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

TI Sailor | June 21, 2013

@Mr. Electric - "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?"

When I turn in the propane tank at Home Depot, they don't weigh it and take off a percentage of the swap cost based on how much I have left. They presume I wouldn't be swapping if it wasn't economically justified.

@brljam - "I've never once taken a different return route from a road trip. Just wondering have any of you? "

I do. I take I-95 to NC (shortest route) to visit family and return by Atlanta and I-75 to also visit family and rental property. Still, it's a choice whether to use swapping or not and I wouldn't in this circumstance. I might though for a quick run to Atlanta and back.

As far as total swapping cost goes, it's for the service, convenience and full charge (no range anxiety). I'm wouldn't be bothered by a $59-$79 charge; $99 might give me pause.

snowmass4 | June 21, 2013

Battery swapping provides an interesting option for commercial users such as livery drivers, and police cars. One of their main objections has been that the down time of charging was problematic. Swapping instantly solves that problem.

HenryT2 | June 21, 2013


I agree with you fully. It's really shocking how many early adopters are so shortsighted. "It only takes me 30 min. to charge!" This is, of course, as long as there isn't a line of cars ahead of you. But, of course, there will soon be tens of thousands (possibly 100s of thousands soon) more cars hitting the roads every year. And, though there will be more supercharging stations out in Wyoming and Nebraska, there will still be the same number of stations (or maybe a few more stalls) in the Los Angeles or Bay Area. That does not bode well for the potential for a quick, free charge.

Supercharging for free may well end up being the "gimmick" soon. If there are 10 people in front waiting to charge up for free and a $60 charge takes 1.5min., I suspect there may be more market for the battery swap in the long run than people are giving it credit for.

HenryT2 | June 21, 2013

BTW, I love the introduction of the second car. Very Jobsesque. Like Job' "One more thing."

J.T. | June 21, 2013

@brljam - "I've never once taken a different return route from a road trip. Just wondering have any of you? "

I live on Long Island and my daughter was interning in DC. Went for a visit.
I drove down with my wife, Verrazano, SI Expwy, 440 south, Outerbridge Xing, I-95 south (NJ Tpke) over Delaware memorial bridge and into DC.

While there I scratched my eye with my contact lens and couldn't drive home, plus I couldn't see due to the light sensitivity.

My wife drove home and I kept my eyes closed most of the ride.

After a while I asked her where we were and she said, "We're going through Philadelphia."

"That's funny," I said. "We didn't go through Philadelphia on the way down!"

So, to answer your question, "yes."

gasnomo | June 21, 2013

I don't think its us early adopters being shortsighted at all. It depends on cost vs convenience. You guys are throwing out figures like $60 and $99. Tesla is asking us to pay $150 for a duffle bag, $250 for a trunk guys really think the battery swap is going to cost $60? And let's say it does cost under $100 (I'm taking the over btw), that comes out to $1ish per kWh...that changes the dynamic of dollar per mile operating costs...

I'm not against battery swapping, i think it will be used, especially by us early adopters, given that we are the group were costs are less of an issue. But for mass market appeal? For the Gen III car? Wide spread adoption will be a function of cost.

Rumbles | June 21, 2013

Despite reading four pages of comments, I still think there is an important perspective being missed. Forget a car owner's perspective for a moment and consider having to architect a growing infrastructure for "re-fueling" hundreds of thousands of cars. Your job is to minimize the infrastructure cost of delivering x GWh to the fleet each day. A supercharger can service ~ 15 cars per day for 300k. A swap station can service ~ 150 cars per day for $1m. Swap stations are an order of magnitude more cost effective at scale.

HenryT2 | June 21, 2013

There is also the additional usefulness of battery swap if there is the potential to "rent" additional range/power. For us 40 and 60 owners, renting an 85 for the day/week is a big additional market. For 85 owners, I would imagine the possibility of bolting in a 120+ if/when they become available would be a huge incentive.

lolachampcar | June 21, 2013

I agree that it is all about marketing and removing barriers to entry. It simply checks one more box off the list of "yea, but"....

As for cost, $100 => 30 mpg and 30 gallons so 265 miles of battery range is worth about $30.

If I were Musk, I'd start putting them in at service centers to dramatically reduce maintenance times or otherwise integrate them into the service equation.

gasnomo | June 21, 2013, you are getting a new piece of equipment, your analysis is equivalent to quick charging, which is free.

I will happily bet you that swaps won't be $30, but to wager?

Brad Holt | June 21, 2013

I don't think swaps will cost more than $30.

gasnomo | June 21, 2013

care to wager Brad?

gasnomo | June 21, 2013

Don't forget, you are required to make TWO swaps, for if you do not, you will be 'charged the difference' whatever that your choices are:

1. Pay for one swap plus incremental charge for not swapping back
2. Pay for two swaps

That will not be $30 or less....

Tom A | June 21, 2013

As I understand it, the fee will be $60 per swap (roughly a full tank (15 US gal) of premium in the US). I had guessed $40 on the thread that took guesses on how the swapping works out.

Also, as I understand it, you do not pay the difference for a newer pack unless you keep it (and thus, presumably, give up your rights to your original pack that you left behind).

What is undetermined is the fee schedule for keeping a swapped pack that is newer than your old one. The fees will be of monumental importance, since it would compete with, and could basically nullify, the $12k pack replacement program. Every 3 to 5 years, you could swap to a new pack for a fee. The already long-lasting car would be able to have the pack kept fresh for the life of the vehicle.

I am very curious about whether these stations will stock 60s and 85s. It appears (from pictures and models and mockups) that the different capacity packs are mechanically interchangeable, which leads me to assume that the only difference between an S60 and a regular S85 is software.

If this is true, then, for a fee, a 60 owner could upgrade to an 85, for a (substantial) fee plus a software upgrade.

eAdopter | June 21, 2013

I watched the video and searched the TM site looking for a reference to "return the pack" or "bill you for the difference". I didn't find any statements by TM. Can one of you please provide a link to these TM references?

HenryT2 | June 21, 2013

There is an article in Forbes and a few others. Just google Tesla and check latest news.

Not sure where exactly they got their news from - assuming Tesla or Elon directly.

mdemetri | June 21, 2013

@Rumbles - "A supercharger can service ~ 15 cars per day for 300k."

Where did you get your numbers from? SC cost ~100-150k each and have multiple stations per site (~6-8). 20 (0.33hr) min charge x 6 stations x 24 hrs per day gives a max capacity of >400 cars. Now they will not be a lot of charging in the middle of the night, so even if cut this in half it is still more than 200 cars per day at lower cost than swapping. And of course, you can always add more stations at each SC to increase availability. Cost favors SC over swapping.

Mark Z | June 21, 2013

There are no problems with Tesla Station swapping, only solutions. Think positively!

1. Before a long round trip, swap your original pack near your home. Tesla stores your original. They MAY want to charge a daily storage fee to store your original pack.

2. Enjoy your cross country trip and use any Supercharger or swap station. It's your choice! If you are stopping for lunch or dinner at the SuperCharger, then you don't need to swap. Spend the $60 to $80 on food! If there is a long line for free SuperCharging, then you can choose to wait or not. Many times no line will exist, so take a 20 to 40 minute rest stop and "fill up" for free.

3. When you return home, drive Model S until you return to the nearby swap station to retrieve your original pack.

If you are taking a one way trip and decide to swap your original pack and not retrieve it, then you pay the difference. Imagine that, another problem turned into a solution.. Imagine IF the Tesla Station allows you to choose the quality of pack in storage. Would you like a Premium (new) or Regular (used) pack? So many solutions to think about and yet, never use if you don't want to.

And if you don't or cannot swap near home, here is the most important reason to always swap at the first Tesla Station when you know you will return to that station. You are saving your original pack from usage. Certainly that is worth $60 to $80 even if is a round trip from LA to SF. It's a small price to pay for flexibility and fewer miles on your original pack.

jk2014 | June 21, 2013

Sales will go through the roof if Tesla licenses battery swap system to police and taxi services. No business in private owner unless its $30/swap with reswap of original fully charged battery included. If its all about marketing, then take the lost. Eventually swap will be phased out as charging speed increases so hopefully they will convert swap supercharger stations into service centers if they actually build it out in significant numbers.

Mog | June 21, 2013

I read the comments from many the 85 owners and it makes me think you've forgotten that supercharging is only free (prepaid) for you, not for 60 owners. For us it costs $2K at original purchase or $2.5 to upgrade. For my situation, the 60 is more than adequate for all my normal driving, and paying $2K for one or two trips a year didn't make (economic) sense. I can just drive my other car and put in gas. Now, I have the option to pay-as-I-go for my one or two trips a year, which is awesome. Since I live in CA and mostly would be driving to SoCal and back, I expect to use it.

So, I "saved" either $2K or $10K (for 85), but I still get to drive down south and back in my electric car, with no SC waiting. Pretty sweet! Since the majority of people have a short commute, why isn't this the best solution for everyone except 85 owners?

Skotty | June 21, 2013

Is there any official word about if 60 kWh cars can use it (not just speculation)? I would have thought that would have been one of the first questions answered. If so, the obvious second question is what size will the swapped pack be?

It sounds as though your original pack is held onto until you return. I think this is a good thing, but it also limits the number of "initial" swaps a station can handle. Each "initial" swap requires storage of the owners battery until the owner returns. Tesla would also probably need to reserve one or more inventory slots for swappable batteries only to ensure a station can continue to do "non-initial" swaps even after the "initial" swaps are maxed out.

On top of that, do they intend to do swapping for the Gen III platform? They probably had to also reserve space for that, or plan on some sort of future expansion path. It is highly likely that the Gen III battery back will be a different package, because otherwise you probably couldn't make the Gen III car smaller.

At first I was against pack swapping, but I am now leaning in favor so long as it doesn't hinder supercharger rollout or bankrupt the company (and at the moment it doesn't appear either of these will be issues).

brijam | June 21, 2013

@jk2014 +1

Massive win for cops, taxis and local delivery companies. I would love to see UPS, FedEx, etc make use of this technology for the last few miles.

AmpedRealtor | June 21, 2013

What we saw last night was a technology demonstration which will resonate throughout the industry. The purpose of this demo is to put everyone on notice that there really should be no objection to buying an electric car because it so overwhelmingly trounces anything available on the ICE side.

The PR is going to go a long way, hence all the pomp and circumstance last night. The rest is just an experiment. If Tesla does take this national, it will benefit from large economies of scale. As far as the cost of swapping, even if it's as low as $50, I would rather spend 40 minutes at a supercharger. I might pay $50 if it doubled my range, but not to just get a fully recharged battery in 90 seconds. I suppose if you are a busy executive and time is money, sure the cost is trivial if you are racing to an important board meeting.

I look at this much more simply. In the ICE world, last night's demo would be akin to replacing your empty fuel tank with a full tank in 90 seconds. Maybe if that's how the oil industry did things a hundred years ago, we would be used to it by now. But the process of decanting a liquid into a big container is far, far faster than putting a charge into a battery.

The limiting factor here is still going to be the supercharger location, as these swapping stations will only be installed at existing supercharger locations. Given that limitation, and that we are only at the very beginning stages of supercharger expansion, I think we've got a long way to go before this catches on. And even then, it's a Tesla-only technology that is not open to Nissan, Mitsubishi, Toyota, Ford or other EVs.

evpro | June 21, 2013

I think battery swapping is primarily a psychological and marketing advantage. Prospective owners will like the idea but few may actually use it. The value is in knowing that the car won't ever be bricked due to a battery issue and that newer higher range batteries can easily be retrofitted at any time. It eases both range anxiety and end of warrantied life anxiety.

riceuguy | June 21, 2013

Please would take $50-$100 million in marketing spend just to educate the world on why battery swapping isn't needed. Why not just take that money, build swapping stations, and save yourself an argument if you're Tesla.

The biggest difference between Tesla and Better Place is (a) a lot more people drive/will drive Teslas than electric Renaults, (b) Tesla spent next to nothing to develop the tech since it is basically the same machine the factory uses modified to permit storing and selecting of batteries, plus Tesla already has the locations; Better Place spent hundreds of millions in R&D and more still on real estate.

rtb | June 21, 2013

jk2014--I agree--they have to be thinking about taxis and private car services.

gary.greene | June 21, 2013

Docrob is right on. That's the way is see this panning out and I think it's great. As a 60 kwh owner I can rent an 85kwh for the few times a year I need longer range, take a road trip, and return it (just like any other rental arrangement such as skis, cars, or whatever) when I return home. The nominal fee is quite reasonable. I don't see people doing multiple swaps on a road trip because that defeats the purpose of free supercharging and is prohibitively expensive. Might as well drive your ICE car in that instance. Bravo Tesla!

mdemetri | June 21, 2013


We do not know whether 60's will be able to rent an 85kwh pack without software limits to 60kwh.

I think this illustrates a critical point: are the swaps for range extension or fast charging????

Range extension gets the 60's excited (and would get me excited if I could get a 120kwh battery for my P85). However, Tesla calls this fast charging, not range extension. Given what they did with the 40's, 60's will likley be range limited to 60 (unles they releae a 120kwh pack).

As I originally said early in this post and many agree, this is a marketing gimmick that will drive sales by allaying the fears of current ICE owners (mostly 60's if not range limited battery swap).

No one should get too excited about this being built out nation wide. The liklihood is very low. Tesla is not committed to it. Indeed, as JamesM pointed out on another thread, Elon thinks that it is unlikley a long-term strategy: "However, Musk also made the admission that the battery swapping service probably wouldn’t be much of a long-term venture as when speaking of the company’s third-generation car, he suggested that the focus would be more on faster battery charging."

Tesla will put a few swap stations along I-5 in CA, they will not be used enough to justify cost of a nation wide build out and that will be the end of it.

In the meantime, Tesla will market swapping and sell lots of cars, develop and role out a 500 mile pack and more efficient SC. SC is the future, not battery swapping (better place went under for a reason). Once new owners get the car, they will realize home and supercharging is all that is required for >99.9% of driving. The concept of swapping will have got them to buy the car, but they will quickly realize they dont need it.

Frankly, another brilliant plan by Tesla and Elon. Love it!!!!!

ian | June 21, 2013

If you all haven't read SamoSam's post about his conversation with JB Straubel, I highly recommend it. I think it's way more interesting than this pack swap demo. Especially the parts that mdemetri mentions, that a 500 mile pack is "not that far away" and that they will be able to keep increasing the speed of the superchargers.

The pack swap is pretty cool though.


mreitman | June 21, 2013

Am I correct that 85 KW comes with a more powerful motor? Mercedes charges $10k plus to go from a six cylinder to an 8. Many times when Mercedes has changed the body style they have made a lesser powered car (a la the 40 kilowatt Tesla) for a year to ease the sticker shock. If you paid for an 85 KW you got a more powerful motor and this option will not be available to those who "rent" an 85kw battery. I believe that battery technology will progress quickly and that in the near future Tesla will have a 100 - 120 kw option that will make the 85kw guys want to upgrade.

ian | June 21, 2013

The Performance model of the 85 comes with a higher capacity inverter. The regular 85 has the same motor as the 60. The 85 is quicker though because the battery can provide more electrons and hence more power than the the 60.


ian | June 21, 2013

Sorry, the Performance comes with a higher capacity inverter AND, supposedly, a hand wound motor, which allows more current to flow through it thus more power.

Brian H | June 21, 2013

Mr. Electric (et al);
You're not sceptical, you're straining at gnats. Ignore the SOC calcs and costs. The net cost of electricity is trivial in the large picture. The "optionality" to change and manage your battery is extremely valuable to many (and hence to the marketplace); that's what this is all about.

DouglasR | June 21, 2013

Sheesh! Gone for a few hours, and all of a sudden there are a dozen new threads on swapping. I can't read 'em all, so here is my take, after a night sleeping on it.

Technologically, the swapping process is awesome. As a concept, it has the potential to change our thinking about EVs and certainly to attract new purchasers.

I have a lot of questions about its implementation, however. The devil is in the details, and a lot of the details are missing or don't make sense. And I don't think raising these questions or suggesting changes is somehow being selfish or short sighted. I assume that changes (or additional options) that would be attractive to me may be attractive to others as well, including new buyers.

So here are a few questions:

1. Why tie the price to the price of gasoline? Who cares about gasoline? Why not just a simple fixed price?

2. How will they determine the fee when you keep a pack? Will it be based on the age or condition of the old battery? What about the age and condition of the new battery? Will we be told before we swap what these potential costs will be?

3. How long can you keep the pack before they conclude you've bought it? Do you need to affirmatively let them know you intend to keep it?

4. Do you get a credit if the pack you turn in is better than the one you get?

5. How long does it take to swap your old pack back in? I assume they need to identify it from storage and then move it into position before doing the swap. Is this all automated? If the battery has been sitting several weeks in storage, can they still do this in 90 seconds?

6. Will they be using your old battery while they store it? Any credit for that?

7. If you make several swaps serially on a long trip, do you count the time of possession from the first battery you get or the last? Do you need to return each battery to the station of origin?

8. Can you swap a 60 kWh battery for an 85 kWh battery? At what cost?

9. Can you swap a 60 kWh battery for another 60 kWh battery? Again, are there storage and identification issues? (I picture a giant carousel, like the old jukeboxes, where the batteries are selected and moved into position for swapping; a huge underground facility that wasn't necessary for the demonstration).

10. Can you request older/newer, bigger/smaller, cheaper/more expensive batteries?

11. How will this affect the battery replacement option? I assume they will just drop it.

(Hmm . . . my list goes to 11!)

The biggest problem I see in the implementation revolves around the question getting your old battery back. This may work for some people, but for me it's a ball and chain, a major drag on the feeling of freedom and flexibility that should go with owning a car. If I don't get back to pick up that battery, it could be very costly. Pricing it, storing it, shipping it back, re-installing it -- all introduce complications. So if we are all in favor of "optionality," I would like to see TM introduce another option in addition to the two offered by TM (returning the battery or buying the new one).

When I drive my car into the swap station, a determination is made as to the storage capacity of my existing battery. This can be easily done from charging logs, and probably needs to be done to value the battery under TM's proposed system anyway. So let's say my battery is capable of charging to 75 kW. I propose that we should have the option to have the new battery software-limited to 75 kW, and then never have to go back and pick up my old battery again. This may feel like wasted capacity, but it shouldn't cost TM any more, since the batteries are being continually swapped in and out of service anyway. Whether they sit in a facility to be used as grid storage, or get installed in my car and used at less than their full capacity should make very little difference to TM's costs. But it would make a big difference to me to be able to swap the battery out without having to return to the station and swap it back in, a process that adds time and cost to me for no benefit.

Just as TM's proposed system allows me to pay to keep the new battery, I would like the option to pay the same amount to remove the software limits. And I think a lot of people would ultimately do this as a way of refreshing and updating the battery in their car. And as TM gradually improves and upgrades it's batteries, people would have an ever greater incentive to purchase an upgrade in this way.

Anyway, that's my idea. It doesn't have to substitute for what TM has proposed, but just made an additional way to answer the question of what to do about your old battery.

jk2014 | June 21, 2013

+1 douglasr

Docrob | June 21, 2013

I am bemused and dismayed by the "they shouldn't do this because I think it's a bad idea" attitude so many seem to have. Guess what? Don't like it? DON'T USE IT. It's a free country, if tesla want to build a few and see if people use them then go for it. For a land that is supposed to be the land of liberty and free market capitalism there seems to be a lot of opposition to giving people options and the liberty to decide what works for them. As Elon said the intent is to give people two choices, fast or free, take your pick then back off and let others decide for themselves too.

mrjd26 | June 21, 2013

Tesla is keeping it interesting. I'm curious if it will be possible to excavate in all those supercharger parking lot locations as the land is leased. Also the excavation cost plus the robotics? and machinery to swap the batteries will get costly, not to mention the 50 packs x 7000 Li - Ion cells just sitting there unused. Basically most Tesla owners are going to get forced into these $60-80 battery swaps at the locations as there are only like 5 or so stalls for superchargers at the locations, and the drivers will still have to get back to that location to swap for their original battery pack. I would think the inconveniences are short term though. If Tesla sticks it out for another ten years I would think the batteries would become totally fungible and the owner just pays some up front price for the vehicle. Then there could be all kinds of cool applications like the cars are all 'talking' to the super charger location to let the station know how many batteries need to be ready to go full charge for a swap out. It may be possible to use all those batteries packs to store solar energy and sell to the grid, etc. Plus if Tesla has pack diagnostics at a location, it is in essence a service center or preventive maintenance if you will. 'Sick' packs will be detected and deterred from entering the pack swap cycle.

Docrob | June 21, 2013

"Sick" packs from an EV point of view are still fine for stationary storage, not on,y can these packs be removed from the EV pool but can be segmented and sold as home solar storage packs and the proceeds split between Tesla and the pack owner. This system unlocks,any many novel business opportunities and I am excited t see how and if it develops.

HenryT2 | June 21, 2013

I just realized that if Tesla stores 50 batteries at each location (as implied by several articles), the cost of the batteries alone would be more than the $500K per location. Is Musk talking about the installation cost w/o batteries? Or is the cost of batteries FAR cheaper than we ever imagined?

jk2014 | June 21, 2013

Also a business opportunity in elon starting a battery lease/sales/rental company. Majority of battery stores will be collocated at each supercharger/swap station. Offer various battery lease/sale/rental options including upgrading to most current tech that becomes available to MS/MX/GENIII.

Said this few times before, also a secondary market for used batteries in PV storage systems so developing a company that specializes in automotive/utility energy storage might make sense from a long term perspective.

Also, more batteries produced now the cheaper the cars get for customers in the future and higher probability geniii will achieve 30k price target

Brian H | June 21, 2013

You have no idea how much those batteries cost TM.