By on June 10, 2015

Tesla Model S Near The Manhattan Bridge

How many Tesla owners have paid a visit to the automaker’s sole battery-swap station in the world? Not enough to keep the experiment going.

During Tesla’s annual shareholders meeting Tuesday, CEO Elon Musk responded to a question regarding accessibility to the facility on the grounds of the automaker’s Supercharger station in Harris Ranch, Calif. between San Francisco and Los Angeles. The answer, Autoblog reports, may be a sign Musk won’t commit to another such facility ever again:

It’s just, people don’t care about pack swap. The Superchargers are fast enough that if you’re driving from LA to San Francisco, and you start a trip at 9 a.m., by the time you get to, say, noon, you want to stop, and you want to stretch your legs, hit the restroom, grab a bite to eat, grab a coffee, and be on your way, and by that time, the car is charged and ready to go, and it’s free. So, it’s like, why would you do the pack swap? It doesn’t make much sense.

The swap program was originally a pilot involving 200 invited owners in the area. Of those, Musk says only four or five went through the process, and only once. He adds the program was extended to all Tesla owners, but believes few will ever take up the offer.

In addition to its original intent, the swap facility also served as a California ZEV credit booster for the automaker. With the low turnout, however, Tesla won’t be gaining much in the way of those credits prior to 2018, when the scheme is set to change again.

[Photo credit: Tesla/Facebook]

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19 Comments on “Musk: No Interest In Tesla Battery Swap Facility From Consumers...”

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    Better Place learned this lesson the hard way, and went out of business.

    Battery swapping can only work if all mfrs used a universal battery pack. Then you’d have common hardware, and the critical mass of customers to make a viable business case. But even then, widespread quick charging makes battery swapping a moot option.

    It’s a very important question for Tesla, because abandoning the ability to battery swap could open up a lot of design flexibility for future products.

    • 0 avatar

      More places to stuff batteries since they no longer need to be in a single contiguous removable pack.

      Now, if he’d just hurry up with SpaceX Internet:

    • 0 avatar
      Rod Panhard

      The thing that I didn’t get about Better Place is why they started in Israel. It’s not as if the place is that big. It’s not as if motorists pass through the place on their way to go somewhere else… i.e. driving through Georgia to get to Disney World.

      • 0 avatar

        The founder is Israeli and Israel is a small country that is dependent upon oil imports. Between support from the home team and the country’s small size, Agassi thought that he had a shot. (He was wrong, of course.)

    • 0 avatar

      “Battery swapping can only work if all mfrs used a universal battery pack.”

      The lack of STANDARDIZATION in EV is the real thing holding them back. Tesla lets Tesla owners supercharge for free – but not LEAF or i8 owners.

      I think TESLA hoped their platform would be purchased by more developers to make their own designs atop, but unless that happens, TESLA has nowhere to go, but to be a niche EV for the wealthy Greeners who just want to be different.

    • 0 avatar

      Perhaps they could use old batteries at the supercharger stations as power buffers.

  • avatar
    Rod Panhard

    you start a trip at 9 a.m., by the time you get to, say, noon, you want to stop, and you want to stretch your legs, hit the restroom, grab a bite to eat, grab a coffee, and be on your way, and by that time, the car is charged and ready to go,

    Three hours? Start at 9 a.m.? What a wuss. Start at 5 a.m. Beat rush hour traffic. Get somewhere decent for lunch at 11:30, etc. That’s how you get a 700 mile day done. Not sure the Tesla is up to that.

  • avatar

    Running this through the Corporate Speak Translator(TM) produces this statement:

    “I want to shut down the Harris Ranch battery swap station. If CARB won’t give us the ZEV credits that it used to, then there’s no point.”

    • 0 avatar

      “In approximately 43 hours of observation between Friday, May 22 and Monday, May 25, Daily Kanban did not observe a single battery swap take place at Tesla’s Harris Ranch, CA, battery swap station. This finding comes in spite of analysis by the American Automobile Association and IHS Automotive that this year’s Memorial Day weekend traffic is likely to have been at its highest level in a decade.”

      “However, Tesla’s head of communications Ricardo Reyes tells Daily Kanban that Tesla has invited hundreds of Tesla owners to participate in the battery swap program and that only a small percentage of those invited had elected to take advantage of the offer. Reyes also said that invitations are being sent in “tranches,” implying that more customers may still be invited.”

      Seems to me it was just a PR fluff they used to raise the stock… so no surprise that they are closing it.

      • 0 avatar

        It wasn’t just PR fluff. Tesla used to be eligible for more ZEV credits because of the swap capability.

        CARB has since taken a dim view of the swap feature and downgraded Tesla’s credit-generating status. In any case, battery swapping will provide no additional credits starting in 2018.

        Musk is now preparing his devotees for the upcoming closure. He’s trying to let them down easy.

      • 0 avatar

        There’s little point in having a battery swap station in an area of high supercharger density. It really needs to be in some cow town half way between LA and Vegas or Phoenix.

  • avatar

    The level of cynicism from the B&B is hilarious sometimes. I wonder if it’s my not being an american that causes me not to look at everything through pessimist eyes?

    Tesla tried something new, in a market of newness. People didn’t use it. Probably because it isn’t better than free – 45 minutes to fill up for free is a pretty good deal, and I applaud Tesla for hedging their bets. After all, it’s not like they have limiteless funds to try every option – they need to focus on what consumers want and what will work, and that means that *gasp* sometimes things will turn out to not be popular or necessary.

    But no, please, it’s more fun to believe that in fact Tesla knows everything and every decision was carefully planned around snowing people over as much as possible. ;)

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