No Person Will Pay For Battery Swap Convenience --- Please Read

No Person Will Pay For Battery Swap Convenience --- Please Read

To the people who believe battery swap -- as Elon has demonstrated it -- is a fools game...

Frederick W. Smith
"Father of Overnight Delivery Business"

"...While attending Yale University, Fred Smith wrote a paper on the need for reliable overnight delivery in a computerized information age. His professor found the premise improbable, and to the best of Smith's recollection, he only received a grade of C for this effort, but the idea remained with him..."

People will pay for convenience.

I don't argue that many people will continue to use the Supercharger.

However, over time, most people will:

1) Charge from home, or
2) Batter swap at "Tesla Stations"

You thought people wouldn't pay for overnight convenience in shipping?

There's now a business model for SAME DAY SHIPPING.

HenryT2 | June 21, 2013

I agree with you. Once there are 100,000+ Teslas on the road, you're going to find the 30 min. charge the exception rather than the rule at supercharging stations. At popular stations you might have to wait behind 3 or 4 people to get at a charger.

So, then the question becomes, stand by/in your car for 2 hours waiting your turn to get electric for free (while presumably far from home and on your way somewhere) or get the quick and easy battery.

People have mentioned the battery charge being a "marketing gimmick". Depending on how widely the superchargers are implemented, the free charging (as most free things) may well end up being the gimmick. | June 21, 2013

"... the free charging (as most free things) may well end up being the gimmick..."


BTW --- Somebody (who says this is a marketing gimmick) please feel free to chime in a give an example in the past where Elon Musk has created something "as a gimmick."

Good luck.

TFMethane | June 21, 2013

Ehhh, you might say that his mars colony is a bit of a gimmick. Certainly pie in the sky.

If you read the story of how he started spaceX, he talks about how his main goal was originally to buy up old soviet rockets to basically send a single payload to Mars: a plant. He wanted to plant some plant in martian soil under a dome or something, and then snap a picture of it for distribution around the world. He thought it would inspire people for interplanetary exploration.

That's almost the definition of a gimmick. In the end, he found out how expensive even decommissioned russian ICBM's are, so he started building his own rockets. So it started with a gimmick and turned into something solid.

HenryT2 | June 21, 2013

I don't actually believe that the super-charging OR the battery swaps are or will be marketing gimmicks, as such. I just think that people are underestimating the value of battery swap BECAUSE of the free and ready availability of the charging. Once charging becomes heavily utilized, the battery swap will become a very viable alternative.

Also, this doesn't include the possibility of using the battery swap as a temporary boost to your range/power. For 60 owners, that may be immediate if the swaps are for 85s. If 120+ becomes available, imagine how many people would be ECSTATIC to pay for the temporary use of that?

gasnomo | June 21, 2013

All depends on cost. Swapping will definitely be part of our lexicon in the future, how quickly and widely its adopted depends on cost. Let's see how much they plan on charging for the convenience.

mdemetri | June 21, 2013

Have you ever seen long lines for gas at Costco? Where I live they are always huge and just to save a few cents per gallon!!!!! We are talking about free vs $120-$160 (two swaps for there and back); a much much greater savings than a few cents per gallon. The vast majority of drivers will take free any day of the week. Will some pay, yes, but it will be a small group. No where near large enough to justify the cost of 500K when superchargers are only 150K. Indeed, the much beter way to reduce lines at SC's is to build out quickly, with multiple chargers per site along with increased speed of charging.

Thus, why did Tesla do this? IMO, it is a pure marketing gimmick to entice ICE drivers to make the switch. In this vein, it is a great move and will undoubtedly enhance sales as it will take away another excuse for not buying a Tesla. But once newbie's get the car, very few will use swapping. They will realize home charging + free supercharging for travel is all that is needed.

And yes, Elon has a history of marketing gimmicks. Look no further than the financing role out where Tesla claimed that times savings will reduce maonthly payments.

cgiGuy | June 21, 2013

If there's a line at the supercharger that will keep me there 2 hours waiting to charge and I'm on an agenda... I'll pay.

For how little I actually will do cross-country driving, I'll take the hit in the wallet versus using an ICE and paying the same or more anyways.. can't wait to hear more details about cost and rollout plans.

rchiang | June 21, 2013

I'm curious how the machine works underneath and what happen to the other battery. Because it was hard to see what happen to the other battery. I though the battery under our car was a flat plate as wide as my table.
Also depending how much this swap will cost every time.
I think it will also increase in the value of resale in a long run plus that would eliminate the issue of maintaining battery because your always getting new batteries. I guess not to worry how you charge at home anymore. So it can be a plus.

gasnomo | June 21, 2013

where are you coming up with these prices? just pulling them from your derrière? | June 21, 2013

Online Shipping:

--- Some are willing to wait longer and pay nothing for shipping
--- Some are willing to pay something for overnight
--- Some are willing to pay a lot for same day shipping

Choices, choices, choices

With ICE, it's one choice...

Pay to Pollute

mdemetri | June 21, 2013

Forbes (not my derrière). $60-$80 per swap.

jchangyy | June 21, 2013

My only fear is that spending money on building "up"(or down) the battery swap stations does not take away from expanding (increasing the number of supercharging stations AND bays) current and future supercharging stations.

HenryT2 | June 21, 2013

What is a long wait at Costco? 10 minutes? 15??? Try an hour or two in the desert sun in Barstow after several hours on the road and possibly nursing a hangover. Also, most of the cars I see in the Costco lines are not the $60K+ luxury car variety.

When the Gen III hits the road, they may not be as willing to pay, for sure. And then us Model S owners will be waiting in a line 10 deep for our chance at free electricity. I'm cheap. But I'm not going to wait 2 or 3 hours for free electricity - esp. in the middle of a long trip (and for me, with 2 impatient children in the car).

Bubba2000 | June 21, 2013

Battery swapping is neither cost effective or practical. Add the cost of the facilities, land, 50 battery packs and it is a couple of $M minimum. Plus maintenance cost. Battery logistics.

Meanwhile, advances in battery tech will make battery swapping irrelevant. Panasonic is already shipping batteries that could give 500 mile range. Less than 1% will even need supercharging. With a larger pack, charging an extra 150 miles will take less than 10 minutes.

Tesla needs to focus its limited capital on deploying SC in the US/Canada and parts of Europe. Plain cheap SC with no solar panels.

I ordered a loaded 85P loaded. The last thing I want is end up with somebody's rental battery and then think about the logistics of returning. I want to keep my life simple... plug and play. 20 min is barely enough for a snack and use of bathrooms after 3 hours of driving. Heck, the wife and the kids will be screaming long before then for a pit stop.

mdemetri | June 21, 2013

No need to wait hours if Tesla builds out the SC network properly. More SC/faster charging/more stations per site = no waiting. You cannot apply the current SC network situation to what wait times will be when fully and properly built out.

Like jchangyy said, the concern is that at 500K per station, this will delay take away from the SC build out at only 150K per station.

mcptwo | June 21, 2013

I am very glad that Elon Musk is the CEO, because his vision has given me an amazing car. I am off to Sacramento from Carmel, CA today with a stop in Gilroy Supercharger.
If I had any influence with future corporate decisions, I would make Supercharger build out a top priority, cancel the Model X and fast track the development of the affordable Gen III model so I could buy one for my children....

mdemetri | June 21, 2013

Bubba2000 +1

HenryT2 | June 21, 2013

Hey, no need to get rude, especially since he's right (about the cost - don't agree with him about the rest). According to Musk, the cost will be approx. 15 gal. gas and you have to swap back at which point you'll be charged for a second swap = $120-160 (depending on which gas price you use). I suppose there is an argument for not swapping - but it sounds like the reswap is the standard method that Tesla is structured to support. I'm not sure I'm comfortable being charged the difference for a battery that may have been "ridden hard".

As to the rest, you can't compare a line of people waiting for people to complete their 3 minute fill ups and a line of people waiting to complete 30-60 minute charges. How'd you like to get in line behind a guy who decides to extend his meal or shopping trip and spends an hour and a half away from the charger? And this would most likely be after spending 2 or 3 hours on the road and being 2 to 3 hours away from home.

Finally, just knowing that it's an option makes it easy to plan for a trip. For instance, I would never take my S to Vegas because I can't be sure I can get to the charger there in a reasonable amount of time. On weekends, the entire freeway from LA to Vegas is a parking lot. I can picture getting to Barstow only to find 10 or 12 other Teslas waiting to charge up. At that point, yes, I'm going to pay $120-160 (assuming that I'm not going to pay the difference in battery cost) so that I can save the integrity of my entire trip. I'd hope not to do that, but the fact that the option is there would make me far more likely to make the trip in the first place.

gasnomo | June 21, 2013

rude? where was i rude? and he is clearly not right...a battery swap does not just include electricity, it includes a new piece of equipment. a recharge includes just electricity, so a recharge would fit his analogy, not a full battery swap.

bradykp | June 21, 2013

I pay about $67 to fill up my 17 gallon gas tank in my Subaru today. That gets me about 360 miles, depending on my driving. I'd happily pay $60-$80 in some circumstances to get a fresh charge. it eliminates the only valid criticism people have on EVs. Even with a 250 miles range, if i want to take a trip this summer to North Carolina, like I'll be doing, if I had a Tesla, i'd have to leave it home. with the swap, I could do it. With a supercharger, I could most likely do it, but it's a slight inconvenience unless they are perfectly spaced for my trip. We'll see - but people who are buying $80,000 vehicles will certainly pay $60-$80 to save 30 minutes of their day when they need to.

I have Amazon Prime, not primarily for the two day shipping, but it's nice.

gasnomo | June 21, 2013

people need to remember you will actually have to get two swaps, for if you do not, you will be 'charged the difference', whatever that means. So its not just one swap, its either 2 or 1 + a penalty.

TFMethane | June 21, 2013


The Barstow Supercharger has either 6 or 8 stations. I went out on a Friday afternoon and back on a Sunday recently, and I only ever saw one other Tesla there. For now, there is an excess of capacity there.

mdemetri | June 21, 2013


I am clearly right about the price (Forbes quoting Elon):

"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"

Tom A | June 21, 2013

Obviously supercharging can, and will, remain free. The solar panels will more than cover the electricity draw over time. Plus, the stations can be considered as part of the very low advertising budget.

Also, as far as I can tell, you are not charged the difference for a newer pack unless you plan to keep it (and, presumably, giving up the rights to your older pack you left behind at the swapping station). Swapping during a trip is just the swapping fee each time, as long as you pick yours back up on the way home.

Although I cannot say for certain, it appears that the choice to keep the newer swapped pack is an active thing you do, and there is probably a time constraint with automatic billing for those few who try to get away with not paying the currently undetermined fee for the newer pack.

You know, depending on how much that fee is, this could revolutionize Tesla ownership more than the $12k battery replacement program or even supercharging. If you can swap to a newer pack after a few years, for a fee, why not? Screw the $12k. The car will last many, many years (few moving parts and aluminum body with mostly aluminum frame). Now, with swapping, you have an easy-access way to keep your pack new every 4 or 5 years.

Of course, that's assuming there is serious degradation of charge capacity, which, from what I understand, isn't an issue. But, as you get close to the warranty, who knows.

Naturally, this all depends on what the upgrade fee schedule actually turns out to be...

welockett | June 21, 2013

How are they going to track your battery pack? Are they all barcoded now, such that you can be guaranteed to get your orginal pack back? I would not be happy if I did a swap and ended up getting an older used pack when I swap back. My pack will surely go into the rotation while I am using the swapped pack. Seems unlikely that my pack would be put aside and stored for the days or week I am traveling.

HenryT2 | June 21, 2013

I'm sure tracking the packs are easy. RFID or barcode or something fairly simple. However, holding on to individual battery packs, that seems a little unusual - as you say, it would be reasonable to assume at least days or even a week. Further, it seems like keeping all the packs on some kind of rotating rack that allows access to all packs seems like a very costly and unnecessary expense. Further, does that mean that every location has to store a variety of 60s and 85s? It would seem MUCH more cost effective to store only 85s and then software limit them (like they have with the 40s).

Jolinar | June 21, 2013

I think the price per swap will be the key. $30 sure! $50-60 maybe... $100 no way!

mdemetri | June 21, 2013


We agree on tracking packs, very difficult. While Tesla could start the site with only 85's, 60's will swap and therefore they will need to be stored and prior to their return (if they return at all).

EVTripPlanner | June 21, 2013

I don't think that the battery swap demo is about convenience, money or anything that practical. It is about removing naysayer barriers and demonstrating determination.

Every time the skeptics focus on a barrier that makes EVs impractical, Elon has torn it down. Performance, Range, Charge Time, Road Trip Worthiness, Buyer Acceptance...when someone (Broder or otherwise) focuses on something that they believe will keep EVs from getting widespread adoption, Elon disarms them. Will superchargers be the difference between success and failure? Will battery swapping? Not because they are used by the majority on a daily practice, 99%+ of TMS usage does not involve these things (though I am REALLY glad I've been able to do road trips to Vegas and SoCal-NorCal). But having these things demonstrated commitment and instilled confidence that any disadvantages to the costly convenience of a petrol-based infrastructure will be eliminated. They help buyers and investors in the decision-making process. They remove barriers.

A few years from now, a 1000 lb. battery could easily have a 2-3x the range and support 2-3x the charge rate (or we can just use smaller, lighter, cheaper batteries in our less expensive EVs). We've hit the technology tipping point. EVs just make sense going's just that they didn't make sense when the Model T started production and the infrastructure was built to support petroleum. That's a lot of historical momentum and investment to turn around, and it happens slowly. Tesla has changed the game, and Elon's commitment (even if it involved hype from time-to-time) has been critical to starting to change the trajectory.

Michael S | June 21, 2013

I agree with those of you see the value in the swap not in its convenience but in its leasing possibilities. All batteries die eventually. With the swap-lease in place (I think $200 a month is a more realistic number) one would never have to worry about battery degradation. So for $2400 a year my Model S now can be driven until the wheels fall off (500,0000 miles 750,000 who knows).....

I would swap batteries as often is I used to get oil changes, long road trips or not.

Spiky | June 21, 2013

It's Red Box for half ton platters!

EVTripPlanner | June 21, 2013

Agreed that "lease" makes sense. Elon is a Silicon Valley (ex-software) guy. The rage is recurring revenue with SaaS and subscription-based business models. Instead of buying the car for $70,000, you buy it for $45,000 and a $250 per month "subscription" that includes batteries (when yours degrades below a certain capacity) and electricity (when you need it on road trips). Basically, this reduces the up-front cost and compensates Tesla for lifetime cost savings of electricity over gas. Truth is, that I think this MUST happen for Tesla to sell their lower cost BMW 3-killer.

TeslaOR | June 21, 2013

A side benefit of the battery swap installations may be power storage. The batteries in storage could be used to supply a higher peak power to the superchargers when not needed for swapping, and can be used to store excess solar power and cheap grid power during the night. Possibly even sell power back to the utilities during the day. I'm sure Solar City understands the business model.

EVTripPlanner | June 21, 2013

+1 @ TeslaOR - boy, does that make sense! They had already started deploying battery stacks at the superchargers to handle peak loads (not always easy to get a 500kW+ feed in a remote location!) and make max use of the solar. Guess the battery stack is just a hopper for the auto-swapper.

uselesslogin | June 21, 2013

I think the $60-$80/swap and likely desire to pay it again and pick up your battery is what makes this workable. It is expensive (though not that expensive) so they need to be sure they are recovering the costs if it ends up being a service people use. If no one uses it during the initial roll out it will be canned or suspended until the Gen III comes out with lower battery ranges.

carlk | June 21, 2013

Yes the same thing when Steve Jobs showed the first iPhone. How could one use a phone or type without a keypad? Lol...

BTW the note the professor wrote on Fred Smith's paper is in order to get a better grade the idea has to work. Lol again....

That's what separates visionaries and common folks.

joshuabinder | June 21, 2013

Battery swap, to me, is an option. An option some are willing to pay as mentioned several times in this thread. The concerns about swapping a battery that is "driven hard" is ridiculous because the warranty comes with it. And, right now you have no guarantees that the current battery you have, assuming you have a Model S :), will be perfect for 8 years +.
At the end of the day, and I'm pretty sure Elon has taken a page out of Steve Job's Apple play book, they need to focus on battery technology. The REAL game changer will be if they offer an upgraded battery that can get 4-500 miles per charge. There is no doubt in my mind it's close. So, imagine if you pull in to a TESLA charge/ battery swap station and now you have the option to swap out your battery for a 250, 350 or 500 mile battery, for a price of course. That would lend itself to the delivery model of 3-day ground, 2-day express, or overnight shipping options. And/or, as battery technology becomes more efficient and lighter, you will see Model S on the roads for a very long time. I see that. Either way, it was brilliant to have designed the Model S to be able to battery swap.

brijam | June 21, 2013

@mdemetri : since I own a P85 I really don't even look at gas stations anymore but I don't recall ever seeing a high end car waiting in line at Costco. It's a completely different market segment. Personally, I value my time a little higher than waiting 15 minutes to save a dollar. I suspect I'm not alone.

@Bubba2000 : Swap is both practical and cost effective. You're looking at it as a single owner, and we can agree to disagree (as an owner I see it as cheap and practical). But look at it from a bigger perspective. What's the barrier to faster supercharging? Having lots of power at hand. The grid can't handle it; they need a huge battery. What's the swap station? A massive battery. So Tesla gets to harness the battery packs to increase power to superchargers. But the big win for Tesla is that they'll be charging all the batteries at /night/ balancing the electric grid and using cut-rate off-peak electricity. Practical. Cost effective. Brilliant.

Personally as an owner I see $120 as being a pretty reasonable cost for ~500 miles of charge, especially if it saves me an hour sitting around on the side of the road. If it's two hours each time because of a line it's a no-brainer to swap.