Tesla Model S Battery Swap Info & Video




KmanAuto just completed a cross-country road trip.

While on that road trip, Kman went to check out Tesla’s struggling battery swap station.

In the video above, Kman provides us a lot of info on this battery swap station before showing some action shots of it. (8:05 minute mark.)

We never expected Tesla’s battery swap to take off right away, but hopefully there will be rising demand for this over time.  It’s handy and provides Model S owners with one more option to get back on the road fully charged as quickly as possible.  Maybe someday these will catch on and spread to other areas?  Or…maybe not.

Time to check out the video to see battery swapping in action!

Categories: Tesla, Videos

Tags: , , , ,

Leave a Reply

27 Comments on "Tesla Model S Battery Swap Info & Video"

newest oldest most voted

They could be quite valued in places like China…


A friend once mentioned battery swapping and thought that would be great. The analogy I came up with is there are hundreds of thousands of places you can get your tires swapped and it’s never easy, convenient or fun. There may be certain places where this would work, but I don’t see it going mainstream.

Londo Bell

Actually , incorrect analogy I would say, regarding tire swapping places. You see, afaik, none of those places do JUST tire swapping. Most will do oil changes, tune up, brake work, etc. In fact, tire swapping is of the lowest priority of all, meaning, super long wait time 🙁

A better one may be just the oil change places that do just the oil change, or emission control/state cert places that are tests only. In either of those cases, the process is usually swift (hence, one often see 9 min oil change places). Unfortunately, this actually counters your point.


Musk never wanted them to succeed, Longer ranged batteries will eliminate the need.


It is not longer range, but faster chargeable batteries, that will kill off battery swaps. The amount of stored batteries and the power to recharge the used ones could be used much more effectively in charging a battery faster. And if those engineers working at Tesla, are as intelligent as they have proven so far, they have come to the same conclusion. A battery swapping station is an idea, but it becomes an stupid idea, if everyone has its own battery.


Everything is fine the way it is, and everything will only get better.

I have not gone on a 200+ mile trip in over 380 days


There are several reasons why battery swap will not succeed. It is not a business that can make money.

I say that because the total cost of building a swap station and equipping it with a number of 85kWh batteries must be a million dollars or more. Now calculate how many $80 swaps you must do to to get your money back …


Why can’t Tesla include the cost of swapping stations into the price of the Model S/X/3, like they do with the Superchargers?

John in AA

They could, but the previous poster’s point about the cost of the (battery swap) product still applies. It’s just now rolled into the cost of the X as a lump sum. If we accept that the cost (not price, amortized cost to Tesla) per swap is in the $50-80 range, and suppose each X can be expected to do a very modest 100 swaps over its lifetime, they’d have to increase the price by $8,000 to cover. If you suppose a more conservative 1000 swaps, you end up with an untenable $80,000 price increase.

No, I don’t think they will do this.


The notional fee that Tesla charges for Supercharger access is $2000 per car. Installing a battery swap station costs about ten times as much as installing a Supercharger location.

Of course it’s a vast oversimplification to say Tesla would have to charge 10 x as much for unlimited battery swap access, but still it’s a useful ballpark figure to say that Tesla would have to add something in the neighborhood of $20,000 to the cost of every single Model S or X to build out as many battery swap stations as Supercharger locations.

Obviously this would not be a good strategy for Tesla. It would price them out of the market, which is exactly what happened to Better Place, the failed battery swap network in Israel.


Don’t forget Tesla is also earning extra fast fueling credits because of the ability to fast-swap the batteries. It could use the revenue it earns from selling these extra credits to fund the build out of swapping stations.

Someone out there

Well, we’ll need to do something with all the gas stations that soon will become obsolete so why not convert them to battery swap stations?


No, they’ll be coffee shops with SuperChargers. Think about it, in and out in under a half hour. Greater visibility for the brand, and still no advertising.


Well, Tesla did receive a lot of credits to establish quick refueling. And at $1 million or even $1.5 million or so each, still way cheaper than a hydrogen fueling station, even a prototype one.


There’s a gulf as wide as the Grand Canyon between “not as bad an idea as a hydrogen fueling station” and “an idea that actually might turn a profit for the company”.

It doesn’t take a whole lot of thought to realize that with battery swap stations costing $500,000 apiece, and with each extra battery pack costing so much (something like $20,000-25,000 apiece for Tesla packs), it would cost far too much for the initial investment to build and stock a network of swap stations. And that investment would have to be made before the company could ever earn one dime in subscription fees.

But despite this, (Project) Better Place went ahead and tried to do it anyway. The only thing that surprised me about what happened was that they went bankrupt even faster than I thought they would… in less than a year.

As idealistic as he is, I’m pretty sure Elon Musk has more business sense than to try that.


It’s quite a surprise to find out that Tesla needs 4 guys to do an automated battery swap. Elon forgot to mention that or to show that 4 humans were needed when he debuted the battery swap on stage.

Did K-man ever post up a video showing the melted Supercharger plug tips from the Harris Ranch? I checked his YouTube video feed and couldn’t find it, but he has many videos and I could have missed it. On a side note, one video I looked at showed K’man BBQing at a free non-Tesla fast charger, complete with BBQ, chairs, and table. Taking liberties like that at charging stations will be frowned upon by the property owners and will discourage property owners from siting chargers in their parking lots.



BTW, that’s a charcoal BBQ. What did K-man do with the hot coals when he finished charging? Throw them into the garbage can or throw them into the bushes?

Christopher Allessi II

The coals were let cooled and mixed with water. I dumped them at Train Mountain in the ash pit.


“It’s quite a surprise to find out that Tesla needs 4 guys to do an automated battery swap. Elon forgot to mention that or to show that 4 humans were needed when he debuted the battery swap on stage.”
Human help is required now because of the titanium shield added in March last year. This increases the swap time from 90 seconds to 3-5 minutes.

Big Solar

Thankfully melted supercharger plugs can be replaced and very likely even upgraded.

Christopher Allessi II

I still have 60 gigs of video to go through on that trip. I hope I got a hot of the melted tips.

Christopher Allessi II

Oh, and the parking lot was empty, it was for the College across the street, which was also empty and “closed” for the summer. Place was like no mans land. Barren.


Its not struggling, its a worthless feature.

It is not needed at all.


So it’s just like the falcon-wing doors. 😉


But i would miss answering all the questions from passerbys when i’m plugging in or unplugging at a public charge station! Most are amazed when i tell them that box on the pole is for charging an electric car and its free. Most people still do not realize there are highway capable electric cars available from a handful of manufacturers. My local newspaper wrote an article about the upcoming Tesla Model X and never mentioned it was electric. I wonder if there are people that just think its a really nice looking car and don’t realize its electric. I’ll continue to plug in as a badge of honor. I enjoy all the conversations it starts. People already ice charging stations with big signs on the spots. Can you imagine how badly they will be iced when there is no visible station. only a sign?


Convenience is one thing but cost is another. Big batteries and Supercharging are fine for most rich drivers but not for very heavy drivers and the budget conscious. I’ve been having this debate for 8 years and afforded enough batteries for 230+ mile range EVs are still not here. Supercharging pretty good but still not good enough to pull many drivers out of their ICE cars. Battery swapping could be implemented to satisfy both issues but would require a tremendous amount of investment, commitment, and coordination.


My comment was actually for the article on the inductive charge stations but the same thoughts apply to a battery swap station.Even If it is really quick, non ev drivers are still gonna ask dumb questions like, “do you really remove the whole battery pack to replace it with a charged one, isn’t that a huge inconvenience?” We don’t want people to think that batteries in your car need to be changed like AA batteries do in your tv remote all the time either.