By on June 21, 2013

Those of you wondering exactly how Tesla’s battery swap technology works, here’s your answer. The fully automated system, said to be akin to a carwash, supposedly takes just 90 seconds. To prove the point, Tesla did a side-by-side comparison with an Audi A8 at a fuel pump. It should be noted that the A8 has an enormous 23.8 gallon tank. As Bertel points out, the battery swap system isn’t cheap – but for the folks who are buying a Model S anyways, it’s not a big deal.

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13 Comments on “Video: Tesla’s Battery Swap In Action...”

  • avatar

    Yes, the A8 took twice as long, but it also took on twice as much fuel in terms of range. And the Teslas didn’t have to swipe their gas card, decline a car wash and wait for their receipt to print either.

    Still an impressive demonstration but seems like a long way to go before there’s one of these stations on every corner.

  • avatar

    With the Better Place model, you never actually bought a battery, so if by chance you received an old/damaged/used-up one, you risked nothing. Not the case with the Tesla system. It’s not so much a choice of “free or fast” as much as a decision of “Is this the day I choose to turn in a relatively new, fully functional battery for one in unknown condition?” I don’t know how you can warranty a part that’s been passed around multiple users.

    • 0 avatar

      The diagnostic systems would catch any bad packs.

    • 0 avatar

      Another post on the Tesla swap said that you’re getting a loaner pack, and that you’re commiting to returning and getting your original pack put back in. This, however, raises another question. How many charged packs can a swap station have at the ready since they can’t recharge a customer’s pack to swap into another car later on? They need room to store enough loaner packs to satisfy customer demand, and the packs plus the space to store them will be expensive. Demand will be hard to meet on weekends and holidays.

  • avatar

    This demonstration was a bit unfair to the Audi, considering that it has double the range of the Tesla. There’s probably another 30 seconds to a minute in additional time that the Tesla would face just having to pull off the highway for a 2nd “tank” of fuel (in addition to the battery swap time itself), while the Audi could continue to cruise on.

    • 0 avatar

      “while the Audi could continue to cruise on.”

      For over 9 hours without stopping? For me, the Tesla’s battery range is pretty damned close to my bladder range. Maybe you should also include all of the minute in the course of daily driving where the Audi has to be taken to a gas station for fueling while the Tesla gets fueled at home while the owner is sleeping.

  • avatar
    Sgt Beavis

    Very impressive but it is a stop gap measure. We need 300mi+ range and charging in 10 minutes or less. IMO, super capacitors are the answer to this problem and will cross that final hurdle to making electric cars a real win for consumers.

    I applaud Elon’s efforts but I damn well wish he would get back to building rockets. He’s a lot better at that.

    • 0 avatar

      What would you charge this super capacitor with? 300 miles is about 8X the Volt’s range. Let’s say the Volt gets a 10kWh charge in its 16kWh battery. So your 300 mile super capacitor needs 80kWh of charge in 10 minutes. That’s 480kW. Or 1000 amps at 480 volts! You got a connector and an outlet to handle that?

    • 0 avatar

      On his first real outing, he’s produced a car that smokes the top-line competition … I’d call that amazing performance.


  • avatar

    This is a big deal for Tesla. The S is a very attractive sedan and will be vehicle #2 or 3 for the household of purchasers in the target demographic. 95+% of the time the daily use is well within the range of the pack. Now if the owner wants to head from say, Seattle to Portland for the weekend, he/she can take the beautiful sedan instead of the minivan/suv with no worries and get the original battery pack back on the way back. Tesla just removed the major phychological barrier to the purchase of their product. Will swapping be necessary more than once or twice per year, nope. But it is an option (when built out, all rights reserved, etc, etc). And don’t discount what a PITA hitting a gas station is, in the rain/wind/etc. They are also becoming harder to find in urban areas. How nice it must be to leave home each morning fully fueled.

    • 0 avatar

      Huh? OK, Tesla S will be “vehicle #2” after their Tesla Roadster…

      • 0 avatar

        Here’s the context.

        The Model S is an $80k car. It competes with the S-Class and the 5/7 series (and outsold them both).

        I have yet to hear from a Telsa owner who doesn’t own a variety of other cars, often a mix of electric, luxury, and practical vehicles. They also usually say that the Model S is their favorite car.

        The Model S is a success but, like my Prius (“the ultimate driving appliance”), it is what it is. And it is a high end luxury car for the well off.

        But Tesla’s strategy has always been to move downmarket. They started with a supercar, are now making a successful auper-luxury car, and a luxury crossover is next. They’ve hinted at some mid-market cars, as well. I’m quite interested to hear what they announce next.

        Tesla has hit the target every time so far.

  • avatar

    After reading a couple of different articles on the battery swap, I found the reporting from and offered a bit on insight on WHY they are deploying this tech.
    Tax Credits.

    From el reg:
    “Each swapping station is projected to cost around $500,000 to build, but it won’t all be money out of Tesla’s pocket. The 90-second swapping time helps Tesla meet the “fast refueling” requirement for zero-emissions vehicles set by the California Air Resources Board (CARB), which allows the cars to qualify for government clean-energy credits.

    Because Tesla cars burn no fuel and they’re manufactured in such small quantities relative to the big US automakers, Tesla actually earns surplus energy credits, which it can sell to other companies. Last quarter, such sales brought in $67.9m, which helped Tesla post its first-ever quarterly profit.”

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