Swapping will take 90secs....Return the pack on your journey back or keep it & we'll bill you the difference

Swapping will take 90secs....Return the pack on your journey back or keep it & we'll bill you the difference

Live streamin on Tesla twitters acount

TFMethane | 20 June 2013

Hmmm... Bill the difference? based on charge or age of battery? How long do they story "my" battery for me to come back and pick it up? They would have to have a lot of underground storage space and the ability to sort batteries under there very quickly.

So, I presume that, after a certain amount of time they would give my battery to someone else. If they are basing the "bill the difference" on age of battery, do they take into account how the previous user treated the battery? Do they base it on testing and knowing the performace characteristics of that particular used battery? what if the "used" battery I get has LESS remaining life on it that my current one (either by age or by performance)? Do I get a refund for the difference?

Or, do they just keep shipping out new batteries on the highway and keep the old ones stored next to the station for return back to Freemont (or a service center)?

I just can't wait the 22 minutes until these questions are all answered.

Docrob | 20 June 2013

The simplest role for this I can see is so you can buy a 60kwh car for day to day driving then rent an 85kwh battery (or bigger in the near future)a few times a year for longer roadtrips before returning to retrieve your own battery. paying tens of thousands more for a battery whose full capacity is only used a few times a year is a little silly, renting one on the other hand...
This avoids all the questions of what happens to your own battery, what about maintenance and abuse etc. You own your own battery, drop it off for a higher capacity rental then get your own back on your return.

vgrinshpun | 20 June 2013

The battery most likely has a data logger collecting information pertinent to the battery "used life" assessment, based on some kind of Tesla proprietary battery life model.

DouglasR | 20 June 2013

Yeah, the catch is that you have to find your old battery in the pile, and install it yourself. Or you can pay the difference, about $40k. :)

hsadler | 20 June 2013

Guess this would also work (if you have the 85K) to 'move up' to a hypothetical 120K or whatever becomes available.

mdemetri | 20 June 2013


Yes, way too many questions; maybe we will get better answers but IMO, main pack swapping looks like a bad idea


That would make the 85's (icluding me) pretty unhappy; many of us spent the extra 10K for the increased range for long distance travel. If I knew that I could get an 85 pack for my few long distance trips, my decision making may have been very different. Moving forward, I can see this bleeding sales away from the 85 to the 60; maybe thats what Elon wants but does not make buisness sense.

mdemetri | 20 June 2013

@TeslaMotors @elonmusk: pack swaps start on busiest corridors, I5 in CA. Each station costs about 500k to build.

500K per station!!!! Are they crazy, this is way more than the superchargers for a service that few if any will use.

Bubba2000 | 20 June 2013

Meh! This is all too complicated and messy. I want simplicity. I do not want to go to the gas station, dealer for oil, filter change, etc. Last thing I want is mess with with a battery swap and who knows what i end up with. For the rare trips I take beyond 200 miles, I can use the supercharger... 20-40 minutes is not big deal at nice coffee shop or restaurant. Want some classy facilities. Otherwise, use the wife's ICE auto.

Who got the time to do a cross country trip anyways? In the rare cases, I want to rent a Winnebago all stocked-up. Drop off the rental and take the flight back home. No dragging back home and messy cleaning. Same with boats.

Docrob | 20 June 2013

If people can only afford a 60kwh vehicle but need the range of the 85kwh vehicle then the ability to Battery swap would be the difference between selling a car and not selling a car. How does that not make business sense?

85's can be unhappy if they wish, and perhaps they will be able to swap their 85 for a 60 at a battery swap station and get a partial refund from Tesla, however they bought their 85's of their own free will and to say that Tesla should not develop systems in the future to increase the utility and functionality for their other customers because you chose an 85 to begin with is a little selfish. They clearly said upgrading may be possible in the future but they could not guarantee it therefore you should get the vehicle which best suits your needs now and in the foreseeable future, there's really not any more they can do. The alternative would have been people buying undersized batteries on the assumption Tesla will roll out a swapping infrastructure, For Tesla then to decide that it is not technically or commercially feasible and strand their customers with undersized batteries, I would think they would have more to be angry about then people with larger batteries then their needs.

Docrob | 20 June 2013

Bubba2000, if you want simplicity its simple, don't swap your battery, you do realise this is optional right?

DouglasR | 20 June 2013

Did he say the 60 could swap for an 85?

For what they are spending on the swap stations, they could double or triple the number of superchargers. That would be good for both the 60s and the 85s.

Who wants to spend $100 to save 20 minutes, and then spend possibly thousands to keep the battery if you don't want to return by the same route you took out. I don't think these things will get much use.

mdemetri | 20 June 2013


Your arguement makes no sense. Why did Tesla give the 40's a 60kwh pack but then limit it to 40kwh range??? Because they paid 10k less.

DouglasR previously suggested that for the 60's, the swapped battery will be software limited to 60kwh even if it is an 85kwh pack. This would make much more sense. Profit margins are much greater on 85's than 60's, so it makes much more buisness sense to maximize sales of 85's over 60's. Allowing 60's to rent an 85kwh pack for long trips will unquestionably reduce 85kwh sales (unless they offer a 120kwh battery swap for the 85's).

Logical_Thinker | 20 June 2013

Anybody here actually HEARD the $99 per swap at the demo (from Elon et al, not some random bloke in the audience)?

Guys, cool your jets:
This is PR. People will now think "OH, a battery can be swapped faster than a gas fill up. Electric cars are actually practical." Then when they get the electric car, they might decide to supercharge. LOL.

Docrob | 20 June 2013

Doug, your getting a bit carried away, they could build three superchargers for every swap station but they are not talking about rolling out more then a few swap stations, at this stage anyway at least, I think there is potential worth exploring and if one swap station as a pilot project costs $0.5million then that's nothing in the scheme of things for Tesla. If it turns out to be successful and popular the potential upside is huge. In large part this is marketing for Tesla as much as a practical solution. If the answer to your last paragraph is not you then guess what? you don't have to use them.

gimp_dad | 20 June 2013

I don't agree with this whole argument about battery swap negating the value of 85. The easiest time to live with a 60 would be when driving on the highway from swap to swap. If it is really 90 seconds, who cares if you have to stop a little bit more frequently?

The reason to have an 85 is for daily driving or anytime when you *don't* think you will have access to a supercharger or battery swap when you want it. The second reason is performance.

It doesn't bother me a bit that I bought my P85 back in August last year for full price and that a current 60 owner could upgrade to 85 by keeping the swapped battery. And it doesn't bother me that any of us can pay for a swap while on the road in order to expedite our trip.

Now if they will just offer me a swap to a 120 for $15-20k, I will be thrilled...

Bryan M. | 20 June 2013

I like the idea to keep it simple it's all about optionality

Bubba2000 | 20 June 2013

Docrob, I agree with you. I am also an investor and I want the company to use its limited resources in the most efficient way:
1. Deploy superchargers quickly of the simple kind with no solar panels... add these later. Spend $150,000 for each station with 4-6 chargers. Nationwide deploy 200-300... 100 miles apart. Will drive demand.
2. Offer long range batteries using the newer Panasonic 4Ah batteries. Fully populated the pack is good for 500 miles. Range sells. Costs will come down over time.
3. Spend the money for Model X.
4. Use economies of scale to drive cost, price down.

Battery swap is too messy, capital intensive. Keep things simple. 20 min recharge good an extra 150 miles is more than enough. Can not remember last time I drove that far. Most people don't.

mdemetri | 20 June 2013

Ya, this could all be about marketing to the ICE owners. In that vein, it certainly could help with sales. Once the newb's get the car they will realize that swapping is not necessary and home + super-charging is al that is needed.

TFMethane | 20 June 2013

@DouglasR: +1 I could see a road trip that I thought was going to cost me $0 in transportation fees winding up costing $1500 for a "battery difference" fee. It could potentially be even worse as my car gets older.

Also, if I pay the "battery difference" fee (I'm guessing this is the difference between the current condition of my battery and the new or used one I pick up), do I reset or adjust the clock of my battery lifetime guarantee? If I pay 2K to swap for a brandy new battery, I want my 8 year clock to start again.

Logical_Thinker | 20 June 2013

+1 Docrob.
This is marketing, pure and simple. 'If it happens to catch on' [a near quote of what Musk said], then Tesla may expand it to all SC stations

Docrob | 20 June 2013

Medemetri, It does make sense, yes they limited it to 40kw because thats what they paid for, just as if I pay $200 to hire an 85kwh pack for a week then I should get to use an 85kwh pack for a week, and if I pay $300 to hire a 120kwh pack for a week then I should get to use a 120kwh pack. The profit margin may be higher on an 85kwh car then a 60kwh car (we don't know that without knowing exactly what Tesla pays for batteries which we don't know) but the profit margin on no sale is 0, in other words if this extra functionality tips people who can only afford a 60kwh car into choosing to buy then it is well worth it from a business point of view.

DouglasR | 20 June 2013

Docrob, at the Reuters interview, Elon said they would roll this out to all supercharger stations at a total cost of $50 - $100 million. For 200 stations, that comes to $250,000-$500,000 each. This is a large investment. If it's just a demonstration project, I don't have a problem. But under the terms outlined (one swap = price of a tank of gas, pay the difference if you don't return and take your battery back), I just don't foresee much demand for this service.

riceuguy | 20 June 2013

And as for the business case, when I have to drive to Dallas or Waco from Austin for work, I'll happily pay $50 (not $99...I doubt that will be the real price) to not have to wait.

Docrob | 20 June 2013

They're clearly not going to go all in and spend $100 million up front, they will have a few initially in major centers, NYC, LA, Chicago etc. If they see a lot of traffic then they will roll out more widely, if they see very little then those can remain for marketing purposes and they need not spend anymore. This is the perfect example of letting the market decide what it wants.

PapaSmurf | 20 June 2013

If the price per swap is really $99 versus a free Supercharger, then I doubt that this will ever expand beyond the test swap stations. There won't be enough volume to justify Tesla spending $500,000 per swap station.

They might get a few swaps per day if someone is really in a hurry, but this is likely a 1% or 2% item compared to the number of people who will instead use the free Superchargers.

Is saving $50 to $100 worth 15 minutes to 30 minutes of your time? That is the value question every owner will have to ask.

Bryan M. | 20 June 2013

People don't like waiting I think it will catch on more than we think

DouglasR | 20 June 2013

What do you suppose someone does when traveling from SF to LA or Seattle to SF, where you would need to use several superchargers/swap stations? Could you swap at each one? It might get complicated to use four or five batteries, and have to return each one to the station of origin.

mdemetri | 20 June 2013


So I assume you would be ok with th 40's paying a small fee to increase their range to 60 every now and simply when they need it (no swap needed here, just software). >95% of drivers only requires a 40kwh pack for daily driving; it is for longer and infrequent trips that a lrger battery pack is needed.

Docrob | 20 June 2013

I honestly expect this to be the ICE equivalent of a rental car. You have your 60kwh vehicle for daily driving then a few times a year when you want to do a longer trip you head off to the local swap center (which will most likely be colocated with or in the local service center and swap out for a 80, 100,120 or 150kwh battery, pay your hire fee then drop it back once back from your trip. It solves all the onwership issues, massively increases the functionality of the lower range vehicles and solves the range v cost dilemma.

Carefree | 20 June 2013

I'm very confused! Why would Elon think this was a good idea? If those battery swap stations are located where the Superchargers are, why on earth would I want to pay for this service when I can just charge my own battery in about 30 minutes?

If they'd install these stations in cities or near scenic areas (like the NPs) I could understand their thinking - but this approach doesn't make any sense to me.

uselesslogin | 20 June 2013

riceuguy, JamesM,

If it is $99 you get the swap on the way and then you get the swap on the way back for free. (of course you are just picking up your battery but that is easier to compare to the cost of gas.)

Docrob | 20 June 2013

I have no problem with the 40kwh vehicle owners having the option of paying a fee, say $180 to have a weeks access to 60kwh of battery capacity, they wouldn't even need to swap out battery obviously, and if they find the extra range useful they could pay the fee and have it permanently unlocked, you could even take the rental fee off the unlock fee if they choose not to go back.

TFMethane | 20 June 2013

OK. There is no 40kWh battery pack anymore. So I'm not sure why you guys are talking about it. Whether the 40's can pay a fee for this service is irrelevant to the future sales of MS's because the option is defunct. It is a valid argument for the 60's.

Also, has anyone actually heard of a 120kWh battery pack, or are you just hoping that one will be developed? I know that Elon said that 50% improvement in battery performance is "pretty much baked in" to the progress of battery technology over the next 10 years, but does such an animal actually exist?

pgiralt | 20 June 2013

Did Elon mention whether or not the battery you left behind would be recharged for you when you get it back? I would assume that it would. This could make it far more compelling as I assume you don't have to pay a swap fee to get your battery back, so you get two recharges, not just one for the price of the swap. If you stop to swap 250 miles into your trip, it doesn't sound too bad.

tobi_ger | 20 June 2013

@JamesM: thank you!

carlk | 20 June 2013

@DouglasR You swap as many times as you need. You just get your own battery back at end of the trip back home. Sounds like a very simple and manageable plan.

DouglasR | 20 June 2013

Wow! I have to say, that was an impressive demonstration.

Docrob, did Elon actually say you could swap out for a different size battery? Did he say anything about a new 100, 120, or 150 kWh pack? Where are you getting this?

mvannah | 20 June 2013

If you could use the swapped battery pack at superchargers the rest of your trip, that would be awesome! Such a scheme would extend the life of my 85kWh pack an additional 8 years, since I expect it to have the performance of the 60kWh pack in about 8 years. After about 16 years, I'll just have them bill me the difference on the 250kWh pack! The old packs could be used for off-grid storage applications for awhile. Hopefully it all plays out as well as it sounds!

PapaSmurf | 20 June 2013

According to that article, the fee is $60 to $80.

You pay the fee each time. When you get your rental and also when you pickup your original battery, which they recharge for you while you were gone.

So we are talking about $120 to $160 for using this process. I think I will mostly be using the Superchargers. I am not often in that much of a hurry.

Docrob | 20 June 2013

No, I'm talking about the possibility that battery swapping opens up, as long as the pack is the same form factor swap stations allow you to swap in a pack of any capacity, bigger, smaller etc it gives options and versatility and that sells cars.

mdemetri | 20 June 2013

JamesM - thanks for the link.

I have to say the swapping looks really amazing. A real engineering feat of the first order. Hats off to Tesla; really incredible.

But looking at the video gives me some pause on the saftey of the swap. The main pack is a critical structural component; anyone have qualms about swapping your battery in this way for safety reasons?

Still not convinced about the buisness case. This looks like a pure marketing gimmick. A beautiful one, but still marketing.

PapaSmurf | 20 June 2013

Here is more info on Forbes.

50 battery packs in stations to start.

Musk said the service would be offered for the price of about 15 gallons of gas at the going local rate, but of course “it will be more convenient.” And really, that’s true since aside from the time savings, you don’t need to leave the car. The company will bill a credit car on file for the cost. If you’re making a return trip, you can pick up your pack on the way back — again fully charged — for the same “pack swap” price. That’s currently about $60-80, Musk figured. If you don’t want to make another swap, you’ll have options:

1.Keep the pack you received on the first swap. If it’s newer, Tesla will bill you for the difference, though the amount is to be determined. The warranty is the balance of the standard 8-year term, dependent on the age of the pack you received.

2.Return home on your borrowed pack and receive your original back from Tesla for a “transport fee,” which is also to be determined.

The swap packs will initially all be brand new, but Musk admitted that they will age over time so whether you get a new one or an older one will vary. You’ll always be able to get yours back one way or another.

Docrob | 20 June 2013

Mdemetri, Well like any business you simply divide the costs by the number of people using it, if there are 1 million uses of the swap stations a year and the roll out costs 100 million then you need to charge $100 a swap (plus a bit for system upkeep and profit) to pay for the system over a one year period. Very rough numbers obviously but just making the point that you can make a business case for anything that depends on total costs divided by usage plus a bit for a profit margin.
Don't understand your point about safety issues, every car already has the battery attached in the same way as the cars demonstrated tonight, and it is highly likely the machine that does the swap is identical to the machine that installs the battery at the factory only installed under an opening platform with marketing decals. I guess everytime you install and uninstall a piece of hardware there is a small possibility of not reattaching it correctly however with robotic systems it is highly unlikely.

ajamison | 20 June 2013

what I want to know is how long do you have to use the rented pack and return it before you need to swap back to your original pack and do you need to return to the same super charger to get the original back?

tobi_ger | 20 June 2013

For people not seeing the business case should also consider, that currently there is only a low volume of Teslas around (compared to total # of cars).
However, the Fremont factory is supposed to allow for 500K cars/year so in 2-5 years with new models coming the amount of customers willing to pay for battery swapping is going to increase accordingly.
Also, what if SuperChargers are then becoming more allocated when you show up, so that there is actually more waiting time involved on top of your charging time.
After all, it puts some ease on mind just to know that the option could/will be there eventually.

DouglasR | 20 June 2013

@James - interesting. I wonder how you install it if they ship it back to you? Also, what happens if the battery you get is older than the one you give? Do you get a credit?

I liked my idea better: the Home Depot gas canister model.

Benz | 20 June 2013

Are we able to say that this battery swap technology is going to change the game? I think it is.

mdemetri | 20 June 2013


Re safety: At the factory, there is quality control, live people and inspection. This will not be the case at swap stations. A bolt that is under torqued, even though it may occur at a very low frequency, could lead to serious issues.

DouglasR | 20 June 2013

Re: the business case

The business case is to sell cars, not to make money renting batteries. I have my doubts that this will be attractive enough to sell cars, but if it is, the cost is not too great.