Tesla Battery Swap Location Shut Down For Now



Tesla test car at the Harris Ranch Battery Swap Station

Tesla test car at the Harris Ranch Battery Swap Station

About three years ago, Tesla proved that it could swap out a Model S battery pack and replace it with another, as an alternative to charging. Not only did this seem like a viable alternative to Supercharging, but it was actually faster. To think that the process could be done in about seven minutes is staggering.

Harris Ranch Battery Swapping Location

Harris Ranch Battery Swapping Station (Not Your Typical Tesla Façade)

The company only opened one swapping location, and it was seen as a pilot program. Talk of the process fizzled out and focus on Supercharger network expansion has taken an expected front seat. It is still interesting to revisit the possibility and wonder why it can’t be workable.

A Tesla owner (aptly with the handle TeslaOwner) addressed the issue and posted some interesting information in the form of a blog.

TeslaOwner, who had been following the California-based swapping station reported that it is now officially closed … “for now”.  Previously TeslaOwner had used the station before and explained that the process was automated, but controlled by humans; and there was some concerned at the time that the battery being installed may have more mileage on it than the one being exchanged, and that the hardware/software did not recognize it in his car as a different battery, thus interfering with trip totals or rather the ongoing miles logged on the original battery, etc.

When recently inquiring about the stations availability for a swap TeslaOwner was told:

“Presently the Battery Swap Program is not accepting any new requests for appointments.”

Only the one location in California was ever utilized, and the company has since determined that there was little demand. However, had there been more locations (and perhaps a more appealing location that wasn’t quite the eyesore), more information about the service and process (including the battery mileage situation and other similar concerns), or the possibility of setting such a service up for fleets or employees, maybe it could have become viable.

However more than all this, in the end it seems as though the alteration of the way additional CARB ZEV credits were accumulated for the ability to “fast charge” via the swap, was the ultimate downfall of the program.

Elon Musk and company are obviously extremely busy these days, with Supercharger network expansion, ramping up production, readying the Gigafactory, the SolarCity merger, Musk’s SpaceX announcements and the explosion, fully self-driving tech in all vehicles, the Tesla Network, Model 3 overwhelmingly looming … and on and on. But perhaps, in the future, the battery swapping concept will re-emerge with connection to commercial vehicles, or a self-driving fleet situation, or something related to the Tesla Network concept.

Source: Teslarati

Categories: Tesla


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27 Comments on "Tesla Battery Swap Location Shut Down For Now"

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It was still open?

Originally, Tesla could have received 2 extra ZEV credits per Tesla sold with the battery swap station online. But CARB changed the rules so that only documented swaps would count for extra credits.

After the ZEV fruits were plucked from the tree, Tesla quietly killed the swap station plans. Really didn’t make much sense anyways, when Supercharging was still free.

It has more to do with the armor plates that were added to the nose of the battery and plus the very idea of getting an “unknown” battery.

Armor did add a little bit of time, but not enough to really matter…

The unknown battery didn’t matter either because you’re suppose to swap it for your own one or Tesla will charge you…

Indeed. The suggested scenario was to use battery swapping only for long-distance travel, and to swap your own battery back in on the return trip. So at least in theory, there should never have been any long-term issue with using a different battery pack. Yeah, Tesla did say if you decided to keep the other pack then they would charge you for the difference, but obviously they were not encouraging that.

Again, the article makes it sound like there was an issue about something when there really wasn’t.

Too bad Tesla never offered a “Taxi” edition Model S. Strip it down, sell it cheaper. Battery swapping for a fleet would have made sense…

Like drivers never see a lull in fares.

I personally see taxi drivers taking naps in their cars at the taxi stand down the street from me. So long as humans are still driving cars (ha ha!), the machines will only have to keep up with the occupants.

You’re suggesting that “down time” while waiting on a fare could be used for charging the battery? That would only work if there were charging stations at most or all cab stands. Maybe someday…

I think TeslaOwner was the only customer.
Good for Him/Her!……lol

Battery swap would make more sense with a much larger market. I doubt it would be profitable to run such a station unless it was in use constantly. Supercharging just makes a lot more sense in 95% of cases.

It’s too bad they shut it down. I used the swap station four times and I was really hoping to be able to rent a 100 kWh battery for road trips at some point. I made an appointment to use it in June, but had to cancel because our plans changed so if it’s officially close now, it happened within the past few months.

I would imagine now that super charging isn’t free for new customers all the time swapping may be more appealing to future tesla owners depending on the price rice difference.

Yeah, that might be a factor. With free superchargers right next to it, swapping made no sense unless you really was in a hurry. Maybe with the charging economics changed it might help, but I suspect swapping would still be more expensive.

It made sense for long road trips as a relatively cheap way to limit wear and tear on your battery and to get a little extra battery capacity if you had lots of miles on your existing battery. The time savings wasn’t much of a benefit since when you make it to Harris Ranch, it’s probably time to stretch your legs and take a break from driving.

New headline:

Tesla Battery Swap location shut down, only customer angry.

There were at least four of us 🙂

Thanks for speaking up. Until you did, I thought nobody was using the swap station anymore.

When I saw this station open in the first place I knew it wasn’t going to have a lot of people going in and out of it. The reason why is I remember they had things like this in the 1900’s though the 1920’s that had electric taxis switching batteries at stations like this.

This entire article seems to be ignoring well established facts rather firmly.

1. The swap station was so little used that closing it is irrelevant and, despite this article, not really worthy of notice.

2. There’s no mystery about why battery swapping isn’t viable. It’s much too expensive to build the swap stations and stock them with battery packs that can’t be used for anything more useful. This is also why (Project) Better Place failed, and that was entirely predictable.

3. There is also no mystery of why Tesla built the one swap station, but then didn’t build more. Teska built the one to take advantage of CARB’s rules giving ZEV credits for enabling the potential of battery swapping; ZEV credits which Tesla could sell at a profit. But then CARB changed the rules so that a significant number of Tesla cars would actually have to use battery swapping before Tesla could earn the credits, and the cost/benefit analysis didn’t work for enabling that.

I find it puzzling that InsideEVs would give this coverage. It’s like someone wrote a blog post puzzling over the fact that we no longer drive steam-powered cars, while ignoring the low energy efficiency of steam engines.

From what wraithnot posted above, clearly my point #1 is an overstatement. The closure is arguably irrelevant to most Tesla customers, but not all of them.

1. “Little use” was official excuse, but owners note that swap station was in high demand and schedule was full during holidays, even if program was by invite only and required scheduling.
It is midway between Los Angeles and San Francisco after all. $40 one way is minor cost if you consider how much you need to earn per hour to afford ~$100k car, and it may save close to about an hour of your time.

Points #2 and #3 are more convincing.

The time savings at Harris Ranch wasn’t all that helpful since after the battery swap we parked the car and ate lunch. But saving 2,000 miles of wear and tear on my battery and saving 20 minutes charging at an RV park in Wilcox Arizona on each leg of the trip was well worth the $80 swap fee. My battery has lost about 10 miles of range while the loaner battery was almost new. I’d hope to be able to swap for a 100 kWh battery some day. But I imagine the superchargers along I10 will be completed before that happens.

If battery quick-swap design does not have to be included in the Model 3, or future Model S, they should be able to reduce some costs.

I didn’t realize this was still going… I thought I read an article over a year ago about it shutting down… but looking it up now, the article said it was “basically” dead.


If not for the quick refuel provision of the ZEV credit program, the battery swap station would have never existed in the first place.

Yes, all a red herring. The swap station was nothing more than an attempt by Tesla to influence CARB to continue their very generous “fast refueling” credits, when in fact, prior to this singular swap station, not a single owner Tesla ever had a battery swap.

CARB did revise the rule in 2014 as follows (and Tesla very quickly shut down battery swapping):

“Fast refueling” has been modified to require every car in the fleet to swap the battery once, or 4% of the fleet to have 25 maximum swaps, or some value inbetween. Fast Refueling is described as the “ability to refuel to 95% of full capacity within 15 minutes or less”.

Type V – 300+ miles range “hydrogen” – Credit per vehicle: 9 (2015-2017 only)

Type V – 300+ miles range “fast refueling” – Credit per vehicle: 7

Type IV – 200+ miles range “fast refueling” – Credit per vehicle: 5

Type III – 100+ miles range “fast refueling” – Credit per vehicle: 4

Type III – 200+ miles range ————– Credit per vehicle: 4

Type II – 100+ miles range ————— Credit per vehicle: 3

Type I.5 – 75-100 miles range ———– Credit per vehicle: 2.5

Type I – 50-75 miles range ————— Credit per vehicle: 2

Would selling the cars without the cost of the battery then leasing the battery like you sell electricity make the battery swap more economic, since the rates must be higher?