Tesla to Perform “Live Pack Swap Demo” This Thursday (UPDATE)


Battery Swap Demo to be Performed Live on Thursday Evening

Battery Swap Demo to be Performed Live on Thursday Evening

Seeing is believing,” Tweets Tesla CEO Elon Musk.

Tesla Teaser Pic.  Source Address: http://www.teslamotors.com/sites/default/files/battswap-hero_732_448.png

Tesla Teaser Pic. Source Address: http://www.teslamotors.com/sites/default/files/battswap-hero_732_448.png

And we’ll see precisely what’s meant by this on Thursday evening when Tesla performs a “live pack swap demo” at it design studio in Hawthorne, California at 8 pm “California time.”

This now leads us to believe that when Tesla slipped that image of the Model S out, (the one with the file name: battswap-hero_732_448.png) we were indeed on to something that most of the rest of the world had missed.

Could it be that the the way for the Tesla Model S to be “recharged throughout the country faster than you could fill a gas tank” is by battery swapping?  It sure seem that’s the case.

Thursday night can’t come soon enough.

Musk Battery Refueling Tweet

Musk Battery Refueling Tweet

UPDATE: Additional Musk Tweets added below.

musk tweet 3musk tweet 4





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32 Comments on "Tesla to Perform “Live Pack Swap Demo” This Thursday (UPDATE)"

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But … but but … didn’t Better Place just collapse trying to do this? Are we to believe that just didn’t execute the plan well enough? That the problems of keeping a bunch of charged packs on the ready with large tooling to make the swap are somehow magically transformed into advantages for Tesla?

Short answer: yes, Better Place committed pretty much every mistake in the book. See e.g., here: http://theonlydemocracy.org/2012/10/how-not-to-introduce-new-green-tech-the-cautionary-tale-of-better-place/ Long answer: Tesla is already selling their S very nicely, thank you. They already have perhaps 10x more model S’s on the road than Better Place managed to sell in its short and sorry career. I presume this new capability will be a fee-based service, so more revenue for them while serving those intrepid Model S cross-country road-trippers. And given that they already have fast-charge stations, the cost overhead is probably not prohibitive (unlike Better Place’s swap stations which cost upwards of $2 million each to build). Of course, the Tesla move is a huge PR stunt and marketing wow factor. And perfectly timed. By now the mainstream CW on the S has become “yes, it’s almost perfect, but still, that range….” Well, If the S’s battery is swappable, then what’s exactly the limitation of that vehicle again? Only the price. Then in 1-2 years they will come out with a more affordable model. It’s actually the shorter range Leafs et al. that could benefit more from a swappable battery right now. But if I were Nissan and needed to choose between just… Read more »

I get it that Tesla wants to make a EV that is better than an ICE in all respects … and I’m rooting for them. But, why not stick with the simpler strategy of super-charger stations and/or other strategies (i.e., better efficiency and larger battery packs) to get there? I just feel like they’re trying to take on too much all at once; as if they have to answer all these questions in the next 12 months, or perish. My fear is that aggressive strategy will backfire and actually CAUSE them to perish. And, the worst part, I’ll never be able to purchase the more affordable Tesla, in part because this kind of service/strategy is only going to drive the costs for driving an EV UP (I don’t think those costs can be supported only by those taking that service – the demand will be too low and therefore costs too high per user for it to be paid in that way).

You’ve got a point. And your comment also highlights Tesla’s main strategy. We’ve seen this before… It’s the same old glass-ceiling story. The first women and minority persons in any lucrative field must be better than anyone else just in order to be allowed into the room (e.g., see how the current First Family are so model-citizen in their behavior that it’s ridiculous – we haven’t had such picture-perfect White House occupants in a century at least – they must do it, because they’re black, even as it is the airwaves are rife with racist slurs about Michelle, you can only imagine what would happen if they were less perfect). Similarly, Elon Musk realized that in order to be even considered as a viable car by the conventional wisdom, his company’s first mass EV must be simply the best. The Perfect Car, no less. The battery-swap thing is a PR stunt. Evidently it cannot be done unless the car has been designed that way from the start – apparently it was. So the story here is really that they’ve managed to keep this capability secret till now, in order to get one more blow at that glass ceiling. The stunt… Read more »

Sorry, my error. $1-1.5 Billion is the annual revenue from 20k+ Tesla S’s, not the quarterly. Still a nice sum for a small carmaker. Fact is, they’ve just paid off their Federal loan ahead of time. So they’re under no special financial stress as long as they can keep making cars. Demand exceeds the supply at the moment.

I don’t understand why they even need this?! They are rolling out supercharging stations everywhere. Why would you need to swap out a battery? Sure, you might save a few minutes of your time over supercharging but is all the rest of the hassle worth it?

David, you are thinking like a rational EV driver. But that’s not where the battlefield is. What Musk and all the rest of the EV industry need to deal with right now, is the irrational fear of the wide public from the EV, and the reflexive self-interested push-back from the mainstream media and business status quo. Over 2 years after Nissan Leafs started rolling on American roads, most Americans are still shocked when they get into a Leaf and find out it’s not shoebox-sized (all 5 of us, including 2 teenagers, plus a dog, ride in the Leaf without a problem). They are also surprised to hear it’s not lawnmower-weak. Why is that? Because there’s something irrational in the way people approach the subject. Musk decided to shatter this insular silliness by coming down from the top, building a EV that’s better than any gas car. The only remaining barrier is the range. If they make a successful demo of this swap thing, then – you are right, it might only help actual current S drivers on about 1 in 100 driver-days or even less – but it will blow a huge hole in the “EVs are just government-subsidized expensive… Read more »

Well articulated Assaf. Lensman recently commented on my original post from the shareholders meeting stating similar facts in the service model Tesla offers with the SuperCharger network. It is difficult to see the marketing investment sometimes but perception matters in business as well.

If the cost of a battery swap station is < the cost one super charge station it might be viable for Tesla.


I don’t see how it could be since you still need to charge the batteries, and you need to have a bunch of batteries on hand. Plus now you have all of the automation. I’m guessing battery swapping would work better at the congested super-charger stations, and maybe that’s what he’s looking at. Getting more throughput.

Yes, I still think it would be cheaper to roll out hundreds of super charger stations country-wide than a few of these battery swap locations. Just think of the number of employees and huge capital needed for extra batteries.

I agree with David Murray. It is an addition though and it is not the only alternative. I think it is a smart move to give people the choice. As for the cost it is hardly dear. The old battery will be charged in 44 minutes if it is completly empty, so double buffering with a couple of batteries per station is not a lot.

I hope that soon they will use Lithium Sulfer. This will mean that every one will charge at home and hardly need a charging station since the battery will last much more than one could ever drive in 8 hours, after which I would need a good sleep.

I don’t think the technology is the challenge, it’s how you sell it and implement it. What do you charge for the car now? Do people lease the batteries? What should the lease cost? Will there be enough of a market for long range EV-travelling to make this viable?

Wanted to add, as I stated above, maybe he’s looking at this for the congested stations, and no so much for the ones out in the middle of nowhere. Guess we’ll find out in 2 days.

I think their model was that you would drop off your battery on the way to your destination, then pick it up on the way home. So you still end up with your battery at the end of the trip, but you borrowed one of Tesla’s in the meantime while you were on the trip.

Borrow the battery? Seems like it would be cheaper and much simpler to just borrow a whole car. For the cost of a battery swap station (say, $500K), Tesla could have several fully-charged loaner models on stand-by. This could also have some marketing value, as it would get customers to try new models and possibly upgrade. 🙂

I agree, mechanically, this has bad idea written all over it.

It’s starting to look pretty much that the announcement will be a form of battery swapping. I just struggle to wrap my head around how Tesla found a better way to do this than Better Place. I mean the pack is heavy AND the most expensive single component of the vehicle. If they offer a battery swap station, I’m guessing the ratio between these and superchargers will be at least 10 superchargers to every one swap station.

Agree completely.

Plus I was under the impression that the Model S battery box was an integral part of the chassis that helps provide rigidity. And it must have connections for power, temperature monitoring, and coolant flow. I don’t see how all that can be detached, disconnected, reattached, and reconnected in a short period of time, even under ideal clean conditions. Not to mention under re-world conditions that might include dirt, mud, salt, ice, stripped fasteners, etc.

And how would swapping affect your battery warranty? For example, what if they swap your new battery with a warn battery, or (accidentally) a battery with the wrong capacity?

And what about future battery designs? There are only two battery designs for now, but that’s certain to increase as their product line evolves. Every swap station would need to have some of each design.

If Tesla has figured out a way to overcome all these issues, I will be truly impressed.

I still do not believe.

Well, Tesla already anounced that the superchargers will have some kind of battery storage to store solar power and to deliver high output if many cars charge at the same time. Also it helps with power shortages/failures. Economicaly it wouldn’t make much sense to use other batteries for that than for the cars (economy of purchase scale). So why not ad a swapper to the power storage buildings.
Most interesting will be the cost of this service and if you have to return the swapped battery to the same place, to any swapping place or if you can keep it. What will happen to your milage waranty in that case? Will it become a lifetime waranty?

This will become Tesla’s first flop.
The costs for a change system will explode with the number of different car models, or all future car designs will be very limited by staying compatible with an outdated battery type.

“This will become Tesla’s first flop.
The costs for a change system will explode with the number of different car models, or all future car designs will be very limited by staying compatible with an outdated battery type.”


Why bother…. range is fine.


While the idea of a swap station at a supercharger location makes a lot of sense to me, one way of saving capital costs could be to offer battery swap at their service center locations. Your in-car nav would be able to direct you to the nearest one. Wouldn’t it be funny if suddenly we found out that their service centers all happen to be conveniently located next to a freeway?!?

Doesn’t make much sense, because the service centers are located not at the highways. Driving down into a city location will take you more time, then just charge directly at a highway supercharger.

What about multi individual 18650 cells swaps through a kind of rattling gun system.
A small opening in the battery through which compressed air blows away all the cells and replace them with fresh ones.
Perhaps the swap is concerning an additional Aluminum air battery in the frunk. One consisting of 10 pound units that can be removed by hand and exchanged at the station desk. Think small camping gas bottle size. Of course those aluminum air batteries can’t be recharged but who cares if you can just replace them easily. That would indeed be faster than a gas fill up.

18650*2 mechanical unfixed contacts will work well….

Lose at first, then pressed by the upper plate.

In the mean time I am analyzing how ammunition storage magazines are working for potential instructive know how. Ammunitions are on a chain or can roll marine way. It is very interesting

Here are compatible storage system in the likes of the Oerlikon linkless ammunition feed system:


or a larger one like this


Along with the exchange connector much like this:


Of course don’t fill you Tesla battery with ammunition but standard 18650 cells.

Something else to look into is beer can handling systems in factories. Add a bit of a magnetic linear motor sauce to move the rounds, sorry the 18650 cells, around and you start to get the picture of what I am thinking off.

If you can fire 2000 rounds per minute you can exchange 8000 18650 cells in 4 minutes, so it’s a done deal. This has the advantage over a big swap system, that everything goes through a small opening in the battery.

By finding a magnetic drive system it could be smooth and silent, perhaps even faster.

IMO Everyone is applying too much logic to this situation. Read Assaf’s comments again. Watch the shareholders Q&A again long enough to watch the first question about adding noise to a Model S from the elderly women. huh? Better Place had to actually have customers. Tesla can use this as a tool in the all around complete EV. I don’t mean to generalize on all of my elders but many of the older buying market still thinks battery swap is a good idea. Now they come to this conclusion without actually owning an EV and understanding how charging really works, that is until they actually own one. They are however a HUGE portion of potential Model S and Model X owners. I am sure Elon will actually install one or two stations in heavy usage areas and that will be enough to add loads to the brand perception (with marginal investment). I have no use for a battery swap myself and without the model of getting your own battery back, which I am certain they will do, there is no way I would let anyone have my battery. This is easily handled in the Tesla model. If the Model S… Read more »

Musk is launching a real dud with this swapping scheme – it’s a costly, static solution to a problem that is shrinking over time. It didn’t work in Israel, why does he think it will work in the USA? It won’t.

He is exposing an unexpected lack of confidence in the viability of Tesla’s network of recharging points. Has Tesla peaked as a company? They are in danger of painting themselves into a corner with this misdirected decision.

Don’t be to severe, if they propose the same battery swap system, no one will be forced to use it. It would just be an extra possibility.