Update On Tesla Battery Swapping – First Station To Open At Harris Ranch Supercharger Location

3 years ago by Eric Loveday 33

To Battery Swap Or Not To Battery Swap...

To Battery Swap Or Not To Battery Swap…

Let's Swap

Let’s Swap

Thanks to Jalopnik, we now have an official update on the status of battery swapping for Tesla Motors.

With nearly a year having gone by since we witness the live battery swap demo on stage and the promised (by end of 2013) arrival of battery swapping having come and gone, Jalopnik contacted Tesla to see what’s up.

Jalopnik asked, “So where the hell is it and why is Tesla stalling?”

Before we get to the answer provided by Tesla Motors, let’s first re-visit the most recent Elon Musk comment on the battery swapping topic from February 2014:

“We’re a little late on [battery swapping] because we got preoccupied with a few other issues.  But we’re hopefully going to get that enabled in the next few months between LA and San Francisco.”

The next few months have come and gone, so what’s the status now?

Battery Swap Demo

Battery Swap Demo

Jalopnik reports that Tesla has focused most of its efforts on Supercharger deployment and that has led to the battery swap delay.  Quoting Diarmuid O’Connell, Tesla VP Corporate Development

“We diverted most of our team and resources to expanding that network as quickly as possible. It was mostly a reprioritization of efforts.”

Of course, there’s that whole CARB eliminating the additional “fast fueling” credits in April 2014 that we’re certain have come into play too, but let’s ignore that (it makes for a boring discussion) for now.

Instead, let’s turn our attention to the latest intel on battery swapping.  O’Connell adds:

“I’d like to have something in place by the end of the third quarter.  We’re in the process of developing our first location.  We still believe that there are some interesting applications for swap and this first site will be a demonstration – a prototype – for one of those utilities.”

“We’ve talked about swap in various contexts.  You can imagine scenarios where a fleet operator is working with swap in a depot system, where vehicles return from and to a particular location regularly.”

And where would that “particular location” be?  How ’bout at the site of the Harris Ranch Supercharger:

Harris Ranch Supercharger Info

Harris Ranch Supercharger Info

Where there just so happens to be a non-functional car wash site, which would make for an ideal battery swap station.  Apparently, Tesla has already struck a deal with with the property owners and the battery swap site should be operational within 6 month’s time.

Makes sense right?  Tesla rips up the concrete, installs the necessary mechanicals and make use of the existing car wash facility.  Pull in…pull out.

Now, the question is, who will be able to use the battery swap facility?  All Model S owners? Probably not.  More likely is that it’ll be utilized by perhaps a fleet of Model S taxis.  Remember, O’Connell says the first site will be “demonstration – a prototype – for one of those utilities.  You can imagine scenarios where a fleet operator is working with swap in a depot system, where vehicles return from and to a particular location regularly.”

Look for the Harris Ranch Supercharger site to soon become home to the world’s first Tesla battery swapping station.

Source: Jalopnik & Tesla Motors Club

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33 responses to "Update On Tesla Battery Swapping – First Station To Open At Harris Ranch Supercharger Location"

  1. SeattleTeslaGuy says:

    I have always believed that battery swapping is simply not going to happen. Fast charging (i.e. SCs) works pretty well and few cars will ever need the kind of turn around that BS allows.

    But more importantly, model s production is limited by the battery production. Why would Tesla drop a couple hundred batteries into a depot when they could use them to build more cars? Maybe it’s worth it for the CARB credits but that seems like a misguided reason as Tesla is way far ahead of the game. Maybe in a world where there is excess battery production (ie, gigafactory at full production) but I don’t see that happening anytime soon.

  2. TomArt says:

    I think the idea is that they would only have to seed each swap station a modest amount of packs. The point is that people will use them, so the dropped-off packs will be charged while new ones will drive off. You don’t really need alot at any single station.

  3. TomArt says:

    What surprises me more is that the article is leaning away from the assumed and expected customer swapping. That does not make sense, particularly when the location is just another place – a way station, not a hub of fleet activity.

    I would be absolutely shocked if this swap station will not be available to the Model S public.

  4. ThombDBhomb says:

    Coalinga California doesn’t seem to be the type of place that has a lot of taxis

    1. Assaf says:

      Haha, just google mapped it, you’re absolutely right. Middle of nowhere.

      OTOH, the ranch is right off the I-5, 200 miles from downtown LA and 180 miles from downtown SF.

      Sounds like they actually envision selling swaps to those wishing to fast-track it SF to LA without waiting 40 minutes for the Supercharger.

      Personally I wouldn’t mind a half-hour breather after being stuck in a car for 3 hours, even if the car is a Model S – but this seems like the target pitch.

      1. Spec9 says:

        Yeah, if you’ve ever been to the Harris Ranch, you’d know that it is not exactly the ideal place for a ‘breather’.

        Let’s just say those cows could provide a lot of methane.

        1. See Through says:

          A lot of methane? Sounds like a cow-powered H2 filling station makes more sense 🙁

          Kidding aside, how is the battery going to be awapped with the titanium shield installed? Is it replaced from the side of the car so the titanium shield remains in place?

        2. Anon says:

          After seeing the bulldozed hills of manure and ponds of urine the cows wade thru, I swore off eating beef after driving from LA to SF…

          “Breather” is so ironically perfect for Harris Ranch… Stenchiest place on earth.

  5. Mike I says:

    Harris Ranch and Tejon Ranch have always been the obvious choices for the first swap station.

  6. shrink says:

    I just bought a used Model S and was struggling with 60 vs. 85. There were some budget constraints as one might imagine with a purchase of this amount, and I decided I was not going to finance.

    A 60 would suit my daily needs very well and if battery swap were in place, I would have happily swapped in an 85 for a road trip and then picked up my 60 on the way back. However, I began thinking battery swapping was nothing but vaporware. So, between a less optioned used 85 vs. a loaded 60, I went with the 85.

    However, had battery swapping been readily available, I would have went with the 60.

    Nice to see this is actually happening, although the rollout will be very slow. It’s good to have options.

    1. Evil Attorney says:

      Just curious, was it a private sale? Can I ask how much you paid, or at least about how much off the new sticker price it was. I have been trying to keep my eye out for used a Model S, but they have been selling for almost sticker, used.

      1. shrink says:

        Private sale and no sales tax in Arizona on car sales between private parties. Plus it costs only about $25/year to register and EV in Arizona.

        2013 85/silver/pano roof/tan leather/obeche – 8800 miles, $72,500.

        The owner paid about $81K so minus the federal tax credit, he essentially drove a Model S free for year (+interest on his lien). However, this car also had some tech package features no longer included – e.g, DRL’s, memory seats, keyless entry, premium interior lighting. Tesla now charges extra for all that so the same car today would have cost about $88K + tax new (minus $7500 tax credit). My other options were fully loaded 85’s in colors I did not like for $81-$86K, used 60 fully loaded for $66K, or inventory car from Tesla, 60 fully loaded for $84K + tax – $7500.

        I’m happy with my choice. The only thing I don’t like is the car does not lock automatically when I walk away. I have to press the key fob. It unlocks by touching the door handles, but I can’t walk away and have it auto lock. That’s a tech package feature that I miss.

        1. See Through says:

          Shrink,
          It’s good that you saved some money. Just curious,
          – For ‘no sales tax on private party sale’, does the seller also need to be in AZ?
          – What exactly is this Tesla inventory car?
          – How did you find used model s? Is it from some website or local listings? There aren’t too many in the market, I guess.
          – How is the charge holding up in hot AZ summer?

          1. shrink says:

            When you buy a Tesla outside of CA, you pay sales tax in the state where the car is registered. I actually purchased a CPO Roadster from Tesla last year and had to pay over $4000 when I got the plates. For private party car sales in Arizona, it doesn’t really matter from where the car was purchased. As long as the seller wasn’t a dealer, no sales tax is owed. I guess the thinking is that sales tax was already paid on the car when it was first purchased, so there is no need to tax it again.

            A Tesla inventory car is the loaner cars the service center uses. Tesla sells them regularly. I can’t remember the exact discount but it depends on the mileage and age of the car. These cars still qualify for the federal $7500 tax credit. Inventory changes often. Since I owned a Tesla already, I knew the folks at my local service center. I told them i was interested and they put me in touch with someone in California. Just call your local service center or talk to someone at the nearest Tesla store and they’ll pull up the inventory for you. I told my rep what I was looking for and he would send me weekly updates on what was available.

            I found a used Model S by browsing Cars.com, Autotrader.com, and eBay motors. I was also checking the Tesla Motors Club forum regularly.

            No idea about battery longevity in Phoenix yet. I’ve had the car less than a week, but we’re only charging to 50%. We don’t need all that range on a daily basis. Combined with the TMS, we’re very hopeful it will hold up well.

            1. See Through says:

              Shrink,
              Thanks much! Enjoy your new car.
              I think, battery longevity will be fine, as Tesla batteries have thermal management. But the thermal management will use up some power, that’s all.

    2. See Through says:

      It’s not clear, if the 60 KWH and 85 KWH are compatible, and if we can swap one for the other. The software might be different for the two?

      1. shrink says:

        That’s a good point. I just assumed batteries of different sizes would be swappable. Guess we really won’t know until this proceeds further.

        1. Big Solar says:

          At first they said they were not and then they said we would be able to swap. Not sure where it will end up.

  7. Dr. Kenneth Noisewater says:

    “More likely is that it’ll be utilized by perhaps a fleet of Model S taxis.”

    Harris Branch has that much demand for taxis?

    But seriously, given how much Tesla charges for a battery pull/swap (5hrs), I kinda doubt ‘legacy’ Model S’ will be able to avail themselves of swaps without some sort of preparation service.

    “Battery 85kWh= +$44,564
    Trade-in 60kWh battery= -$29,681
    Labor $150/hr x 5hrs= +$600
    Shipping= +$1,520
    Tax= +$1,257

    —————-

    Total cost = $18,386”

    http://www.teslamotors.com/it_IT/forum/forums/battery-upgrade-1

  8. Spec9 says:

    CARB should give Tesla extra points since battery swapping can be done much faster than refueling a hydrogen fuel cell car . . . and especially since there so few hydrogen fueling stations.

    1. See Through says:

      “… so few hydrogen fueling stations”

      They are still more in number than the projected battery swap stations! And if you include the ones under development already plus the private ones, there are way more H2 filling station in CA than battery swap stations! This prototype swap station will be useful only as a face saver, and nothing more.

      Besides, an H2 filling station is general; ALL Hydrogen vehicles including giant trucks can use the same station. What about the battery swap? It will just be a huge waste of money to build a battery swaps stations only for one kind of car.

      1. Big Solar says:

        There are more but only because there are no swap stations. Tesla has shown how fast they put up superchargers though………..

  9. Gibber says:

    Bravo Eric on the photo choice. All that is missing is the “Brown chicken brown cow” music track. LMAO.

    1. sven says:

      Is that a pic of the InsideEV’s writing staff? 😉

  10. 250volts says:

    Elon does things because he can

  11. ffbj says:

    In some ways it seems like the cherry on top of the ice cream sundae. You don’t really need it but it looks cool, and it is yummy. Somewhat also to demonstrate their engineering expertise.
    So eventually if they build enough of them you could traverse CA North to South virtually nonstop, and faster than an ice could going at the same average speed, since filling up with gas takes longer than swapping out the battery does.
    Musk always said that the ev should exceed, be better than, the ice in every category.

  12. Taser54 says:

    Seems like mission creep. Battery swapping diverts engineering resources better used for design and production of Model X and Gen 3

    1. See Through says:

      Yeah. Will the same swap station work for model S, X and gen 3? I doubt it.

      1. Anon says:

        Unlike you, SwapBot is programable…

  13. Anon says:

    So, we have about 6 more months of CherylG whining about where the Tesla swap stations are? Not sure I can handle that. 😉

    1. CherylG says:

      I know you hate it when I’m proven right, once again.

      I would hate to say I told ya so, but, I told ya so.