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."

chicagoniner | 9 maj 2013

Battery swap is the obvious answer in my mind.

chicagoniner | 9 maj 2013

Looks like he followed up:

Elon MuskVerified account ‏@elonmusk 48m
@realbhuwan Don't forget the mystery announcement. Part 5 of the trilogy.

Flaninacupboard | 9 maj 2013

A gallon of "gas" contains 36kwh of energy, approx 25% of which is transferred to useful movement energy (9kwh). I'm going to say pumping ten gallons takes about 3 minutes. That's 30kwh a minute, 1800kwh per hour. Unless there's a new ULTRAcharger around the corner with 1800kw of power I would have to assume he's talking about battery swapping (or some very convoluted maths which talks about queueing time, both to refuel and to pay etc)

Either that or a range extender (hopefully not) or wireless in-motion charging, I'd like that one!

jperaptor | 9 maj 2013

Battery swap id definitely the only way to charge a 85KWH battery faster then filling up with gas.

Brian H | 9 maj 2013

Holy MegaWatts, Batman!

Hi_Tech | 9 maj 2013

From a business perspective, the battery swap concept would hit Tesla hard (IMHO). The reason is that they have promised that the 85kWh Model S owners get free access to the Super Chargers. So, if they add the battery swap concept, it may be a bit expensive for them to just "piggy-back". This is a huge assumption on my part.

Hopefully, that does happen and there is a nice super charger station fairly close to my house! :)

Any idea on when the "part 5" of the message is expected?

Flaninacupboard | 9 maj 2013

Either that or it's a joke, because in the future there will be no gas ;)

dtesla | 9 maj 2013

The only way I can imagine this happening, without a battery swap, is to perhaps charge a super capacitor quickly. The super capacitor then discharges to charge the battery over a longer time. This might even give you a way to extend the range of a 85KWh battery for longer trips. I don't know how feasible this is with today's technology.

scoops | 9 maj 2013

Don't you just love these teasers from Elon, and the fact that with each one the whole Telsa experience gets better?

jperaptor | 9 maj 2013

lets assume we are talking about a half charge say 40KWH
filling a gas tank takes no more then six minutes [tenth of an hour]
so- 40/0.1 = 400
[KWH]/[H] = [KW]

can you deliverer a 400 KW current safely?, it doesn't matter if it is going in to a super capacitor.

plus I doubt they hid a super capacitor somewhere in the model S

Brian H | 9 maj 2013

Yeah, but it's a bit nerve-wracking, doncha think?


scoops | 9 maj 2013

Not really. He's not going to big up something that's detrimental! One way or another it's always something beneficial. Call it marketing or showmanship but I quite enjoy it.

Captain_Beamer | 9 maj 2013

Battery swap is not a practical option. As Li-Ion batteries maintenance/charge-discharge rates/# of cycles/temperature stored etc., varies, the life of li-ion varies quite a bit. Would I replace my brake pads with your used brake pads? No. Unless, Tesla comes up a battery swap program and some standard to define the life of Li-ion battery..... of course it would have to come with a cost.

BYT | 9 maj 2013

TSLA is already on fire and Elon is adding (pardon the reference) fuel to it!

Billy Joel - We Didn't Start The Fire:

dsecrist | 9 maj 2013

I can't wait! Another one of Elon's tweets said that the 5th announcement will be an "announcement/demonstration". Until now, I think most people were guessing that it would be something to do with features or user interface of the car due to the "right under your nose" comment. This new tweet turns us in a specific direction. Now we can all focus our combined efforts and free time on dreaming up the wildest ideas possible! What will Elon demonstrate for us and how will he do it???

jperaptor | 9 maj 2013


now that all model S owners have a "no matter what" battery warranty , doesn't it make your point void?

I mean, it doesn't matter what battery you have right now in your car, because they all are warranted.

other option is that you rent a swappable battery and have yours waiting in a Tesla care center.

JohnFloyd | 9 maj 2013

Aren't the Superchargers rated for 120KW/H but are currently feeding 90KW/H to the battery? Not that this would make it "faster than filling the gas tank" but could feasibly "top off" in 15-20 min, which they already estimated refuel time at a typical gas station being 15 minutes?

jperaptor | 9 maj 2013

0.25*120= 30 KWH (1/3)*120 = 40KWH

20 minutes at 120 KH gets you 40 KWH
not sure how the media would react to such a weird claim.

in reality it only takes 4-7 min to fill a ICE car in any normal pump

Omnilord | 9 maj 2013

Maybe it is some kind of a joke? Forcing all fossil fuel based pumps to have a limit on flow rate since they are based on non-renewable energy sources? Would be a hell of an incentive for green technology – albeit a fairly outrages one.

RedShift | 9 maj 2013

Oh boy, what now! :-)

As for the battery swapping: I can see a usage model. You take Tesla's fully charged replacement, move on, come back, pick up your old fully charged battery (charged in your absence) and move on.

ModelS3P | 9 maj 2013

@Omnlord: yes, that would be as outrageous as giving someone a 60 kWh battery and software limiting it to only use 40 kWh. Oh, wait.

archibaldcrane | 9 maj 2013

Just remember, Elon has a flair for hyperbole. It'll probably be a comparison to filling up a 200-gallon semi truck tank.

jbunn | 9 maj 2013

On a serious note, one of our most noted connectivity manufacturer puts out "generic" hardware, and you enable features in software. Much cheaper for them to manufacture standard hardware configs, and enable functionality, even if 75% of the hardware sits idle. Also easier for the customer to upgrade in place. While the 60/40 split seems weird, it's not unheard of in the business. Plus it's a great advantage to the 40 owners. Want to upgrade? Easy as pie, no parts required.

jk2014 | 9 maj 2013

Arch -- hahaha!

elguapo | 9 maj 2013

@archibalcrane LOL, we do have to remember that. I love Elon as much as the next MS owner or TM investor, but he does have a penchant for hype. I love it though and just wish this wasn't announcement 5 of 5. I want more anticipation so we can all continue to come up with crazy ideas!

mdemetri | 9 maj 2013

How about a swapable ultracapicitor that slides into the square compartment at the back of the frunk (under the dash) to connect to the battery and charge the battery while driving! This would be 'right under your nose'. I have always wondered why this square compartment is in the frunk, it looks designed to fit something. I know, wild speculation but it is fun.

zwjohnston7 | 9 maj 2013

Elon always talks about your total time at the gas station. I don't think he is referring to just how long it takes to pump the gas, he is talking about spending 15-30min at the gas station, driving up, filling up, bathroom break, maybe a snack, etc.

dsecrist | 9 maj 2013

Based on what we saw with the financing announcement and how they justified the $500/mo cost, @archibaldcrane, one would be wise to keep that in mind.

For any comparisons to be valid, we must compare the time to put x kWh of juice into a battery with the time to pump an equivalent amount of gasoline to drive the same distance. And furthermore, it should be an average of time over a long distance. For example, the Tesla might have to make 2 stops while a gas car with a large tank might only have to make 1 to drive 500 miles.

The time from car off to electricity/gas flowing is less in the Tesla at a Supercharger location. At the local Shell station, it takes 5-6 minutes just to get the gas pumping due to all of the questions it asks me (rewards card #, alt ID phone number, debit or credit, zip code, would you like a car wash today, etc.)!

However, time is lost getting on and off the freeway if I have to make multiple stops.

craig.tesla | 9 maj 2013

Why swap batteries, when you can swap whole cars, pony express-style.

eeyago | 9 maj 2013

Anyone have an idea as to when he plans on making this announcement?

Darkwax | 9 maj 2013

Yeah, I'm thinking the announcement will involve some funny math.

Pulse | 9 maj 2013

I believe its about topping off your battery using a Supercharger at 120KW/H. 15 minutes for an additional 150 Mile range. Hopefully sooner than later. Yet to see any signs of Superchargers being available in the Northwest. Exciting though.

Mark K | 9 maj 2013

I think this is the time for the "Step Change in Superchargers", which seems worthy of the no. 5 finale slot.

If the charge rate goes up to 3 or 4C (from 1.2 C now), you get your refill in 10-15 min.

Since it's free, there's no transaction time, so for total in and out time, it's very competitive with gas.

Ultimately, once the peak current buffers (Supercharger batteries, supercap hybrids, etc.) are worked out, there is no reason to look at electric refill as slower than gas. Gasoline moves at gallons per minute. Electrons move at the speed of light. Long term, EV's will fill faster than gas.

This improvement to the suoercharger is a big deal because it changes consumer attitudes about electricity vs.gas.

Some things actually merit their hype.

drripps | 9 maj 2013

I think when he tweeted "worldwide" it made me think this battery swapping idea isn't what he has in mind. The infrastructure necessary for that to become a reality is quite extensive.

Joshua Burstyn | 9 maj 2013

@Mark C:

"If the charge rate goes up to 3 or 4C (from 1.2 C now), you get your refill in 10-15 min."

Ouch. I thought we weren't supposed to charge at even 1C to stave off battery degradation?

Joshua Burstyn | 9 maj 2013

Bollocks; sorry Mark. I meant to write '@ Mark K'...
Edit function, FTW...

olanmills | 9 maj 2013

If the solution is battery swapping (though I don't think it is), imagine if there was a deterministic way to assign your battery a dollar value based on it's age, usage, etc. Then you could be given a sort of Tesla "debit" card. If you swap your battery for a less valuable battery, you get a credit onto your card. If you swap out for a more valuable battery, you have to pay for it (first use any balance on your card), and maybe annually or something, you can turn any credit you have into cash. Also, perhaps Tesla could preload the card with a certain amount of credit.

With this system, they could also create a big supply of Tesla owned batteries that are used for swapping, and maybe your original battery is just held at the station and not given to anyone else, so that you can always go retrieve your original battery if you wish, and maybe at least they are guaranteed to hold it for a certain time period, like a year, before they release it to others. However, you're not under any obligation to go pick it up, but you are subject to the credit or debit for swapping it back.

That does seem a bit complicated though, lol.

Another solution is too simply have Model S loaners available to owners that can only be used for long trips. They could be free or maybe very low rental cost. So for example, you drive your own Model S 200-300 miles to a Tesla owners-only rental station. You leave your car with them, take their loaner to your destination, and then you pick up your car on the way home.

That seems like it would be expensive for Tesla to operate though, and it wouldn't be good if people abused it for routine trips (or else they would have to control usage by adding high usage fees).

SamO | 9 maj 2013

I'm with above. A step change to 120kWh would speak to the LONG-DISTANCE trip times.

1. Almost nobody drives 265 miles in a row and stops for 3 minutes.

2. Actual stop times for long-distance travelers include bathroom, snacks/food and fuel.

3. In retrospect, people misjudge the amount of time they spend during this trip. They also forget that they don't roll into the gas station on fumes. Most people refuel with between 1/8 & 1/4 tank in reserve.

4. The actual time spent is 20-30 minutes. Actual time to fill tank varies from 4-9 minutes.

5. With 120kWh charge, you will be able to put 50-60kWh into the battery in 30 minutes.

Thus technically fill your "tank" faster than refuel your ICE.

I'm still holding out for ultra-capacitor or aluminum backup.

CaliSun | 9 maj 2013

Maybe the tank of gas is the main tank at the station, not the car. ;)

Bob W | 9 maj 2013

@Mark K wrote: "If the charge rate goes up to 3 or 4C (from 1.2 C now), you get your refill in 10-15 min."

What's "C", the speed of light? Please explain.

kilimats | 9 maj 2013

@ olanmills

that loaner idea of yours, NO WAY !

i recall musk saying the charging speed was software limited to ensure reliability, maybe they confirm reliability at higher speed now :)

JoeFee | 9 maj 2013

@jperaptor | MAY 9, 2013 NEW
"Battery swap id definitely the only way to charge a 85KWH battery faster then filling up with gas.”

I think that swapping will be a possibility but when I fill my ICE car at COSCO it takes 10=15 minutes in line and 7 min to pump the gas…. 22 min doable with next generation SC.

Oliver in Seattle | 9 maj 2013

Are they going to put glass wash (squeegie and clean water) at these next generation superchargers? My windshield is pretty dirty!

David15 | 9 maj 2013

It may have something to do with those dual battery patents That Tesla has applied for and which was discussed a couple of weeks ago.

agiangone | 9 maj 2013

@Bob W

C stands for Capacity. Say the amperage of the battery is 10 Ampère recharging at 1C means 10 Ampère, 2C 20 Ampère and so on.
Typically, battery manufacturers specify C ratings for Charging and Discharging (with discharging being usually much higher).

shop | 9 maj 2013

@Bob - For battery charging, a 1C charge rate means you are charging the battery fully in one hour. Our battery packs are 85 kWh batteries, and thus a 90 kW supercharger would charge it in one hour give or take (if you charged it linearly, which you don't actually, but let's ignore that for now). A 2C charge rate would imply supplying 180 kW of electricity into the battery for 30 minutes. 3C would be 270 kW of electricty for 20 minutes. There are many different types of battery chemistry and specifically many different types of Lithium Ion battery chemistry - each type of battery can be charged at different rates without any (or very little) degradation. Only Tesla and their battery manufacturer really know how far you can push their particular battery, and no doubt Tesla has been doing real world tests for the past several years to really know.

It is thought that Tesla's current 1C charge rate with the supercharger is conservative and there have been rumors that Tesla has gathered enough real world testing results to feel confident about boosting supercharger charge rates past 1C.

ChasF | 9 maj 2013

To me, the only reasonable way to charge the battery in times comparable to or faster than filling up a gas tank, is thru the use of a supercap/battery hybrid (as mentioned by Mark K above). The supercap could be charged in seconds and then slowly (relatively...1.5C to 2C) discharge into the battery pack as you drive. This would give you the ability to effectively get a full charge in less than 30 seconds. Not to mention that Elon has already commented on the possible use of supercaps in future designs.

negarholger | 9 maj 2013

I would follow my old physics books, there might be some out of the box thinking. Other battery types have been fast charged by reversing the current shortly. For Li-ion it might be another trick. I have been around engineering long enough that I would never discount anything - I've been surprised too many times. Sure to go from 30 min to 3 min the average current has to go from 200 A to 2000 A... maybe the cables are already in the car to do that ( TM does not tell us everything upfront ). One advantage TM has with it's own connector it is not held back by standards. Also I wouldn't be surprised if they come up with some advanced motor control e.g. from 340 W/m down to let's say 280 W/m so that would push the EPA from 265 m to 320 m. Let's be surprised. Elon is already tweeting to build up the interest for the SC announcement. Super Charger --> Ultra Charger --> Hyper Charger... who knows. What a fun ride.

negarholger | 9 maj 2013

correction : I would NOT follow my old physics books,

zero mpg | 9 maj 2013

S has 2 charge ports, one left and one right, it has dual chargers, connect both and viola half the chargetime ... up the flow a bit and watch the shorts go long as quickly as possible