It seems apparent to me that Tesla owners are not eagerly embracing the battery swap concept. It is more like people were impressed by the spectacle and the technical aspects, but were still left scratching their heads because there doesn't seem to be a convincing reason they'd want use the battery swap. At the same time - and knowing Musk as we do - many of us might still be thinking he has not shown us the whole picture.
And that is the point of this post. The exploration of one possibility I am considering. The whole picture. What's the master plan?
The possibility I'm considering is that Musk is laying the groundwork to license/franchise the supercharger and battery swapping technology down the road - possibly in preparation for GenIII. Perhaps Musk has a plan where battery swap will be compelling for GenIII buyers and therefore the battery-swapping concept would be more attractive to entrepreneurs wishing to get in on the action.
In this scenario, I would think that Musk would finish out the nationwide supercharger network with about 200-300 stations along the main routes as planned.
Then he would stop there and build no more.
This skeletal framework would act sort of like a trunk line - allowing Elon to 'prime the pump' and get some initial circulation along the main routes.
It would then be up to entrepreneurs to fill in the spaces between the gaps provided they PERCEIVED THE OPPORTUNITY. The initial build is all about MAKING IT APPARENT to those looking that THERE IS an opportunity. They'd of course have to buy the rights to use the technology from Tesla if they wanted to fill in some of those gaps and build a station or two.
So, Thursday night's demonstration might have REALLY been about planting a seed in the minds of these prospective entrepreneurs. In about 3 or 4 years, the supercharger network will already cover the U.S., the cheaper GenIII vehicles will be just around the corner, and some of these entrepreneurs will begin connecting the dots. Many of them might think something like this:
"Just because the Tesla supercharger network covers the U.S. doesn't mean it is adequate."
Adding to this picture, G.M., Ford, and many other manufacturers may already be licensing Tesla drive-trains and technology and beginning to use it in some of their mainstream offerings.
With potentially millions of vehicles and only a few hundred supercharger stations in the U.S., somebody is going to eventually put their finger to a specific point on a map and say:
"You know, if I put a supercharging station here...."
Musk thinks big. I would not be surprised if he actually means to force most existing enterprises - Quik Trip, Racetrac, Texaco and BP franchises, etc. etc. - into buying licenses from Tesla so they can put superchargers and even battery swap at their existing stations.
Yes, I think people would pay for supercharging if that station were a couple miles from their apartment as opposed to the free supercharger 25 miles away in the next county.
No, Tesla building the initial nationwide network does not conflict with the goal of licensing the same. The Tesla-owned stations will still be a minimum of 80 miles apart. This minimal network could be considered like the trunk of a tree from which limbs, branches and leaves can eventually grow. These initial company stations will serve to prove the technology and to prove that the blood is flowing to all areas of the body.
Musk MAY be anticipating that someone will see a need for capillaries.
That's my theory as best as I can explain it. I still cannot account for how batteries will be traded around and how that might be translated into a profit for a station owner while remaining compelling for a GenIII, Model S, or X participant. I think there is a workable case, but I'll just open it up for everyone thoughts now. Thanks.