Tesla Battery Swap Station Announced? (Probably Not)

OCT 16 2014 BY TDILLARD 13

In sort of a cryptic comment at the end of a long summary of the Tesla Hawthorne, CA unveiling Oct 9, this story on Automotive News stated, and we quote:

“And in an update on Tesla’s long-promised battery-swap program, he said that Tesla plans to open its first station, between Los Angeles and San Francisco, within the next two months.”

Curiously, however, there’s was no other record or report of this comment until SlashGear drummed up this highly questionable article that opens:

“Tesla will open its first battery-swap station within the next few months, the electric car company has confirmed to SlashGear.”

Who at “the electric car company” confirmed this?

That SlashGear article then spawned an overload of rewrites claiming Tesla had confirmed the first battery swapping station, but those articles unknowingly trace their roots back to the Automotive News’ statement that references Musk.  There’s just one little problem…there’s no record of Musk ever making that statement.  So, it all seems a bit, well…fanciful.

We’re a bit divided on the subject of Tesla’s battery swap idea here at InsideEVs, an even split between those who think it’s a brilliant idea and those who are wrong think it’s just stupid.  However, we’ve been following it closely since the very first announcement.  We even thought it was official.

The last interesting report on the project was from The Motley Fool, (What Happened to Tesla Motors, Inc.’s Battery Swapping?) granted, from a reporter who holds Tesla stock explaining his theories about why it’s been delayed and why we (as investors) shouldn’t worry (thus bolstering the value of his stock, presumably).  So we really wanted to hear this from the horse’s mouth.  Which we didn’t.

Going back to the full video released by Tesla of the Oct 9th presentation at the Hawthorne CA robotically-enhanced airplane hangar where the audience was prepped for their test drives (which we were not invited to…  ahem…)  we tried to listen for those special words:  “…plan to open battery swap stations…“.  It didn’t happen.  Listen for yourselves:

If you haven’t been paying attention and have no idea what-all we’re on about, here’s the video that started it all, showing a “recharge-off” between gassing up an Audi and swapping out a Tesla battery:

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13 Comments on "Tesla Battery Swap Station Announced? (Probably Not)"

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If there’s something we should have learned from the past decade’s EV enterpreneurships, is that a revolutionary solution should start from a core sub-region of the market where it can grow despite the overall hostile conditions in the broader market.

As a case in point, the concept of high-performance high-cost 200-mile BEVs, has grown well in the luxury-sports niche, as Tesla has demonstrated.

Likewise, battery-swapping will grow best in its appropriate niche, which is scrappy, multiple-short-to-medium-trip business such as taxis or short deliveries. This is how they’re doing it in Slovakia (at least according to a previous insideevs story).

Tesla now has the muscle to set up a few swap stations and lose money on them – but I don’t see even the LA-SF route as paying for the construction cost any time soon, if it’s only ordinary passenger cars using the service.

“Paying for the for the construction cost” Huh? You mean like the Superchargers are paying for their cost? This is missing the point of the stations. They charge for swapping would just be to offset the much higher cap cost for this vs Supercharging but the idea is to add value and utility to the cars. They profit from the cars. The SC’s and swaps are expense items. From an application perspective, I think even Tesla is missing the boat to this point. They are only talking about convenience while they are pouring billions into a Gigafactory to try to get battery costs down enough to offer a 200+ range EVs for $35K. Even with huge cost reductions it will be hard to do and offer a quality car in line with what Tesla has been offering. If they came of their stance that every BEV needs 200 mile minimum, they would much more likely be able to offer a 140ish mile high quality car for their price target. With swapping between cities, this could be a no compromise solution. The problem is it is likely as short term preferable solution as battery costs will come down to where they… Read more »

wtf where the payment time?? fro faster charging? ior is it doen automatically

omg watch the video

..and learn to read/type.

Does anyone know whether a battery swap will require you to pay $50-70 (estimated) once or twice. In other words, when you return on a round trip to swap in your battery which you previously swapped out, do you have to pay $50-$70 again?

If you have to pay only once than it is a good deal, since you pay $50-$70 and save up to 2 hours of time Supercharging to a full charge (1 hour each way). You get a fully-charged battery on your way to your destination, and then you get your battery back fully-charged on the return leg of your trip.

Am I correct in assuming that the batteries will be 100% fully charged and not 80% charged?

I’m pretty sure it’s a one-time fee for the “new” temporary pack. When you return, you’re getting your own pack back. Yeah, it will be fully-charged too, but that would have been free at a Supercharger anyway.

Then battery swapping is a real time saver since avoid two Supercharging sessions, especially if you need a full 100% charge to make it to your destination and back to the Supercharger. Battery swapping would be a good option for people who just want to get somewhere as fast as possible, are pressed for time, or are running late.

I’d love to have a battery swapping option when I’m driving to/form NYC and Vermont for a ski trip (250-300 miles each way). Getting to the resort before the ski lift opens, and getting back home as soon as possible after the lifts close would be a high priority for me. Plus, I don’t really want to stretch my legs at a Supercharger station for 30-40 minutes in brutally frigid cold weather or during a raging snowstorm.

Is just one time payment

I fully expect the swap to cost $100, not $50-70 that you claim. If you listen to Musk during the presentation, he very clearly says that it will cost about the same as a tank of gas. Not-so-coincidentally, they show the cost of the tank of gas for the Audi they are “racing” against. It is $100.

Unless you have some new information I am not aware of?

No new info, just my estimate of the cost of a tank of gas (15 to 20 gallons 2 $3.50 per gallon). I missed the reference to the Audi & $100 in the presentation.

“So we really wanted to hear this from the horse’s mouth.”
I swear I saw a video where Elon said they were going to open up that swapping station. It was during a Q&A with the audience.

Now I need to start searching the interwebs.

The video reminded of a graphic I made at that time. Swapping could be completed in 90 seconds.