While watching the video of Elon Musk demonstrating Tesla’s new battery swap mechanism that will be installed at the EV company’s ‘supercharger’ stations (Musk prefers to call them “Tesla stations”) I remembered something that Tom Wolfe wrote about air-cooled Volkswagens in his 1968 compilation, The Pumphouse Gang.
[A]ll up and down the coast from Los Angeles to Baja California kids can go to one of these beach towns and live the complete surfing life. They take off from home and get to the beach, and if they need a place to stay, well, somebody rents a garage for twenty bucks a month and everybody moves, girls and boys. Furniture it’s like one means, you know appropriates furniture from here and there. It’s like the Volkswagen buses a lot of kids now use as beach wagons instead of woodies. Woodies are old station wagons, usually Fords, with wooden bodies, from back before 1953. One of the great things about a Volkswagen bus is that one can exchange motors in about three minutes. A good VW motor exchanger can go up to a parked Volkswagen, and a few ratchets of the old wrench here and its up and out and he has a new motor. There must be a few nice old black panthers around wondering why their nice hubby-mommy VWs don’t’ run so good anymore — but — then — they — are — probably — puzzled — about — a — lot of things. Yes.
The reason why it’s so easy to steal a Beetle (or Bus) engine is that they’re mounted from underneath the car. Jack up the Bug, put a floor jack under the engine, remove the four bolts that hold the engine to the bellhousing on the transaxle, disconnect the throttle cable and fuel lines, and roll away the engine.
As you can see from the video, the Tesla S’ battery pack is also mounted on the underside of that car and I’m sure that a Tesla station’s battery swap machine isn’t the only way those batteries can be removed. Dealer mechanics must have the ability to remove and replace batteries as well, using conventional tools, lifts and hoists. I’m wondering what kinds of systems or technology Tesla has implemented in how their Model S battery pack is mounted and connected to the car in order to prevent battery theft. Otherwise, like the owners of Wolfe’s nice hubby-mommy VW’s, some Tesla S owners might come out to their cars to find that they don’t run so good anymore.
Ronnie Schreiber edits Cars In Depth, a realistic perspective on cars & car culture and the original 3D car site. If you found this post worthwhile, you can dig deeper at Cars In Depth. If the 3D thing freaks you out, don’t worry, all the photo and video players in use at the site have mono options. Thanks for reading – RJS