Musk Discusses When Tesla Will Demonstrate How Model S Charges Quicker Than Filling a Tank Full of Gas


tesla charge

During the Tesla Motors annual shareholders meeting, a stockholder named Kevin Weng asked a question about the superchargers capability.

Kevin asked Elon Musk the following:

Follow the statement here at the 40 minute mark.

Kevin Weng:  Recently you tweeted that it takes less time to take a full charge with a Model S than filling a full tank of gas.

Elon Musk: That’s right.

Kevin Weng: So is the recent announcement that it is a 20 min charge is that it?

Elon Musk: That is not it.

Kevin Weng: Or is it even more is that it?

Elon Musk: That is not it.

Kevin Weng: Cool

Elon Musk: I mentioned there will be an announcement on June 20th.  In fact, not an announcement but a demonstration.

Kevin Weng: Wow OK

Elon Musk: A live demonstration.

Not to say that the ever decreasing charge time is not critical to the success of the electric vehicle, but Elon Musk understands how to make it stick in the minds of those challenging the EV. Once this line is crossed, there is no turning back.

Like the Tweet, this article needs little more than what is left to the imagination. Theatric? You bet! I for one have marked June 20th and will be watching.

June 20th:  On your mark! Get set! GOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!

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56 Comments on "Musk Discusses When Tesla Will Demonstrate How Model S Charges Quicker Than Filling a Tank Full of Gas"

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But what is this demo? Leading candidates are:
– Battery swapping
– Metal air battery

I personally hope its the battery, but seems unlikely that other manufacturers wouldn’t have noticed it too. Battery swapping seems like lots of work, requires lots of infrastructure, not very exciting technologically speaking.

Clearly Musk has invented a time machine as part of his space-exploration side business. It will look like a Model-X, hence the gull-wing doors. It simply transports Tesla owners forward in time to the end of their charging cycle. IMHO, that seems more likely than battery swapping. 😉

It sounds like a better battery, but I don’t see how such technology could be completely unknown yet reach prototype-demo status. Also, he would need a 1.21 Gigawatt flux capacitor to charge it that fast!

If this instant charge claim is a fact, then Tesla has conquered the last major obstacle to electric autos…range anxiety.

Now you can drive across the USA in an electric car in the same time as a gas car.

I am sure charging stations will pop up everywhere almost overnight. We shall see.

If it is a battery swap, then it is doomed to a troublesome existence and low customer acceptance.

It is going to be battery swapping. I am 99.9% certain of it at this point. It was designed into the Model S and never been demonstrated.

The interesting thing is how they will implement it to convince everyone that it is a compelling solution.

Very doubtful it will be battery swapping. It is not a good solution and not Elon’s style.

Battery swapping is most likely not it. It takes man power or serious robotics to swap the battery, plus the battery in the Model S is part of the frame, so not easily done. Certainly not done in minutes.

Even at a 20-30 minute charge while driving cross country, stretching your legs and enjoying a good cup of coffee is just fine!

I’m with you. I think that 120kW is pretty much the sweet spot. You plug in the car, and walk away. Go hit the restroom and grab a coffee, come back, unplug and off you go.

Say, maybe that’s the demonstration? The poor ICE driver has to stand with his car while it fills, and only when it’s done can he go inside the rest area.

He may also count the time a person has to pay for their gas, where the superchargers are free for Teslas.

If we assume “faster than a tank of gas” time is about 5-6 minutes (go in to the store, pay for gas, return to car, pump, done), I cant think of how they’re doing it other than battery swapping. And battery swapping is a dead idea. So I’m genuinely curious as to how they’re planning on doing this. 😉

To charge 85kWh in 5 minutes requires 1MW of DC power – not feasible, even if you could top of the last 20% at full power (which would damage the battery).

A new algorithm to charge batteries faster (like–nsc100312.php) could cut the time needed for a full 85kWh charge from 60 minutes to 50 minutes (it would speed up the last 20-30% of charge, the first 70-80% is probably running full throttle most of the time). But that’s still an order of magnitude off from 5 minutes.

Well, one can be pretty sure that Elon will exaggerate the amount of time it takes to fuel up a gas/diesel car and along with how quickly his tech will charge the car…

I’m not sure that 120 kW is the sweet spot as others have suggested, but it’s going to take higher voltage battery packs to go significantly faster – trying to shove more than 200A down a small set of wires will only get you so far before cable sizes are unwieldy.

I agree, I’ve done the math backwards and I think its 200kW for the sweet spot on fast DC charging. 100kWh in 30 minutes (assuming the battery can take it). We’ll see what happens.

I hope, hope, hope, hope it is not battery swapping. I would really like that idea to just die and be gone. I’m tired of hearing about it.

However – it may be some combination of this idea. For example, you drive to a tesla dealer and swap out your battery pack with something else for a long trip. Something that fits the same shape and electrical connections as the factory battery. Perhaps the metal-air battery as David mentioned above. Maybe some sort of engine or fuel cell?

Engine? No, not from Tesla. Fuel cell? no way. Not at this stage in the game.

The idea of a second battery that fits into the frunk is interesting, but I’m guessing he’ll spin it based on the fact that you have to stand by your car while pumping gas, but with an electric, you plug in and walk away. (see also my comment above)

Elon is amazing. He anounces free cross country trips forever on his cars. And that’s still not enough of an amazing feat.

Saving 30 dollars every three hours of highway driving seems a good enough reason to wait 20 extra minutes at a supercharger. Maybe he is taking the time to earn 30 bucks into account?

Anyone remembers how Model S costs just $500 a month to own ?

No – he won’t use the 5 minute mark for refueling a car.

BTW, I see cars lined up at local Costco to get gas for 10 cents a gallon less 30 minutes or even more. Heck, even I used to do it.

15 minute charge, he’s going to probably show someone filling up, going in to pay, getting a snack etc….


Battery swapping is not “recharging” a battery.

It’s Ultra-capacitor time—he mentioned it a few days ago, he said charging the car, not the battery. As you know they charge very quickly. Thats my guess. Comments?

Interesting. But that probably gives only 2 miles of range.

I have a flashlight that runs on only a capaciitor, charges fully in 90 seconds to full, runs for 1.5 hrs. This of course doesn’t relate to run times on a car, but they may have a combo situation where the battery sips off the capacitor after it receives a full charge. Sould be interesting on the 20th!!!

Capacity density of supercaps is rather low (unless you believe in EEstor).

BTW, Musk has referred to this as “right under your nose” … whatever that means. On TMC there is a long running thread speculating what this might mean.

Dual port charging?

Wireless? Im clueless!

Or car-swap


By the time I fend off the people on bath salts, use the bathroom, and stand behind 14 people buying lottery tickets, that adds up to about 20 minutes, maybe more:)

Lottery tickets & “smokes”… which usually takes a 5 minute discussion between the kid behind the counter and the customer on which is the correct “smokes”.

Lol. I can see it now … Elon sipping his coffee and reading the NYTimes as his Model S charges while his split screen gas-filler is fumbling with credit cards, spilling gasoline on his pants, and then listening to lottery ticket addicts reciting endless numbers to the cashier – we’ve all been there! The gas-filler returns to his car cursing and full of road rage while Elon simply unplugs and goes in peaceful bliss. I think it’s beautiful marketing even if it’s not (or maybe BECAUSE it isn’t) 100% realistic.

Well, I’ve heard about new ways to charge faster without changing the batteries chemistry in theory. Latest project (that failed raising money – imo because of bad advertising and no real demonstration) regarding that was can be seen here:

But even if there is a way to charge very fast, the amount of energy needed will stay the same or be a little more. So you need to have a system that can give you one megawatt/h to fill a 85kwh battery in 5 minutes. Ad one more megawatt-system for every additional car you want to charge at the same time. Sounds very unlikely to me… but with Elon… anything goes.

The reasonable part of my brain still says battery swapping.

Sometimes it is funny how things go. A few months back on the same topic I mentioned that to fill up a car at the same speed as filling gas, it would take 3 MW of power and that it would require both higher voltage to reduce the amperage but that it would still be high and require an under the car large contact system to make it possible. We have all seen the electric bus systems above the roof charging at high power; well it would be the same but under the car. On the power level it can be 3 MW or perhaps 1 MW although just the fill up of gas is faster than 5 minutes. It is possible that they present a Model S equipped with an under the car hypercharger at 1 MW in a vehicle that would have one of a kind directly from the lab very special fast charge 18650 cells. The battery would also have commutable higher voltage serial arrangement to be able to handle a much higher voltage in the thousands rather than in the hundreds. In a standard combustion car, sparks use voltages as high as 35000 V, so there… Read more »

“Hypercharger”.. (trademark)


If we are tossing in off-the-wall ideas, how about LENR (low-energy nuclear reaction or “cold fusion”) bundled in with a turbine/generator to periodically recharge the battery while the car is moving. This controversial and under-funded field has been heating up lately (pardon the pun) – google E-Cat to see what I mean. Tesla may have gotten hold of a unit or 3, found that it really DID work (and that would truly be a miracle) and hacked it into a proof of concept demo for the Model S.

The fuel for LENR is small quantities of nickel and hydrogen, two of the most common elements on the planet. The total power output is 350,000 times that of the equivalent volume of petroleum (imagine a teaspoon of nickel powder generating 10kW continuously for 6 months), and there is zero radiation or pollution. A live demo of THAT pretty impressive “range-extender” would have a tectonic impact on everything we know.

Neither his tweet nor his comments at the shareholders meeting preclude this option – if you don’t have to stop while recharging then that is definitely faster than refueling at the pump, just saying…..

Radiation free fusion is indeed a fantastic prospect. Boron 5 fussed with an hydrogen proton is supposed to give 3 Helium atoms and zero radiation, but there is not yet an actual reactor, even in a lab. So we are still waiting for that. True, it should get more attention and funds since the result would be fantastic, non-radiative nuclear energy.

LENR has nothing to do with LDVs. For drivertrain would be needed reactor, steam turbine or steam engine, electric generator, motor and battery as well. How do you imagine squizing into the cpmpact car or SUV all this and at what cost? Lets better dreem about fuel cells.

LENR primery application could be NAVY or commercial shiping. It is nice someone believes in LENR 24 year after. Who knows. World full of suprises.

I forgot to mention that the nickel “transmutes” into copper.

And the transcript of Kevin Weng’s exchange with Elon missed out Elon’s final comment “it could go wrong” – implying that the demo is hacked and not yet mainstream.

I’m thinking some sort of battery or fuel cell rental, something that fits in the trunk and gives you 500 miles or so before having to be replaced. Not practical for everyday driving obviously but perfect for the occasional long trip. My guess it it won’t be available on the S but perhaps teasing a new feature of the X.

There is still the flow cell stuff, where a charged liquid is transferred into a tank and a discharged liquid is taken from another one. By definition, a fill up would take the same time as a gas fill up, but you would actually charge the equivalent of electricity.

I am waiting the battery technology to move in the direction of ‘flow cell’ as mentioned by Priusmaniac. Noone else pridicted it but i feel it has higher chace of success.

Here is my prediction. Forget entirely about battery swapping. In the near future battery storage will be become ever increasing as the price drops dramatically on both new and second deployment batteries. Batteries including the current SCIB battery in the Fit EV and the next gen batteries that Tesla will use, are greatly reducing their internal resistance so they are are able to charge much much faster than even the current 120 supercharging from Tesla. Elon will demonstate a Model S or Model X car fitted with the new batt cells that can recharge fully in less than 10 minutes. The barrier has always been how to get that much juice into a car. Elon will use a combination of supercharging, battery storage and perhaps ultra capacitors to deliver the “higher octane” juice to the car. Look for this tech to be in the Model X and the Model S refresh in a year or so. But here is the real kicker and where the time gets slashed. The future mass model Tesla Bluestar, the 200 mile 35k BMW 3 series fighter, will have a battery pack just about half the size of the 85kw in the Model S. This… Read more »

I don’t remember where I read it, (it was probably on this site) but it involved Tesla filing for a patent to have 2 different batteries in tandem. One battery would be the standard one used for everyday driving. The other would be a “range extender” battery of a different chemistry, presumably something that can withstand high/fast rate re-charging. Maybe this is the thing to be demonstrated? Does anyone recall what I’m talking about?

That’s exactly what I was talking about earlier. Something you can swap out quickly, something you can rent (or if consumed, buy) that will give you a LOT of range very quickly.

First we have to nail down the time for a gas fill-up. As many have suggested there is more time spent than just filling. Maybe there are statistics out there to arrive at average time, including waiting for a pump to be free. I think that last would be dis-ingenious because you could also have to wait for a supercharger. He also did not state that it was an 85kwhr model, obviously it would take less time to fill a 60kwhr battery. So assumption 1. “Fill up time” as is defined by CARB for their best catagory as 10 minutes. 2. “Fill up” of a 85kwhr battery would be to 80%, i.e. 68kwhr. 3. Battery voltage is 500 volts. This would require a 408kwhr rate or 816 amps at 500 volts. If done by cables, this would require some serious sized cables. There are flexible high amperage cables designed for diesel-electric trains about 1″ diameter rated for 1000 amps. Two of these cables would be required. This would be too heavy and awkward to be handled by one person in a typical plug-in fashion. That leaves us with some sort of robot manipulated plug, or induction charging through large inductor… Read more »

I think you came up with almost what I said but you came up with it earlier. Well done.

The problem with Tesla’s high power ideas is that they always seem to push stuff way too hot and I’m frankly surprised some of the stuff can get a UL listing..

A friend has gone through 3 Universal Mobile Connectors on his roadster because he says they keep burning out.

Now the HPC with the model “s”, Tesla tells him to scale it back to 60 amps so that it doesn’t overheat.

Not sure if they will have any 120 kw heating problems, but in view of Tesla’s track record, it wouldn’t surprise me at all.

Let’s try some math on this. Assumptions: =========== Filling an average tank is a 10 minute to 15 minute exercise. You’ll get appx. 300miles of range in the typical sedan/personal car. Lithium cells can be charged at a rate of up to 3 times their rated KWH capability. This is a 3C rate. The typical EV is getting appx. 3.75 to 4miles per KWH delivered. A Tesla S has a 85KWH battery. Math: =========== Converting 300 miles /15 minutes = 20 miles of range per minute in a gas refuel session. 30 miles/minute if you say 10 minutes. To match this we’d need 30/miles/minute at 4miles/kwh = 7.5KWH/minute 20miles/minute at 4 miles/kwh = 5 KWH/minute Converting to C rate we see 7.5KWH * 60 / 85KWH in car = 5.29 C 5KWH * 60/85KWH = 3.52 C Conclusion Inferred: ================ So…. If the Supercharger station & Model S charger could be set to deliver at 300KW vs the current 120KW you’d be in a matching position to a typical gasoline stop. This could be achieved pretty easily by doubling the charging voltage going from the charger to the vehicle leaving the current level the same but delivering twice the energy… Read more »

What do you think of my idea?

Hello from Cairo Egypt,

Now let us suppose that using one charging cable connected to the Model S will charge it with 150 miles worth of electricity in 20 or 22 minutes as Elon said. So logically it is possible to plug the Model S with 2 charging cables at the same time and treat the battery pack as if it is two smaller battery packs and charge each small pack with 150 miles worth of electricity. This way we will half the time of 22 minutes to 11.

Now let us do that again and use 4 cables, this will half the 11 minutes to 5 and a half minutes!

What I think could be a more practical procedure is to use inductive charging. So a small thing under the car (under your nose) can have a few charging cables to make a Model S charge fully if diminished correctly in less than the average time to fill a gas tank.

And since there are 4 or more ports in most Super Charging station, then it is possible to use the above trick provided that you logically split the battery pack of the Model S into logically smaller battery packs.



Old Industry Saying: “Don’t bet against Elon Musk”

Tesla Motors has said numerous times that the Model S was designed to allow battery swapping in 5 minutes. Those who say it’s not practical, for one reason or another, are apparently unaware of that fact.

Of course I don’t know if the demo will be battery swapping, but certainly a 5 minute swap would be less time than filling your gas tank and then– as others have said– standing in line to pay behind someone buying lottery tickets.

And the reason Better Place’s for-profit battery swap business failed was entirely due to economic reasons, not technical/engineering ones. Their battery swap stations functioned just fine.

If Tesla Motors sets up a battery swap network, it won’t be for profit. Like the existing SuperCharger system, it will a “perk” exclusively for those who have already bought a Tesla Motors car. Better Place had to build an extremely expensive nationwide (in Israel) system of battery swap stations before they could make a credible attempt to sell cars to anyone. Tesla Motors does not. It’s an entirely different business model. Unlike Better Place, a SuperCharger battery swap system would not be inevitably doomed to failure.

Hello, please update my last name to ‘Weng’, not ‘Wang’. Thank you for the article and transcript! 🙂

Kevin Weng

Thanks for the correction Kevin…All fixed now!!!