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

Docrob | June 20, 2013

Douglas R, I don't think they would ship it directly back to you, I could see a Tesla truck with the body specially designed to accept batteries from swap stations into a rack, then driving those packs back to their point of origin or onto their destination. Left your pack in San Fran or at Harris Ranch because you needed to get back to LA fast and there was a queue at the supercharger? No probs, Tesla's battery distribution truck will have your precious battery back at the Hawthorne depot for your retrieval within a few days for a fee.

PapaSmurf | June 20, 2013

I will likely not get involved with battery swaps. I am not typically in a hurry for an appointment when driving over 200 miles. I would rather spend the 15-30 using the bathroom, getting a drink, letting the kids run around, chat with other Model S owners.

Docrob | June 20, 2013

The important caveat to your comment JamesM is that if the battery swap stations exist you can choose whether to use them or not, if they don't you obviously can't. Even if used very little Tesla can say the technology and infrastructure exists to swap your battery faster then filling a tank, that is worth big big marketing dollars.

mwojcie | June 20, 2013

It's all about options and time is money - everyone has their price on what they will pay for convenience. If there are 3 teslas waiting in line for the each supercharge then maybe $60 or $80 bucks for a few min doesn't look so bad. Plus there are all kinds of stories of people leaving there cars at supercharges for hours after they are charged. When you don't get out of your car and it only takes 90 seconds each tesla even a line of 10 cars for a battery swap would be a good option. I saw it in person tonight and it was very impressive! I definitely could see myself using it occasionally.

dubaty | June 20, 2013

A piece of the business model that hasn't been mentioned is the possibility of this technology being used by other auto makers in the future. As more of them start to manufacture true EVs (ground up), the natural location of the battery pack is in the floor and if they can all use this technology, they get to ease range anxiety and Tesla gets another revenue stream.

Robert22 | June 20, 2013

TM is anticipating a growing fleet of Its vehicles. To prevent having to build parking lots full of superchargers this will offload supercharger congestion and decrease the wait for an additional cost. It's like paying more for the special passes that let you move to the front of the line at DisneyWorld.

DouglasR | June 20, 2013

@Robert22 - Agreed, but that convenience is offset by the need to return to the same station to pick up your battery. You lose the flexibility (without paying a lot more money) of being able to change your plans, take an alternate route home, and exercise the kind of freedom you have with an ICE car. This freedom is something Elon talks about a lot, but I don't see it in this plan. Also, it will get pretty complex to store each battery belonging to each owner, and to serve up that battery if and when he returns at some indefinite time.

I think the technology of swapping is awesome, but the plan is far from elegant.

ORWA | June 20, 2013

DouglasR +1

Colasec | June 20, 2013

Regardless of its feasibility as a business model or its practicality of use in everyday life, that demo was amazing (and *impossible* to do more than dream about just a few years ago). A ~260mile range, performance luxury sedan pulls up and gets a full new range in 90 seconds? C'mon guys - that's a big step even if it doesn't make sense in the real world.

andyrebele | June 20, 2013

If I have an 85 kWh battery I've abused (lots of miles, lots of supercharges, lots of deep discharges) over a short period of time, then it's a no-brainer to swap it and keep the replacement. According to the articles, my remaining warranty period is unchanged. So, what would the "difference fee" be? Even if a perfect measure of battery condition could be made, I imagine a regular customer would have a hard time swallowing a fee to switch out a perfectly good 85 kWh battery for another, because Tesla says the new one has lower internal resistance or fewer miles.

If the "difference fee" is only for switching a 60 kWh pack for an 85 kWh pack, with no fee charged for same pack size, then there is a perverse incentive to switch out a badly abused pack for an otherwise identical pack in better condition, for no fee. Then the switching stations end up with a pool of packs that have been ridden hard.

In my own Model S, I take good care of my battery most of the time, since even though it is under warranty for unlimited miles, I want it to last much longer than the warranty, and retain as much range as possible. If I have a temporary swap battery, then I have neither incentive to take good care of it.

The technical demo works, but the business case doesn't.

Xerogas | June 20, 2013

As a 40kW owner, I will GLADLY pay the swap fee so that I can drive cross-country (or even to Santa Barbara from San Diego), and GLADLY pick up my original battery at the same station on my way home. For me, it's a matter of $120 vs $13,000

Still not sure how this makes monetary sense to Tesla, but that doesn't stop me from being thrilled that it will be available soon!

PapaSmurf | June 20, 2013

I think that people would be using Range mode a lot while they have the rental pack. Those will be the worst.

mcptwo | June 20, 2013

Battery swapping process is certainly impressive, but with almost 9,000 miles on our Model S 85, and about 18 visits to Superchargers, I find it completely irrelevant. The only real or perceived economy of driving a Tesla Model S on extended trips is the free use of the Superchargers. I enjoy the relaxation of getting out of my car for what has usually been between 15-20 minutes to recharge. I would not be interested in swapping battery packs even if it were free. This is a relatively useless gimmick that almost no one would consider.

I would be much more impressed and am waiting patiently for additional Supercharger locations. Please Tesla do not get distracted.

Docrob | June 20, 2013

It is possible Andyrebele that such abuse could occur, there are a few options to deal with it. It is possible that some measure of pack condition can be measured and compensation or charge applied as appropriate to the pack you are surrendering. Seriously heavily used packs can be segmented and re-purposed as supercharger battery storage or broken up into Solarcity home storage units. In the end if you think the risk of getting a lesser pack is too high and you've coddled your own pack then you don't have to use the system, an argument which applies to all the other people saying this reduces flexibility of just using your own pack at a supercharger, it doesn't do anything unless you want it to because using the system is entirely voluntary.

Docrob | June 20, 2013

Xerogas, it makes business sense because they are not just loaning the $20,000 pack to you for $120 they are loaning it to 1000 other people at $120 each for a total of potentially $120,000 gross proceeds per pack available to hire, at the end of which Tesla can still sell the packs with their residual storage for stationary applications. Numbers are for demonstration purposes only and obviously station build costs, charging and upkeep have to come out first but the numbers are compelling..

Robert22 | June 20, 2013

@ DouglasR-

I couldn't agree more. I can't foresee any situation in which I'd use it unless escaping a natural or man-made disaster, in which case I'm sure I'd be waiting in line with many like-minded individuals. Another thing that bothers me is how easy it might be to strip a thread or blow a hydraulic connection in a robotic swap. It's only a matter of time before an overzealous robot punches a hole in a battery pack due to a car height glitch. What about winter? I remember how much snow was packed into my undercarriage. How do robots fare with frozen parts? There are still many particulars that need to be revealed. If the market doesn't tank tomorrow it will be interesting to see how the stock performs.

riceuguy | June 20, 2013

@MCPtwo...there is a big leap from "I would not use it" to "almost no one would consider" using it. You don't have a need for it, and that's great because you will save money. I may very well have a use for it and it helps make the case for us to make our next second car a Tesla since we currently still feel the need to have a gas car for long day trips where an hour at the SC (with the 60kwh, that's the reality if you're going to do any driving at your destination!) each way puts a major dent in your destination time. It's important not to generalize what everyone wants based on what you want (insert "only child" joke here).

mdemetri | June 20, 2013

This ia all a gimmick for marketing, which I am ok with as long as it does not distract Tesla from more important issues - sc build out, model x, gen III etc

Docrob | June 20, 2013

Mdemetri, no, this is a service that doesn't interest you. But may open up this vehicle to individuals like Riceguy above who would otherwise have to pass on it. Yes it has marketing value, but for many people it has real world value and in fact could be the determining factor in deciding to buy and be far more significant then superchargers. For them this isn't a distraction but a game changer, demanding they ignore other customers because this doesn't work for you is the height of selfishness.

djy | June 20, 2013

For all the owners thinking no one would possibly swap when they can simply supercharge have never had to wait for a supercharger. The last couple of times I was at Hawthorne to charge, there has been a wait. With each passing day there are more Tesla owners and therefore longer waits at the superchargers. For $60, I'm sure there are more than only a few owners that would gladly pay that instead of waiting 2 or more hours (1 hour for a charger to open up and 1 to charge your car).

DouglasR | June 20, 2013

Speaking of Me, the only element of the five-part trilogy that is of any use to me is the quicker build-out of the supercharger network. I already bought my car so couldn't use the financing; I live close to a service center and don't need a loaner; etc. But as swapping serves pretty much the same purpose as the supercharger stations, I would personally benefit much more from a denser and more quickly deployed supercharger network. Even as projected for 2015, there are many places I want to drive where the supercharger network will not conveniently take me (i.e., I would have to go miles out of my way to charge).

My point: I hope this does not distract from the SC build-out, and I would love to see TM spend that $100 million on more of them. Maybe that's why he's a gazillionair and I'm not.

essendon2000 | June 20, 2013

I feel this demo is more a statement by Tesla to the world saying we have the ability and the means to stave off obsolescence to our current line of car offerings when battery technology improves in the future. And it is going to improve .... that much is for sure. As far as practicality in the real world ... not so much when there is already a plan to put in place an ever expanding network of free juice .... SUPERCHARGERS. I think the pool of resources that Tesla has set aside to build this battery swapping infrastructure would be better utilised by building even more superchargers with higher charging capacity than currently planned.

TFMethane | June 20, 2013

+1 riceguy. I think a lot of 85kWh owners don't get a lot of SC experience, and can't put themselves into the 60kWh owners' position. If you use a SC, you know that the charge slows down markedly as you get closer to a full battery (less than 1/4 the peak charge rate as you are topping off). If you're rockin' a 60kWh pack cross country, you might be stuck at the supercharger for 45 min making sure you get the absolutely max charge you can get. If you're on a long road trip and have to do this many times, it could get real annoying. If you go cross country, you might have to SC 20 times. 15+ hours at SC stations in one trip is a lot. I like Tesla owners, but not that much. I'd either rent an ICE or pay for the swaps.

I think they should only use 85kWh batteries as swap network batteries. If you want your 60 back at the end, go pick it up or pay for delivery.

If each swap were under $10 or $15, it would still be cheaper than using ChargePoint or Blink network chargers - which you're often stuck doing anyway when there is no SC around.

mdemetri | June 20, 2013


We do not know yet if 60s that swap will be software limited to 60. If so, then you will see that it also has little benefit. If not limited, yes I can see great benefit to 60s, which will come at a cost of less sales of 85s. I don't think Tesla will want to cannabilize sales of 85s, so most likely software limited and therefore not very useful.

TFMethane | June 20, 2013

Key addition: the console should display an estimate of how much the "difference fee" will be right after you swap. This would help me make a decision about whether to come back for my battery or not.

TFMethane | June 20, 2013

Sorry, I see now that it's $60-$80 after reading the article posted above.

I don't think they should charge a fee for the final swap of putting your own battery back in. That is kind of holding your original battery for ransom. Tesla is basically saying: pay another $60-$80, or we'll make you pay a huge "difference fee" for the new battery you currently have.

Charge for each swap on the road trip, then swap your original battery back in for free. This also avoids the perception of injustice for those cases in which I manage to get back to the swap station with a near-full battery. In that case, I'm not really paying for additional juice... I'm just paying my original battery ransom.

ddruz | June 21, 2013

It has not yet been mentioned on this thread that this technology demonstrates the real life feasibility of battery leasing.

What if one of the ways to make GenIII super affordable were to lease the battery, not own it? This idea is not new in the EV arena.

I can envision a time when you do not own your own car battery and battery packs are simply fungible commodities. You pull into a battery swap station any time, just like a gas station today.

We don't know Tesla's long term vision with this. It may seem like marketing gimmick or useful to only a small segment of people today for Model S but it may be mainstream technology tomorrow with Tesla-led standardized battery forms used by many car manufacturers and battery swap stations everywhere.

bent | June 21, 2013

Very impressive swap speed. I wonder how that robot deals with inclement weather conditions: snow, ice and mud on the underside of the car etc.

I do wish they could find the courage to just cut away all the financial and ownership complexities though and tell people that once you've bought your way into the swap programme then you no longer own one particular battery but instead you have the battery you last swapped to and that's that. If you're unhappy with it, go swap again.

But, not to repeat myself, I did a lengthy comment on the topic here:

DouglasR | June 21, 2013

Good point, ddruz. In that case, there would be no need to return the pack to the swap station or to pay a large fee if you don't. Then it's really like exchanging your propane canister.

Docrob | June 21, 2013

Mdemetri, I keep saying it, Tesla will happily cannibalise sales of 85s if it means more sales total, the profit margin on a car not sold is $0.
TFmethane, its only a ransom if your not told about it going in, if you are fully aware that each use of the swap station costs $80 then you can hardly call foul later if you were fully aware of the terms and conditions of use. I cant see a situation where you would be returning from a road trip with a near full battery but if so chalk it up to poor planning.

SamO | June 21, 2013


+1000 on your comments about why this is a great idea. Let's summarize:

1. This is about marketing

2. This is about changing closed minds.

3. This is a niche service for EARLY ADOPTERS (who have bought 85s in great #) but may be a mainstream product in years to come.

4. Swap has a low capital cost of $50-$100 million. Remember Ford and Chevy spent >$7Billion in advertising last year.

5. Tesla will cannibalise 85 sales to add 50-100% greater sales volume.

Did I miss anything?

trydesky | June 21, 2013

I see a lot of comments about 60's swapping out to 85's, and some day 120's.

Please correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't believe that it's possible, today. I was clearly told when I bought my 60 that I would not be able to upgrade to an 85 at a later date.

They only reason the 40's work with the 60's is that they were designed that way.

I sure hope that some day, 8 years from now, I can upgrade to the magical 500mi battery, but I'm not holding my breath.

Docrob | June 21, 2013

6. It opens up the possibility of short term leases of the largest battery pack currently available, whether that's 85kwh or 150kwh, minimising the initial vehicle cost whilst adding exceptional road tripping capability at will and future proofing every car sold.

but otherwise they are basically my thoughts.

mwojcie | June 21, 2013

I'm just always so amazed how so many people on these forums can not see beyond their own personal situation to see the bigger picture or imagine someone with different needs or values than themselves. To all of you that understand the importance and relevance of this next "Tesla first" in the automotive world - I commend you - you are "out of the box" thinkers like Elon. The rest of you - I'm not sure how you ended up being a tesla owner!

Docrob | June 21, 2013

No Trydesky, what Tesla very carefully said was they would not guarantee future upgrade ability. All current batteries share the same form factor, and any future Model S batteries must share the same form factor but as cell energy density increases so does capacity within that form factor. Tesla specifically di not want people buying undersized cars assuming they could upgrade uin the future only to have the technology not be possible or viable, however they never guaranteed that you wouldn't be able to upgrade in the future they jsut reccomended against assuming you would be able to and recommended you get the most suitable battery upfront to cover yourself in the event that swap technology never eventuated..

Docrob | June 21, 2013

+1 mwojcie, to all the people who have said this is useless because they wont use it I say thank god not everyone thinks like you because otherwise the Tesla would probably no exist. This is another option in Tesla's arsenal, I'm yet to find a situation where giving people options is a bad thing.

olanmills | June 21, 2013

I don't know if I'll ever need one, but watching that was pretty cool.

I expected something like having to pay for the price difference, but one thing that would be cool is if they gave every Tesla owner a certain amount of "swapping credit" for free. If you swap out for a better battery, your are charged, and if you swap out for a worse battery, you are given a credit. If you exceed your free credit limit and sustain that "debt" for some defined period of time, then you have to pay the bill. Same goes the other way around too. Tesla may owe you money. The key thing would be that every owner would start off with a free amount of credit in your account.

TFMethane | June 21, 2013

@docrob: The word 'ransom' is rhetorical. I'm just imagining coming back tired from a long road trip and having that one last nickel-and-dime interaction with Tesla. It doesn't matter if it's stated up front or not. It's still annoying. It wouldn't stop me personally from using it, but I bet it would turn quite a few people off.

Presumably one major purpose of these swap stations is to make an ICE-like road trip experience a reality - that means minimal advanced planning. Whether less-planned gas station fill-up is your model, or if car rental is your model, people are going to want credit for residual charge. You don't pay $50 bucks at the gas station regardless of how empty your tank is.

We're all early-adopting EV owners, and this system is cool - so we'll use it regardless. But, Tesla has to market to the rest of the country who, at best, think only in direct analogies to what they already know. I've been "selling" Teslas to my colleagues for months since I took delivery, and you'd be surprised at how nitpicky they are about direct comparisons to the ICE experience. Any slight difference from the model they are used to is perceived as a major negative.

Regarding returning from a road trip with a somewhat-full charge: There are a lot of situations where that could happen. The simplest is that I'm exhausted and have to stop 100 miles short of the swap station at a hotel that lets me plug in overnight. That's not poor planning. It's just what happens on road trips. That's how little motels in the middle of nowhere make their money.

TFMethane | June 21, 2013

If the whole swap cost $20, nobody would care about residual charge. But, since Tesla states that the cost is based on the price of a full tank of gas in the local market, people are going to think of it as paying for charge, not paying for the service of getting the pack swapped.

I guess it is similar to car rental... if you put too much gas in the tank, you feel obligated to drive it around until it's back down to where it was when you picked up the car.

JZ13 | June 21, 2013

+1 mwojcie

Agreed that this business strategy is not intended for the majority of Tesla drivers. This battery swap technology is intended to remove the final obstacle for those who are not comfortable buying an electric car. If you look at most of the 5 trilogy announcements, they were all intended to overcome the usual obstacles to buying an electric car. Guaranteeing a 50% residual takes away the "how much is it gonna be worth down the road" objection. Battery swap takes away the last objection to buying a Tesla. In fact, Consumer Reports said that if the Model S had a faster refueling system they would give it a score of 110/100. Well......I think it's time for CR to re-score the Model S.

JZ13 | June 21, 2013

In other words, even though this may not be practical for most of you, it removes 1 more argument people have against the Model S. Imagine the guy in the Tesla store contemplating the Model S. He has lost all of his reasons for not buying the car as he's getting "educated" by the Product Specialist. His final objection is: "But I don't want to have to wait 30 minutes to charge....." Now the Product Specialist has an answer to that objection. I can imagine Elon has been pondering all of the usual objections for people to stay away from electric cars. He has developed an an argument to counter ALL of them. Well done Sir!!!!!!!!!!!!

GeirT | June 21, 2013

The best take away from this demo for me is that it is simple to change battery for whatever reason you would need to. It also tells me that when (not if) the 120 or so battery will be available it would take a couple of minutes to swap. Meaning, the MS is for keeps for a very long time... not for free of course :-)

bb0tin | June 21, 2013

+1 mwojcie
I have a solution for those people who say that they will not personally use the battery swap. How about they add up the value of the free supercharging that they use, and put that towards the cost of swapping. Oh, and consider why they think that because they are getting free supercharging, that Elon, who is making the world a better place for all of us, should give up doing so unless it persoanlly benefits them.

ian | June 21, 2013

Official video up finally...

About time! ;-)

Mark Z | June 21, 2013

Elon mentioned the battery swap would be about the cost of filling up a gas car. If the stations are about 150 miles apart, then the cost of filling up at 25 mpg would be 6 gallons. That would be about 24 dollars. So let's wait until the exact price structure is announced before being concerned with higher prices.

Since our original packs can be stored until our return trip, Tesla Motors has eliminated one the major objections to swaps. As this technology spreads, that will be the time to evaluate the practicality and cost. Until then, the 85 pack and SuperChargers work very well.

Now for the best part. You don't have to swap at each station. If you are in need of a lunch or dinner stop, then use the SuperCharger. You might want to swap at only half the stations. It's your choice. Free or fee, your choice. I like that.

July10Models | June 21, 2013

The Model S is complete! I am very happy with my car, however there was this nagging feeling that what was promised was not totally delivered, like an easily swappable battery pack. Like the mail man, Tesla has delivered the world of transportation into the 21st Century an I for one welcomes this new world of possibilities. It is better than what we had it feels like the first gleamed of a new day. A supercharger can operate totally of grid out in the middle of no where and you don't have to wait for a charge if you don't want to. This is a big f*cking deal. Good work Tesla, Bravo!

brijam | June 21, 2013

I was skeptical of battery swapping right up until I saw the video. In fact I just had an argument with a friend about what a bad idea it was just a few hours ago.

But now I get it. And I'll pay for it, too.

Having done a 900 mile round trip in my P85, I speak from experience. Three times on that journey I had to wait /hours/ while a public 30amp charger got me enough power to continue.

I would have /gladly/ paid the cost of gas to battery swap -- on every single stop of my entire trip - Heck, on two of those three times I had to pay a public charger /anyway/. I am absolutely thrilled about this news.

And the fact that I get to choose between a free supercharge or a swap? That's awesome.

You can say that if I had a free supercharger option I wouldn't choose. And if there isn't a line, maybe I wouldn't swap. But consider this: in a few months there are going to be 20,000 Teslas on the road, most of them in California. There are already lines at times now. What happens in 2014? How about 2015 with 60,000 on the road, plus who knows how many Model X and a looming Gen III? No way will 6 or 8 chargers at each SC along the I5 manage the load. No. Way.

I was worried about how Tesla would solve the issue of long waits for a charge at the superchargers. This is a really elegant solution, using the same proven technology that installs batteries in their cars on the production line. Brilliant.

People will use this. You skeptics will see. I only hope it'll be ready in time for my trip to LA next month.

PS, I don't get the problem having to pick your battery up on the way back. I've never once taken a different return route from a road trip. Just wondering have any of you? I just take the fastest route both ways - and unless the distances are really great, there often aren't that many choices anyway.

gasnomo | June 21, 2013

Until they provide details on the cost of the swap, whether its a compelling proposition vs just charging is all speculation.

justineet | June 21, 2013

@brijam...another way to elevate the line issue is to make the superchargers even faster if possible......and some reports indicate that will probably happen not too long from now.....

Mr. Electric | June 21, 2013

I`m skeptic.
30min - 200 miles for free by supercharging.
1.5min - 270 miles for 70$+X by swapping.

Often you`re not at 0% SOC, do you still have to pay 70% if you swap from a 30% SOC to a 100% SOC battery?

1.If you go long distances >200 miles you want to make some rests.
So 30min charging shouldn`t be a problem.