Tesla Announces Two Minute Battery Swaps Will Soon be a Reality at Supercharger Stations
The Tesla Model S was designed with easy access to its electric powerplant with quick battery swaps in mind, even if the proposed delivery service (robot-assisted battery replacement at Supercharger stations) didn’t immediately materialize. Last night at a press conference, Tesla announced that it will be retrofitting busy Supercharger stations with a special lift that will replace the batteries of a Tesla Model S in less than two minutes. Because the retrofits cost about $500,000 each, the feature won’t be free like the standard electric charge refill, but it also won’t require a 25-30 minute wait to charge, either. That makes the battery swap option take as long as it does to fill up a car with gasoline, and will be about as expensive: battery swaps will cost roughly the same as 15 gallons of gas.
Using different battery packs presents a unique set of challenges, as lithium-ion batteries can be recharged a limited number of times. Drivers utilizing the swap feature have the option of returning to the same station to pick up their battery, or keeping the newly installed battery for an undetermined price, depending on the remaining charge on the outgoing battery.
Tesla owners will leave a credit card on file so they never have to leave their car to partake in the swap, and an unspecified warranty will also be made available to those people who elect to make the swap permanent. If you make the return trip on the borrowed pack and don’t want to go through the hassle of returning to the station to exchange it, Tesla will ship your old battery pack for a “transport fee” (also TBD).
According to Forbes writer Mark Rogowsky, the first Supercharger stations to be fitted with the battery swap addon will be located along the I-5 on the west coast at the end of the year, with the Boston-Washington D.C. route covered soon thereafter. As always, the normal plug-in Supercharger option will be free for those who don’t mind checking out the surrounding area if they don’t want to spend $60 to get on the go faster.
Watch the Tesla Model S battery swap demonstration below: