Charge faster than you could fill a gas tank?

Charge faster than you could fill a gas tank?

Latest Tweet by Elon Musk. What does he mean?

"There is a way for the Tesla Model S to be recharged throughout the country faster than you could fill a gas tank."

daoops | May 9, 2013

Could car swapping be an option? How many longtrips does a car owner do per year? Could it be worth having a loaner car at the superchargers that takes you an extra 300 miles? When you return you return the loaner and pick your car up. Sounds a little expensive, but maybe worth to get rid ofthe 'what if I wantto go farther than 300mi' argument. And from the view that on average you are on the road on a long trip..what..10 days a year? 10 days of 365, 3,6%. See where im going?

DavidE35 | May 9, 2013

Why not charge while you drive? Roads, or portions of roads, could have inductive chargers built into them (fed by solar panels lining, or built into, roads, of course). You'd just need to have the battery close enough to the road to create an efficient charge.

kashiraja | May 9, 2013

Maybe Elon is fixing the traffic congestion in LA by building double-decker freeways and putting in wireless charging under the pavement at the same time? You charge as you drive...

OK, maybe not feasible yet....but Elon might be there when it is viable.

daoops | May 9, 2013

Ah, as I read the second page of the thread I see Im not first at this idea. Sorry olanmills for ripping idea :)

kashiraja | May 9, 2013

DavidE35 - How funny, I was on p.1 still when I posted, then I saw your post above mine after I had posted :).

mdemetri | May 9, 2013

zero mpg

The Model S has two charge ports? News to me. Please clarify.

Robert22 | May 9, 2013

Elon hinted at a capacitance breakthrough in an interview several months ago and never followed up on it. I'll cast my vote in this direction.

Mark K | May 10, 2013

Don't think this isn't about fringe tech for the future. It's about now.

SuperChargers are about to get more Super.

Mark K | May 10, 2013

Don't think this is about fringe tech for the future. It's about now.

SuperChargers are about to get more Super.

stimeygee | May 10, 2013

Wait. Is it possible that the Model S had two charge ports, the second of which we are currently unaware? Could that halve recharge time? It would account for the earlier hint of "it's right under your nose." Seems like there's probably some reason why this wouldn't work, but if that was it it'd be hilarious. And awesome.

ArieK | May 10, 2013

I would say battery swapping is dead before it really got started. Hope Musk isn't pouring hundreds of millions of dollars into this just to prove he can make it work while Better Place is going down the drain.

jbunn | May 10, 2013

Zero MPG,

To the best of anyone's knowledge the Tesla S has one charging port, not two. Secondly, the base config is one onboard charger not two. Third, if you have a second charger, it can already be accessed via the driver-side port. Finally, Supercharging is a DC to DC process, and the onboard AC to DC chargers are not used at all. That's why you have single charger cars with supercharging, and dual charger cars without supercharging configurations possible.

As a clue to what Elon is talking about, look at the supercharging cables and the car electrical connectors. Those will give you an idea of how much power you can put into the car per unit of time. You can only pump in current that the connectors can support.

Nantang | May 10, 2013

I can't help but wonder if a third party hack could convert a 40kWh to a 60, or enable other hidden features? I'm sure it would void the warranty. But, if people could load Linux onto a jailbroken iPod, it's not a big leap to picture people doing it in a few years to their cars. I'm sure this could play havoc with safety and carry liability implications to those doing it. I'm picturing 20 or 30 years from now, a cyberpunk realm in which older electric cars are getting hack upgrades to try to keep up with the latest Tesla Model E's 1000 mile range, autopilot features, and the like.

Nantang | May 10, 2013

You could say that the idea of battery swapping has gone to a Better Place?

Hi_Tech | May 10, 2013


So, conceptually what you are saying is: If I had solar panels and a large battery pack (say 85kWh equivalent) at home, with an appropriately sized cable to handle the transfer of power from the home based battery pack to the car, then I could do a full DC to DC charge of my 85kWh Model S in 1 hour (or faster if the cable can handle). This would also eliminate the need for inverters (DC to AC, then back to DC when pushing to the car).

Hmmmmm... There will be a big market for good cheaper batteries for home usage when these techs come down in price!!! :)

ModelNick | May 10, 2013

Perhaps Tesla Motors will finally release the Mr. Fusion we've all heard about?

ModelNick | May 10, 2013

Perhaps Tesla Motors will finally release the Mr. Fusion we've all heard about?

Whity Whiteman | May 10, 2013

Minimum will be the SC120KW. But I hope, it is much more. It's last last of the 5, so it should be the biggest.

Sudre_ | May 10, 2013

It would be funny if it turns out there is an additional supercharger port hidden in the right reflector and you can plug in on both sides... but I doubt that is the answer to the mystery.

I also don't understand the 3 minute fill up. I have never driven 250 miles pulled into a gas station, pumped gas and shot off on the road again for another 250 miles with no other stops in between. Even when my dad and I drove straight thru from Florida to St. Louis it took 15 minutes for refreshments and bathrooms breaks. You people are going to have some LARGE kidney stones at some point.

cloroxbb | May 10, 2013

There is absolutely no way that Tesla could swap a battery pack in less time than it takes to pump a tank of gas. I really don't think that is it, as it would be faster to just swap fully charged cars than batteries...

Brian H | May 10, 2013

Elon is deliberately referring only to filling time, not "extras".

Brian H | May 10, 2013

"There is a way for the Tesla Model S to be recharged throughout the country faster than you could fill a gas tank." "Worldwide" EM tweets

The Froq | May 11, 2013

There will be trucks and the gen 3 car in the future. What if you can buy these cars without any battery? The price will be much lower....At this moment Musk is doing a lot to get the Model S affortable for more people.

Swapping makes sence to me. All the current Model S owners can sell the battery back to Tesla.

jonesxander | May 11, 2013

LOL I'm not a troll, I love Tesla. Did the math, and after today I'm up 70% on my entire (measly) portfolio.

I'm pretty excited about the next announcement, obviously adding top talent from Aston was one of the "planned announcements".

That being said, please forgive me but, "Part 5 of the TRILOGY"?

Sorry Mr. Musk, but had to say it. GO TESLA!

Hogfighter | May 11, 2013

@jonesxander, he said 'Part 5 of the Trilogy' in jest. It's a joke.

J.T. | May 11, 2013

It had to be a joke because if it wasn't Brian H would have been all over it.

Joel N. Weber II | May 11, 2013

The May 10 2013 10-Q at talks about

``our capability to rapidly swap out the Model S battery pack and the development of specialized public facilities to perform such swapping, which do not currently exist but which we plan to introduce in the near future;''

jk2014 | May 11, 2013

+1 Robert22

Elon stated that the battery and charger are in constant communication with each other to achieve the highest amount of energy transfer as possible without damaging the battery. I think he said it's like a well choreographed dance that only gets better with each software development. It also goes along with Elon's hint of saying he loved upgrades. This would be another fantastic example to current owners and future buyers this car improves the longer you own it.

Neech | May 11, 2013

With the brilliant, forward-thinking engineers Tesla has in their midst, it seems to me they would be working on all new technologies for the batteries. For batteries to be swapped wouldn't they need garages with lifts and storage for battery packs? Not your local auto shop. Maybe since they are already doing business with Toyota and Mercedes Benz, they could be designated as battery swapping stations (they are both around the world)

Brian H | May 11, 2013

Re Trilogy, check out Douglas Adams. Your education is severely lacking.


rmitchum | May 11, 2013

Somebody get that man a towel!

orthophonist | May 12, 2013

Regenerative braking would charge the super cap instead of the Li-ion, extending the mileage. The superchap would, of course, be quickly charged by a supercharger. It would provide more oomph for quick starts and passing, much like the kick of a JATO. With a super cap and awd, 0-60 mph in the 2+ second range is not out of the question. Wow and double wow!

TikiMan | May 12, 2013

This might be WAY off the mark, however, as I recall in the new service deal, swapping MS's might be the way this can be done.

If you think about it, let's say you decide to take a long trip, and rather than take your own car, you go to your local Tesla service center, swipe a fob, and hop into a freshly charged loaner MS. As your battery starts to run low, you pull into the next service center on the way to your destination, and swap out for another, and so on.

I don't think any of us want to just swap our $70k-$100k rides back and fourth like some futuristic utopian society, just yet. However, IF Tesla were to offer this unique option as part of its deal when you buy one of their cars, it could change the way we think of 'road-trips' forever! Plus, it would remove the stigma of damaging our nice cars on unknown destinations, and rugged roads (BTW... I deliberately no longer like taking road-trips in my nice ride for this very reason alone... ever see what a fast blowing tumble-weed can do to your car?)

Again, this is just speculation.

soren | May 26, 2013

Better Place, Denmark - just went bankrupt today.
Hope Tesla is gonna stick to charging the batteries, not swapping...

portia | May 26, 2013

+1 soren,
I don't think battery swapping is the solution either.

LMB | May 26, 2013

LMB's spouse and lifetime electrical engineer here with a couple of comments on supercharging and supercapacitors.

First, present supercapacitors do not have the energy storage capacity by weight or cost to handle all or half of an 85 kW-hr Tesla battery's charge. If they did, there would be no need for the battery as the supercap provides more charge/discharge cycles, higher charge and discharge rates, and comparable loss of charge over time. By the way, the energy in any capacitor is

1/2 times voltage-squared times capacitance in Farads

That's in joules. Divide by 3,600,000 to get kilowatt hours. Typical supercap voltages are 2.5 to 5 volts.

Second, the model S is an incredible example of using great engineering to minimize the drawbacks of lithium-ion technology. There's no magic here, just uniquely good management of the battery's charge, discharge, and temperature. As such, high school physics can still be used to calculate charge currents.

To charge at C/1 a.k.a. 1C i.e 85 kW-hr per hour, somewhat more than 85 kW must must applied, consistent with the present 90 kilowatt superchargers. These are DC to DC systems running at 480 volts or so. 90 kilowatts divided by 480 is almost 200 amps. This is the same current as the power entrance to a large house. Look at the entrance cables to see how big the wires must be. To charge at ten times this rate (at the same voltage) would require cables and wires rated for about 2,000 amps. The Model S connectors are clearly not rated for this, nor is the internal wiring heavy enough.

Third, I *love* LMB's Model S. Coolest car I have ever driven and I used to drive a Lotus Elan in the 60s.

amirm | May 26, 2013

I agree that faster charging will not do the trick. Therefore either an additional replaceable "battery" or swapping the battery seem the likely candidates. I would not conclude that swapping is not a workable method because of Better Place's failure. Their issues were execution related: very vanilla car choice, wrong locations, and too pricey for the battery rental per Km. We will find out soon...

Robert22 | May 26, 2013

Is there any chance they could have a production-ready polymer-graphene nanocomposite cathode to use in a Li-ion battery?

james babb | May 26, 2013

More likely is to swap a metal-air range extending secondary battery that fits in the frunk. Tesla has a bunch of patents for this technology. Imagine always having an "extra tank" of energy that you only use when the main battery is depleted. Absolute end of range anxiety. Then, when this secondary battery is low, you swap it out in just a few minutes.

Mark K | May 26, 2013

LMB - you don't need 10C to make a difference. 3C is enough to cut the SC time to 10-15 minutes.

There is already wiring in the Model S that handles high current. The battery delivers between 3 and 4 C to the motor when it makes 400 horsepower. (That 600-800 amps).

But to get to "faster than gas", the SC alone won't do it. You need some kind of swap of something precharged.

Swapping is already confirmed by TM. We just don't know the architecture.

I like the extra range frunk pack idea better.

Doesn't mess with my main pack, and doubles my range. 150 pounds of Al-Air battery sounds easier to load than 1500 pounds of main pack.

And who wants to connect and disconnect the liquid cooling system? That seems like more work and risk of failure.

Seems like the frunk pack solves more problems and increases utility better.

In reality, because the SC is getting better, your need for the swap and extra range will be rare. But it does quell skeptics who think an EV can't be your all-purpose workhorse.

Hope we find the answer to the mystery soon.

PorfirioR | May 26, 2013

I think @james babb's comments above finally convinced me.

Although I think battery swapping is a bad idea, and many here seem to agree with me, I could not let go of the fact that Tesla itself had mention it in some of their SEC filings (

Then, there were the cryptic messages regarding "right under your nose" and the ability to refuel as fast or faster than an ICE vehicle.

So james has nailed it, in my opinion.

Therefore, I now think that we might indeed see battery swapping, but only for a secondary range-extending metal-air battery. I believe that, if we could see a battery of at least 60kWh in a 25Kg or so swappable pack that can be rented for cheaper than the equivalent range in gasoline, that would make ICE vehicles pretty close to obsolete overnight.

Mark K | May 26, 2013

PorforioR -

That's the beauty of it - it's a sudden turning of the tables.

You go from:

EVs have shorter range and take longer to fill than average gas cars,


EV's go farther and fill quicker than the very best gas vehicles.

It upends everything. Once this is in place, the Model S will roundly beat all gas cars on every single performance metric.

That's a big deal.

Brian H | May 26, 2013

Ask Panasonic? Anyway, something not magical but very interesting must be in the works.

Michu | May 26, 2013

With aluminum air batteries reaching around 1.5kWh/kg you could easily put an additional 100kWh (adding 300 more miles) yourself into the frunk of your Model S by just lifting 4 batteries weighing 15 kg each.
There is no need for having a complicating robot exchange station!

rchiang | May 26, 2013

My guess would be graphene battery! This will be the battery of the future.

This will charge a car in couple seconds probably faster then gas can pour into the gas tank.

therealmach3 | May 26, 2013

@rchiang fascinating! I will definitely have to research that tech further.

Brian H | May 26, 2013

And how would you hook them up? Good luck with that, but I doubt it.

At how many MW? A cable as thick as your leg would be needed, and/or voltage and amperage that would fry you in a millisecond if it shorted.

Bad idea.

angstrom01 | May 27, 2013

@Brian H
I did a little research awhile back because I had the same impression. Assuming you had two large graphene supercapacitors, how would you transfer energy efficently between then? Graphene has some nice properties where electricity is concerned. It is more conductive than any metal and can carry 1-2 orders of magnitude the current that copper can.

In much the same way fiber optics replaced copper for high throughput communications, graphene will replace copper for electrical power transmission. We won't get there over night though.

Mark K | May 27, 2013

In theory, graphene will be a transformative material for electricity storage, transmission and a lot of other needs. But deploying it will take some time because there are a lot of practical issues to address.

Some years from now, we will see exciting advances because of it. But it is a ways off.

What is before us in the near term is Al-Air batteries that are in use today, and are an order of magnitude higher energy density than the rechargeable LiIon pack.

I'm hoping we see this as a quick swap range extender pack for the Model S soon.

Brian H | May 27, 2013

Ok, so the weight of the cable may decrease somewhat. But the voltage and amperage won't. Not "Self-serve" stuff. Do you have ANY idea what a megawatt can do? Much less 10-100 MW, which is what you are talking about when you say "charge in seconds"? Reality bites.