Musk Provides Details on Model S Battery Swapping; Says Infrastructure Will Cost Tesla Less Than $100 Million (w/video)

4 years ago by Eric Loveday 24

Musk Releases This Image on Twitter Ahead of Battery Swap Demo

Musk Releases This Image on Twitter Ahead of Battery Swap Demo

In an interview with Reuters, Tesla CEO Elon Musk revealed some additional details on battery swapping ahead of the automaker’s live demonstration scheduled for late tonight.

As we all know by now, Tesla will live demo the Model S battery swapping capabilities in California tonight.  That demo will show us exactly how Musk and Tesla intend to perform the thought-to-be impossible.

musk tweets

Musk Tweets About Tonight’s Event

But don’t think Better Place, says Musk.

This is Not the Right Mechanical Device, According to Musk

This is Not the Right Mechanical Device, According to Musk

Musk says Tesla will invest somewhere between $50 mill to $100 million to establish a nationwide network of swapping stations.  This network will be capable of swapping the Model S’ battery packs in less than five minutes.

Is This the Right Mechanical Device?

Is This the Right Mechanical Device?

Sort of sounds like Better Place, right?

No, says Musk.  Quoting Tesla’s CEO:

“[Better Place founder] Shai was very good at marketing but not so good at technology, so he didn’t quite get it right on the pack swap thing.  As long as you have the right mechanical device you can do a battery pack swap.”

So, Tesla has found the right mechanical device, it seems.  That device will first be installed in “high-traffic corridors between Los Angeles and San Francisco as well in the Washington-New York-Boston region,” says Reuters.

Larry Dominique, president of auto consulting firm ALG, says “The challenge is going to be infrastructure,” which it certainly will be.  That’s why we’re thinking Tesla will install the “swappers” at current Supercharger locations, where much of the infrastructure is already in place.

Check out the entire interview with Musk in the video below.  There’s more than just talk of battery swap, that’s for sure.

Source: Reuters

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24 responses to "Musk Provides Details on Model S Battery Swapping; Says Infrastructure Will Cost Tesla Less Than $100 Million (w/video)"

  1. Steven says:

    I wonder if current Model S’s will be supported, or will it be for the next iteration only? I guess we’ll find out, when we find out.

    1. Jay Cole says:

      All Model S sedans are supported. In fact Musk tweeted (go figure) out confirmation of that:

      “Battery pack swap works with all Tesla Model S cars, past and present. It was always there.”

      You can check out his tweet if you like here

  2. David Murray says:

    Sounds like the battery swap won’t be free to use like the superchargers.

  3. kdawg says:

    Doesn’t Elon have handlers? Someone should have fixed his collar.

    Good to hear he’s sticking w/Telsa ’til he gets out a blue-star vehicle, which should be in the next 5 years.

  4. kdawg says:

    Interesting quote “only a few hundred cover the entire country”.

  5. zilm says:

    I hope this swap nightmare will stop before huge financial looses

    1. Aaron says:

      Huh? And *losses.

      1. zilm says:

        ehh ok losses
        for smb never lived in english-speaking country, I’m permitted to do some mistakes 🙂
        Don’t like this swap model, it has not future, it’s pricey and it messing up customers

        1. Aaron says:

          My apologies — I did not realize you were not a native English speaker. You spell better than many US residents, I’m sad to say. 🙂

          We’ll have to get more specifics about the swap model to really make a judgement on it. I would have a difficult time believing that Elon would endorse a technology that isn’t the best in the world.

    2. David Murray says:

      I do not like the idea of battery swap either. However, since it is Elon Musk, I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt. I’ll wait and see.

      1. zilm says:

        Yeah I hope he will not bet a lot on it

  6. tonyspin says:

    I think Tesla will make money on this deal. Don’t want to wait on line for the Supercharger? We can swap your battery in 5 minutes for a fully charged one for price of $100, which is almost the same price as a tank of gas in an ICE car.

    1. tonyspin says:

      Better still, your battery will be waiting for you, fully charged when you return, for another $100, of course.

      1. Stuart22 says:

        Static thinking like that leads to boodoggles like this swapping fiasco. Return trips frequently use different routes, especially sightseeing and touring kinds of drives. And routes traveling salespeople take.

        Musk has been my hero, but he’s slipped.

        1. tonyspin says:

          Return trips more frequently use the same route. Not coming back the same way? There are other options. Use the Supercharger or even rent an ICE car for the trip. Having other options like a battery swap will get more folks to consider an EV. Static thinking is when it doesn’t work for you, you think it is a bad idea.

  7. Brian says:

    Well, I’m looking forward to the demo, but I’m still not sold on this idea. On the one hand, it’s a crap shoot every time you swap your battery. On the other hand, swapping batteries might be gentler than supercharging, since the depleted battery can now be “slow” charged back to full. Ultimately, I hope Tesla maintains the option for both.

    I do take some exception to Musk’s claim that you can cover the country with only a few hundred superchargers/swap stations. Looking at the 2015 map of superchargers, they show the whole country as “covered”. But what if I want to take a trip from Syracuse, NY to Lake Placid, NY and back? That’s 200 miles one way, with no superchargers. Sure, I can go from Syracuse to Albany to Plattsburgh to Lake Placid, and back, but that’s 350 miles one way. That pretty much doubles the trip. Long term, I hope they still plan on these chargers being more common than their idea of “covering the nation”.

  8. ClarksonCote says:

    Why is this needed if there’s a supercharger network? Why not just take the $100 million and install more super chargers?

    1. kdawg says:

      Speed. Elon wants to fill a “tank” faster than you can with a gas car. If he can do this, there is no longer a compromise to driving an EV.

      I believe the supercharger network will also expand for those that have 30 minutes to kill.

  9. Paul says:

    It seems like every comment I’ve ever read about battery swapping has been negative. I don’t understand that. Why is everyone against another option for “refueling” electric cars? If you don’t want to swap your battery, fine, but why is it so disappointing that Musk & Co. want to make this option available?

    1. zilm says:

      Economy learns that you have limited resources. All money spent on battery swapping are money didn’t spent on supercharger network or other company’s expenses. And when this money are not your own, but money of investors, any fault could cause company failure

    2. Brian says:

      Overall, I’m not personally against battery swapping as an option, either. I thought that was clear.

      There are several concerns I have with battery swapping.

      First, if I own the battery (and I would prefer to own rather than rent), I don’t want to trade mine for one of unknown condition. We know that the lifetime of batteries are heavily dependent on its usage history. Supercharging will be more harmful than charging at home at 120V. The number of miles on a battery and time in service also come into play. And there’s always temperature. Sure Tesla has TMS, but a battery that has spent two years in Phoenix will still have less capacity than one in Syracuse, NY. Thanks to the ability to travel coast-to-coast, it’s not out of the question for a Phoenix battery to migrate to Syracuse.

      Another concern are logistical. Here in the northeast, the roads get nasty with salt and grime during the winter. It’s not insurmountable, but Tesla better take that into consideration.

      Zilm also makes a valid point. Every dollar Tesla spends on swapping is a dollar they cannot spend on the supercharger network.

      There are more that others have pointed out if you care to go back and read them….

  10. Darius says:

    How about battery waranty?

    Better Place never sold batteries to EV owners. On contrary Tesla owners own their batteries. So when swaping ‘Tesla swaping Ltd’ has to purchase old battery and sell installed one? At what price? Batteries will have different age and spread of depretiaton. May be Musk knows something I do not know?

  11. It would be interesting if the “battery swap” was of a light range-extending primary battery like the 50 lb Phinergy instead of 600 lb lithium ion built into the bottom of chassis.

  12. Electric Ray says:

    I still don’t get the negativity towards battery swapping. I truly believe it will be the ultimate strategy in another 20+ years, so why not start the technology now? As with cell phones, batteries that were bricks are now tiny wafers. I know the analogy is weak, but there is bound to be leaps in battery technology that will bring the “energy pack” down to the size of a suitcase that could be easily standardized and swappable. Think 9-volt battery for design.

    Swapping standardized, suitcase-sized energy packs at former gas stations (yay!) eliminates the need for public chargers completely. Just pull in and ask the robot for a 200 mile premium pack for, say, $20. Or get the super 300 mile pack for $30. All the packs are charged off peak (by wind power?), and must meet performance thresholds before being swapped.

    It is true that not “owning” your pack is scary to some, but this guarantees access to the latest technology, as new, more efficiency packs would be continually phased in as older ones are phased out. I suggest our government (settle down) use a tiny portion of the $800 billion (yep!) that goes to overseas oil sellers to subsidize at least the first set of energy packs and let the fun begin. Think how much cheaper EVs would be if we shift their battery costs to Uncle Sam. The ROI would be fantastic.

    Just try to envision the paradigm shift, reduction of gasoline production, millions of tankers (oil on the seas and gasoline ones driving millions of miles on our roads), and all the other benefits. The reality that as technology improves, there will be much less need to swap the batteries than to fill your tank with gas, as EV drivers can always start their day with a “full tank.”

    I always thought that if we all had gasoline pumps in our garages, we would rarely have to stop at gas stations to fill up, as opposed to once a week or so. The same would be true of the swapping stations, much fewer needed than gas stations. Especially as 4, 5, or 600 mile energy packs are developed, using lithium crystals, beryllium spheres or unobatinium technology.

    It is really time to let go of the 20th century and look forward. Do you really think we will still have gas stations in the year 2525? I never see them in the Jetsons or Futurama reruns.