS that's true, for blue-ray vs HD-DVD it is not.

For those that don't know beta was technologically superior to VHS.

Volker.Berlin | May 3, 2011

Seems like Tesla wants to give battery swapping a different twist:

Elon Musk is quoted as saying: "When people take an occasional two-way long distance trip, they'll get a replacement pack and then pick up their original one on the way back. The issue of giving up your one-year old pack for a three-year old one goes away."

Does anyone have first-hand sources/more details on this?

Volker.Berlin | May 3, 2011

Forgot to mention: I am pretty skeptic on this one. Seems like a half-baked idea, impractical in reality. Not only would you need a swapping station somewhere on your way and somewhere between half-way of your trip and the point of battery depletion (which tend to be very close together on longer trips), but you would also have to take the same road for your way back. And hey, he did not mention that service will only be available between 9 am and 7 pm... (just kidding, but...)

Here is the original source:

jkirkebo | May 3, 2011

I think you misunderstand the concept. If you need to go on a long road trip, you can take your car to your local Tesla store a day or two in advance (or even the same morning if you and the store have time) and get your 160 mile pack exchanged for a 300 mile pack for the duration of your trip. Then you can drive 300 miles between charging when on your way, instead of 160 miles (which is not very practical).

When you get back, you visit the store again and get your old pack back and pay rent for the days you were using the 300 mile pack.

Me, I'd rather buy the 300 mile pack from the start.

Volker.Berlin | May 4, 2011

@jkirkebo, that makes a lot more sense to me. However, if Musk intended to suggest what you explained, that would mean that Tesla owners with 300 mile batteries would have nothing to gain from his suggestion. I find this a bit irritating, b/c that would mean that Tesla has nothing to offer for their most potent and most far-travelling customers.

I still think what you suggest is a good idea and I hope that Tesla will offer something like that. The concept makes the Model S more affordable and more useful for more people. But it is really not a "competitive" idea to the Better Place concept, not even related. It does not help one bit to make road trips that exceed the maximum available battery capacity.

VolkerP | May 4, 2011

In 2013, Tesla may offer to lease *experimental* 450 mile battery packs to "friendly users" to gain field test data. Starting from 2015, the 450 mile battery pack would be for rental or sale to all customers.

With 450 mile pack available, we no longer need bigger battery packs, we need faster charging for our Teslas.

Volker.Berlin | May 4, 2011

@VolkerP, I believe it when I see it. ;-)

Fancy mile numbers aside, I do not believe in the "friendly users" concept. Selecting beta users is already hard, but explaining to the rest of the world why they are excluded from some desirable technology without offending anyone seems to be even harder. From a marketing perspective at least, they should offer new batteries (or other hardware) to everybody, or nobody. It is either finished and publicly available, or not. That may not be entirely true from a technical perspective, but it is much easier to communicate.

And by the way, I am not even sure if I would like to drive my family around sitting on some "experimental" battery pack... ;-)

jkirkebo | May 4, 2011

With the 300 mile pack, we do not need battery swaps but fast DC chargers. After driving 200+ miles I need to take a break anyway, get somethink to eat etc. Perfect opportunity for 30-60 minutes of fast charging.

David70 | May 4, 2011

Availability of level 3 charging stations, and Tesla having the appropriate connectors could be a deal breaker for me. Most of the year I can probably get by just using level 1 charging, but at least once a year I'll be making a round trip from eastern Washington to southern California. I don't mind driving 180 miles (or 240 miles if I could afford the 300 mile pack) and then charging up to 2 hours. However, even with the fastest level 2 charging, trip time would be at least doubled. e.g. 240 V, 70 A would only give you about 65 miles per hour of charging. Not to mention time and distance lost getting to the charging station.

viao44 | May 4, 2011

I think the battery swap is ideal if we cannot charge fast enough to be practical.

I would pay for such a service. I dont need to own my battery. I think of it like the 'Rhino Propane Exchange' for propane grills.

If the battery from the swapping station is really sub-standard because its old or damaged then I have a customer complaint.

Also, if EV consumers didnt own their own battery...

-Wouldnt that help insure that batteries are disposed of or recycled properly?

-Eliminate the cost of home based 'fast charge systems' (for those of us who have a hard time affording an EV in the first place)?

-Offer consumers improved battery tech without the up-front investment? (say 4 years from now a better bettery chemistry is available)

-Wouldnt it help EV owners avoid having to replace a battery pack after it reached the end of its usable life?

I feel that swapping is a good solution

David70 | May 4, 2011


I'm one of those that can barely afford an EV. If they would lease the extra 140 miles of packs for trips of 1000 to 1500 miles one way, I'd be all for it.

The question then would be "How much does it cost?"

Presumably it would be rated on a cost per mile basis.

If the $20,000 set of packs were expected to last 100,000 miles. That would average 20 cents/mile. Of course, addition cost for labor, warehousing, etc.

It could be worth it, if one saved that initial $20,000.

In 10 years, the round trips I'm describing would cover less than 30,000 miles. Even if you were charged 40 cents/mile, it would be cheaper than buying the packs outright.

Plus you'd have the additional advantages you mentioned.

asgard1 | May 5, 2011

Thr Rhino propane comparison is wonderful. The cost of replacing the battery gets split up over each swap instead of one big charge at the end (or for new tech as mentioned). For someone like me who commutes 100 miles each way daily and could use up a battery wuth 100,000 mile lifetime in two years, I could spread the cost a bit better since I don't forsee being able to reasonably finance battery replacement.