Swap Demo - Crowdsourced Projections

Swap Demo - Crowdsourced Projections

So it's official: we're on for a very exciting live demo Thursday. (Will be there for sure).

New battery swapping technology will let you add charge to you Model S in less time than gas.

Here's your chance to show your chops as a Tesla forum expert. Make your educated guesses at the following specs:

1. Capacity added per pack swap (kWH): 85, 60, 40 ... ?

2. Sub components per pack: 1, 2, 4 ...?

3 Weight of each component (lbs): 1,000, 200, 100, 40 .., ?

4. Swap hardware option cost: $2k, $1K, $500, free .... ?

5. Exchange fee per swap: $199, $99. $69 .... .?

6. Swap Locations: TM Service centers, SC's, TM Swap centers, existing retailers ... ?

Ply your wits and see how well the wisdom of the crowd predicts the results.

Winning prediction gets halo post.

Mark K | June 18, 2013

My shot -

1. 60
2. 4
3. 40
4. $500
5. $49
6. Selected Retsilers

Mark K | June 18, 2013


Jolinar | June 18, 2013

I'm guessing they will swap whole battery from the car.

1. your own pack capacity - so 85 or 60
2. 1
3. ~1250 lbs
4. $500 for new cars, $2000 for retrofitting old cars
5. $15 for 85kWh, $10 for 60kWh battery pack
6. TM service centers and TM swap centers

Nicu.Mihalache | June 18, 2013

The entire battery will be swapped. So 1-3 identical to above post (Jolinar)

4. already there on the car; free
5. fees will be more complex than just pay per swap; maybe annual fee or even buying the car and renting the battery pack
6. will not be available soon; no more than 10 stations before 2016; will probably be set up at superchargers locations, that's where you need a quick "refuel" | June 18, 2013

1. Capacity added per pack swap (kWH): 85
2. Sub components per pack: 4
3 Weight of each component (lbs): 40
4. Swap hardware option cost: $2k
5. Exchange fee per swap: Free
6. Swap Locations: TM Service centers and TM Swap centers


spmcgrath | June 18, 2013

Is it possible that Tesla is going to "swap" a new generation battery into the model s that has the ability to charge faster than you can fill your gas tank?

Alaa | June 18, 2013

This is a very smart move. It will allow Tesla to change the batteries to newr types in a distributed way rather than going to a service garage. It can provide an upgrade from 60 to 85Kw too.
I think it is a very smart move.

Thumper | June 18, 2013

Nicu is right on each item except I think it will only be a proof of concept demo at this point. Maybe a suggestion that it could be an economically viable route for taxi fleets. I just don't see the economics for average user or Tesla motors.

mdemetri | June 18, 2013

While main pack swapping appears to be the demo on June 20; I am still hanging on by a thread for a secondary range pack swap. Why you ask? Elon tweeted this in response to a comment about the founder of Better Place: "@zatulsky Shai actually got the idea from a visit to Tesla. The idea is obvious (many things allow battery swap), but the technology is not." What technology is Elon referring to? The robot that does the swap or (my hope) the technology for a secondary range pack. Also, main pack swapping does not jive well with the "right under your nose" tweet, which implies it is something already in current cars.

Nicu.Mihalache | June 18, 2013

@ Thumper

It seems we agree, the economics would hardly work now. That's why I said it will not be implemented soon at large scale. Later I realized it could work for fleets like taxis or rental cars (a real market direction).

Tesla is already building a network of superchargers, another one (even if same locations) would at least double the investment needed, not to count all the batteries that will be needed for that and them losing value every day.

But showing that battery swap is possible on today's Models S will reassure buyers that they are "future proof". Tesla needs to remove all barriers to buy this car, real or perceived. On top of that, a cool tech will send waves in the press, so lots of free advertising.

Mark K | June 18, 2013

Possible does not equal practical. Of course swapping the main pack was technically baked into the design of the car, but for economic reasons I don't think it's desirable. A demo of swapping the main pack being technically possible will not wow prospective buyers. Options that aren't realistic for them will not affect their purchase decision.

Tesla will not capitalize a redundant fleet of the car's most expensive component, and buyers will not buy two of them either. No one will fund a main pack swap fleet (just ask better place).

Extending range and refill convenience (time and place utility) will be what moves the needle.

Elon is very purposeful at solving this piece of the puzzle.

I think we'll see an add-on range pack you can pick up at stocking retailers across the country.

Ergo my guess:

1. 60
2. 4
3. 40
4. $500
5. $49
6. Selected Retailers

Interesting puzzle. | June 18, 2013

Thumper +1 Love the taxi fleet route; sweet!

DouglasR | June 18, 2013

No, it will be a main pack swap. The real question is how this will be implemented:
1. Proof of concept only?
2. A service aimed at fleet owners?
3. An urban service for apartment and condo dwellers without charging capability?
4. A part of the battery replacement option?
5. A service for long-distance travelers, implemented at all the supercharger sites?

Each of these would have a different set of answers to the questions posted in this thread. So here are my guesses:

1. 60 or 85, depending on the car.
2. 1 piece.
3. ~1,200 lb.
4. TBA
5. TBA
6. TM service centers

mdemetri | June 18, 2013

Mark K - I am with you. Here are my numbers:

1. 80
2. 6
3. 25
4. $4000
5. $50
6. Gas Stations

dmsail | June 18, 2013

1) Entire battery pack; only the one that is the most common ie. 85 kWh
2) 1
3) ~ 1200 lbs.
4) Cost to upgrade to swapping capability: $2000
5) $19 per swap and/or subscription fee; similar to cell phone/tablet data usage with AT&T and Verizon, and iCloud data storage with Apple:

eg. $19 per single swap
$39 per day
$129 per week
$149 per month
$599 per year
You can subscribe at any time from your car, phone, internet, or participating retail swap centers.

6) Tesla will partner with existing nationwide/multi-national chains that will slowly lose business over the coming decades as electrification of personal transportation grows. Examples are:
auto parts dealers/service centers like Pep Boys, Auto Zone, O' Reilly, Midas
quick oil change chains like Jiffy Lube, Quick Lube, EZ Lube
gas stations and mini-marts

These existing chain stores tend to be located in population centers (except the gas stations are everywhere). This complements the supercharging network where the stations are along major highways but not in population centers.

Battery swapping will address the segment of the population that does not have access to home charging like those in urban areas and apartments.

Supercharging will continue to be free but battery swapping will not. Battery swapping cannot be free because the infrastructure is more expensive, there will be inventory and transportation expenses, and the partners need to generate revenue.

There will need to be some kind of reservation/inventory system. The onboard map in your car would show the locations along your intended route that have available batteries. You can reserve a battery but there will be a financial penalty if you reserve but do not actually swap a battery (like Redbox DVD's).

It will be interesting to see what Tesla comes up with and if they can make it work. I don't think it will be anything I will be using in the next few months. In the meantime, I will have to rely on supercharging for trips outside of our range.

That's what my crystal ball says!

Vicelike | June 18, 2013

I have no idea what they are going to do or how but I know what I would like....

How about a suit-case sized rechargeable battery that can be inserted in the trunk and is good for an extra 70 miles. Can be recharged at home or away and swappable for a fully charged one at service stations, stores and super charge locations.

rd2 | June 18, 2013

I am confused by these predictions of paying annual, monthly (or even weekly) charges for a pack swap. I can understand a one-time fee like the SC option. But paying that much every month or year is not that much better than paying for gas, cost-wise. It starts to eat away substantially at your net cost-to-own benefit over ICE cars.

Aside from being green, the other major benefit to long-distance travel with the S (aside from how well it drives) is that you don't pay anything for it. Elon has said numerous times: 'free, forever, on sunlight' . Well, it would kind of kill that proclamation if you now had to pony up $20 or $100 or whatever, every time you swapped a battery at a SC station.

That being said Here's my prediction:

1. Entire battery pack, matching your existing one
2. 1
3. 1250lbs
4. free
5. $2000 one-time fee for unlimited usage, or possible, free.
6. SC stations

Tom A | June 18, 2013

EM had said that the supercharging stations would have energy storage in combination with the solar panels. Is this it? Packs charged for swapping are tied to the grid in the interim? It sounds brilliant to me - maximizing the use of every component available - the packs are sitting there waiting for people to swap, why not use them?

Anyway, here's my guess on the original post. I am convinced, per past swapping statements SEC filings, it's clear to me that the swapping will be for the pack itself.

Without some slick software flexibility (detecting which size pack you have and adjusting all systems operations appropriately), I will further assume that if you have a 60, you cannot swap for an 85 (that would be cool, though, and would probably require a complete overhaul of the pricing structure of a new purchase and the eventual swap upgrade).

I'm not sure I understand #4. If you mean an MS retrofit - that's free, because no retrofit is necessary. The car was designed from the beginning for battery swapping (from Elon Musk back in '10 or '09).

If #4 means the cost of installation of a swapping station, then that's important and certainly not free.

Based on the above assumptions, here's my guess:

1) 60 or 85, depending on your current configuration;
2) 1;
3) whatever the 60 and 85 packs weigh;

4a) upgrade/option = free (Model S designed for swapping, no hardware retrofit or software upgrade);

4b) additional $100k for every supercharger station with a swapping bay;

5) $40 per swap (less than a full tank of regular 87 octane in the US), or $440/yr (assuming 1 swap/mo x 12 minus 1 month free); and

6) at over 50% (but not all) of the planned supercharging stations, and probably at select Tesla service centers and Tesla stores.

Tom A | June 18, 2013

I tend to think that rd2 may be right about charging for does counter EM's, if the packs are being used with the solar panels, then the service would (eventually) pay for itself in terms of selling energy back to the grid from the panels.

I'll stand by my guess since I already posted it, but rd2 has a point. The more I think about it, it is perfectly reasonable that individual swaps are probably going to be free (no "pay at the pump"), and there would probably be a one-time $2k activation fee (like the $2k supercharging activation for the MS60).

DouglasR | June 18, 2013

@Tom A and @rd2

A $2,000 activation fee would completely undercut the $12,000 battery replacement option. You could wait until year eight, do a single swap for $2,000, and beat the replacement option price by $10,000. You are saying that, in addition to the swap at year eight, you get free swapping whenever you want it for only $2,000? Free electricity for life? Not gonna happen at that price. Maybe $15,000?

Tom A | June 18, 2013


Good point. It would depend on whether there would be any revisions of the current purchasing structure, battery warranty and replacement option. If there are no changes, then I'd say either a one-time $12k to $15k activation fee might be more reasonable, or a subscription fee as myself and others have proposed.

The battery warranty and the replacement option do not make any sense when combined with swapping...would you have to swap it back for your own? Will your pack (that came with your MS) be at the first swapping station you visited, waiting for you when you return?

This will make for an interesting evening, to say the least!

rd2 | June 18, 2013


I see your point - how valuable is 'free electricity for life'? Well, I think that it falls in line with the existing SC concept, which is free (except for the $2k one-time fee). And aside from Gilroy and perhaps 1 other location, the SC option is not being abused by daily commuters as far as I know. My understanding is that SC locations are designed to be along intercity freeways. So if battery swap is simply augmenting that capability, which should it not be free as well? 99% of customers will still be paying for daily charges in their garages.

You also have a point that the upgrade to a new battery is $12,000. But I highly doubt that Tesla will be giving customers 'new' batteries at these swap stations. More likely, they'll be heavily used batteries, exchanged numerous times. I think you'll agree that this is not the same value as a brand new battery. Some people will want a brand new battery and pay the $12k at 8 years. But probably more people will be happy to just get used ones for that bargain price.

Ultimately, I have no idea if it's smarter for Tesla to try to sell brand new packs (which are expensive to make) to customers directly, or to keep a supply of used ones (basically little to no additional cost) for swapping. If the batteries are indeed part of the SC energy storage structure, as one poster suggested above, then it might make sense since you already have the units deployed.

I can't wait to see what they reveal on Thursday!

martijn | June 18, 2013

Nr. 3 is set:
@elonmusk: Battery pack swap works with all Tesla Model S cars, past and present. It was always there.

martijn | June 18, 2013

Edit: nr. 4

Brian H | June 18, 2013

New safety testing required for any add-on. Fatal Flaw.

TI Sailor | June 18, 2013

I've thought about Elon's trilogy and how each relates to average ICE car buyers, not the (usual) analytical-types frequently this forum. The ones who just want to get from A to B.

1. Fear of buying a car where the company goes bankrupt, ala FIsker. - Addressed - Sales exceed targets. Debt paid off. Lots of capital.

2. Fear of unknown resale value - Addressed - Lease/Buyback option.

3. Fear of costly and unexpected battery replacement - Addressed - Unconditional battery warranty.

4. Fear of not being able to travel long distances - Addressed - SC network

5. By far the biggest fear - Being stuck on the highway with a dead battery because of unforeseen circumstances, e.g., traffic jams, weather, etc - To Be Addressed - by Mobile Battery Swaps by ranger teams. Driver calls TM to report anticipated problem. TM calls ranger with details, including battery size. Swap takes place on flatbed. Old battery recharged at service center where it is picked up on return trip. Think AAA with a twist.

Far fetched? Sure, but no more so than some of the other theories -and- it coincides with Elon's tweet: It's not about IF, it's about HOW..and maybe WHERE.

chicagoniner | June 18, 2013

As far as I know they never actually sold the battery replacement option despite announcing it. I got my car in May and have not had an option to pre-purchase a replacement pack. I suspect this announcement will be the reason they haven't offered the replacement yet.

EcLectric | June 18, 2013

This forum needs one more wacky idea. Ever see how machine-gun ammunition is stored/used? There's a flexible membrane with holes in it that turns a bunch of independent, random cartridges into a single strand of ammo. Replace the bullets with batteries, and voila! Instant recharging. Open up two little ports on the 'battery' hook up a new membrane to one port... grab the other membrane - and pull! Hey, Elon said the 'demo' could go wrong. There could be a jam!

Mark K | June 18, 2013

Rangers - Especially if they are 40 lb modules, rangers can easily stock several in their service vehicles and get you running again in minutes.

Safety - the frunk location is massively surrounded by safety structures, and the Al Air chemistry has inherent safety benefits without the need for cooling. It can be packaged to dump its electrolyte downward when breached, rendering the battery an inert aluminum crumple structure, which actually enhances safety.

TM would also have time to run crash tests before general availability (probably next year).

Bryan M. | June 18, 2013

40 lbs seems kind of light for the amount of range the swappable battery pack is suppose to provide

Mark K | June 18, 2013

40 lbs per 15 kWh module, makes 60kWh boost with 4 packs installed.

If you have a full 85 + a 60 range pack boost, you get 145 kWH starting out. At 300wH per mile, that's almost 500 miles. If the modules are 20kWh each, that's easily 500.

Multiple smaller units are more manageable to load by a single person, rather than one big pack.

Credit to mdemetri for recognizing the value of subdivision.

kwshepherd | June 18, 2013

People keep saying that an add on pack in the frunk won't work because it'll have to be retested for crash saftey, but Elon says the swap technology was built into the car from the beginning. If that's the case then I'd think they would have already had the chance to crash test it with the battery pack in the frunk if that's really the plan.

derek | June 18, 2013

My guess is that it will not be a swap of our existing battery, but the addition of another for road tripping. Thus, if you picked one up before you left, you would get that extra range from the start.

My guess is it will be a frunker.

I think that the only way this goes big is with some kind of partner. A Walmart, a Costco, a Radio Shack, or a gas station brand. I don't care who, just some company with well distributed national locations, preferably near highways. BTW, Radio Shack I include because they need to make money off of new products, can't survive selling $2 switches once a year.

I also expect Musk to explain some kind of cool pricing and financing options. Like a users' choice between subscriptions or per use fees.

ian | June 18, 2013

It will be the main pack not a "frunk" pack. Why?

Because that's where the front motor goes in the AWD MX and MS. ;-)

David59 | June 18, 2013

I'm not sure what the big deal is, really. When I took the factory tour back in January on the day I picked up my Model S I distinctly recall a conversation with the tour guide him saying that the battery could be uninstalled and reinstalled in less than five minutes.

I'm glad to see a demonstration of this remarkable feat but I don't think it will be any kind of game changer for TM. I agree that this type of setup might be good for fleets but on an individual basis I would rather just hold on to my original battery until I can replace it with a newer and more efficient version of the battery.

I'm holding out hope for the 500 mile battery for under $10,000 within the lifetime of my Model S. Wouldn't that be grand?

Sudre_ | June 18, 2013

hmmmm. I am not real impressed with the swap idea. I'll hold my judgement until after the demo to see the technical details. No one will spend money on it if it brings the fuel cost up to that of an ICE so it will have to be cheap..... well let's make that no average driver. The early adopters might but most of them charge at home and I'd rather wait 20 minutes for the free juice.

If the packs are also being used to power the grid at peak times then you won't be swapping for a full pack now will you?

Doesn't solve the problem of driving off with a bad pack. I know my pack works. There have already been a few people that got full battery replacements from the factory so testing simply doesn't catch all the pack problems. With superchargers in the middle of no where, and I imagine the swap stations with them, it would suck to get 60-100 miles to the real middle of no where and have the battery fail.

If TM is not rolling this out ASAP it may be obsolete with new battery tech coming out in 3 years so this might just be a crowd pleaser.

JPRebel16 | June 18, 2013

My comments are for the location of the swaps and pricing. Why take so much investment in the supercharging network if tesla will just try a different form of charging. So, my guess will be that there will be additions to the original and future supercharging networks. So, one location can supply a swap if it was purchased, but if the driver didn't, then they would use the supercharger.
So, my guess on the prices would be 2K to install, and free to use from then on because Tesla wants to make traveling road trips with electric cars more convenient and realistic.
Bottom line, If they make it cheaper and faster, then they'll get more purchases by people who travel long distances(since electric cars are considered city vehicles).

cloroxbb | June 18, 2013

At least this gives hope that when battery improvements come out, owners may have a good chance of buying a better battery since its easily swapped out. Further future proofing the Model S in the process.

Bryan M. | June 18, 2013

Mark K has finally won me over with his thought out theory. Will know in a few days now

mdemetri | June 18, 2013

Ok, I am beside myself trying to piece this together. On the one hand, the evidence that the demo on June 20 will be main pack swapping is very strong and hard to deny, particulalry given the interview Elon gave to Reuters today. However, I still do not see the demand or buisness model for main pack swapping. Then there is the difficulty of main pack swapping detailed by Pungoteague_Dave and Lush1 in another thread!! So how can it be main pack swapping????!!!!

While I am still convinced that the range pack for the frunk idea is a far superior approach then main pack swapping, the only thing that could work for main pack swapping is along the lines of what EcLectric proposed above: you exchange the batteries but not the casing that holds the batteries. In this scenario, all the bolts, cooling hoses etc would remain untouched and the structural integrity of the car would not be impacted. You simply open a port in the casing to pull out the existing battery array (with the batteries individually lined up single file in a plastic mesh, full credit to EcLectric fot this idea). If you attach the new linear battery array/mesh to the other end (at another port), they would be pulled into the battery casing when the old ones are pulled out. This literally could take seconds to change out the batteries. Really, it is kind of brilliant. Something like this (ie battery casing left untouched) is the only way I can see main back swapping happening.


Mark K | June 19, 2013

Don't think "depackaging" the battery is likely, needs to stay sealed for reliability and safety.

Doug and mdemetri - couldn't see the Reuters video, at what point in the video and with what comment did Elon make a definitive statement that the main pack is swapped rather than "charged"? Just want to parse his words more thoroughly to understand. "Charged" would give him wiggle room to refill it with a separate range pack. Elon has also shown a talent for being coy when necessary.

The notion of inventorying a fleet of $30,000 packs still does not seem logical to me. Al-air pack is shelf-stable, can be shipped dry and is very light weight. It doesn't need a cooling system or the same extent of high voltage interlock loops. It fans out to as many existing retailer locations as TM wants, very quickly.

TFMethane | June 19, 2013

In the reuters video, Elon pointed to the reporter's laptop, and said something like "you can swap your battery out in, what, less than 30 seconds?" "Now imagine if you had a machine doing it for you."

We'll see what this means thursday evening. But it seems to me that he is talking about just changing out the whole battery really quickly. You don't have to come up with a whole design to make it happen... They designed the Model S from the ground up to have this capability. They've already though about how to get it out around all the cooling hoses. It doesn't matter if anyone here can imagine how it's done... They can do it.

Also in the video, Musk said that the battery swap stations would be released in limited distribution, and would be rolled out more widely if the demand is there. He wouldn't discuss the "economics of it" because he wanted to leave something for thursday. He did say that he envisions swap stations at all the supercharger stations, if the demand is there. I imagine they could also place them at contract stations and at service centers.

Elon said that a notional rollout would cost $50-$100 million. He said that "isn't pocket change" but said Tesla could afford that with the current business model.

uselesslogin | June 19, 2013

I'm just posting to say I am the target market for battery swapping and this also makes me very interested in a used Model S since battery degradation won't be an issue for me anymore. That means your resale value may have gone up depending on how Tesla will price this.

Also, as far as the economics go they aren't complicated. The device that swaps the battery can fit at existing supercharger stations. Supercharging technology dramatically reduces the amount of battery stock they need to keep so 4 batteries of each size would probably suffice. That costs like $200k at $400/kwhr but probably costs Tesla even less. We can assume the swap device is clever and inexpensive so lets just assume $100k. So it is basically similar to what the supercharger originally cost. But wait, there's more, the batteries waiting to be swapped will be peakers for the power companies. Especially the ones that aren't first in line. This will offset the operational cost.

It doesn't sound that bad to me. And since he is talking $50-100 million for a nationwide rollout and you think battery swapping is pointless then just think of it as a marketing budget as someone else suggested.

Jolinar | June 19, 2013

I already said my predictions at the beginning of this thread but I'd like to clarify that this swap stations will be IN THE CITIES and won't be free, unlike SC which are between cities and free. Why would anybody charge for 30-40 minutes instead of swaping battery in 2 minutes?
However in the city it has own logic, not every body has own garage or charging spot at work so swap the battery once a while in the city makes much more sense.

dtesla | June 19, 2013

I would like to see < 85 KWh batteries be swapped for 85 KWh for longer trips (with a fee for each day used). Swap back to original capacity when your trip is over.

hsadler | June 19, 2013

You forgot the Keurig.

Mark K | June 19, 2013

TFmethane - that particular quote doesn't definitively point to main pack swapping, so it's still indeterminate. Doug, medemetri, anything else you heard in the video that's more concrete?

Remember that adding charge is more powerful than replacing charge because range gets bigger, which is one of the two consumer resistance points. The other is ubiquity - which happens far faster if you can simply stock existing retail service sites rather building them out.

It is not enough to have it at 100 sites nationwide, you need far more sites to really compete with gas stations.

To get to true time and place utility at parity with gas, you need something that can scale quickly. Hard to get there by stocking $30K SKU's nationwide.

The Al Air pack should be at least an order of magnitude less expensive, maybe sub-1k cost if TM makes it themselves. That's conceivable though nontrivial. My guess is they see this as an enabler rather than a profit center.

The utilization factor only needs to be a tiny percent to solve that small minority of cases where you need it. That would erase the fear that you couldn't do what your gas car does. Most people would far prefer to charge at home on a routine basis.

The lower cost range extender pack that is widely available would be the far bigger prize if they can pull it off.

Tomorrow we get to see their latest feat!

jinglehyme | June 19, 2013

Yes, the temporary swap with an extended range pak will be the announcement. Tesla isn't cobbled together like a Fisker or Volt.

This makes the most sense - and fits best with the current tech and biz trajectories.

Think of it as the "road trip" prep-pack. Like renting a tent. Return it when you are done.

jinglehyme | June 19, 2013

But, again, that rectangular space in the frunk sure looks like it wants to be stuffed with sumptin.