Swap Demo - Crowdsourced Projections

So it's official: we're on for a very exciting live demo Thursday. (Will be there for sure).

New battery swapping technology will let you add charge to you Model S in less time than gas.

Here's your chance to show your chops as a Tesla forum expert. Make your educated guesses at the following specs:

1. Capacity added per pack swap (kWH): 85, 60, 40 ... ?

2. Sub components per pack: 1, 2, 4 ...?

3 Weight of each component (lbs): 1,000, 200, 100, 40 .., ?

4. Swap hardware option cost: $2k, $1K, $500, free .... ?

5. Exchange fee per swap: $199, $99. $69 .... .?

6. Swap Locations: TM Service centers, SC's, TM Swap centers, existing retailers ... ?

Ply your wits and see how well the wisdom of the crowd predicts the results.

Winning prediction gets halo post.

40 lbs seems kind of light for the amount of range the swappable battery pack is suppose to provide

40 lbs per 15 kWh module, makes 60kWh boost with 4 packs installed.

If you have a full 85 + a 60 range pack boost, you get 145 kWH starting out. At 300wH per mile, that's almost 500 miles. If the modules are 20kWh each, that's easily 500.

Multiple smaller units are more manageable to load by a single person, rather than one big pack.

Credit to mdemetri for recognizing the value of subdivision.

People keep saying that an add on pack in the frunk won't work because it'll have to be retested for crash saftey, but Elon says the swap technology was built into the car from the beginning. If that's the case then I'd think they would have already had the chance to crash test it with the battery pack in the frunk if that's really the plan.

My guess is that it will not be a swap of our existing battery, but the addition of another for road tripping. Thus, if you picked one up before you left, you would get that extra range from the start.

My guess is it will be a frunker.

I think that the only way this goes big is with some kind of partner. A Walmart, a Costco, a Radio Shack, or a gas station brand. I don't care who, just some company with well distributed national locations, preferably near highways. BTW, Radio Shack I include because they need to make money off of new products, can't survive selling $2 switches once a year.

I also expect Musk to explain some kind of cool pricing and financing options. Like a users' choice between subscriptions or per use fees.

It will be the main pack not a "frunk" pack. Why?

Because that's where the front motor goes in the AWD MX and MS. ;-)

I'm not sure what the big deal is, really. When I took the factory tour back in January on the day I picked up my Model S I distinctly recall a conversation with the tour guide him saying that the battery could be uninstalled and reinstalled in less than five minutes.

I'm glad to see a demonstration of this remarkable feat but I don't think it will be any kind of game changer for TM. I agree that this type of setup might be good for fleets but on an individual basis I would rather just hold on to my original battery until I can replace it with a newer and more efficient version of the battery.

I'm holding out hope for the 500 mile battery for under $10,000 within the lifetime of my Model S. Wouldn't that be grand?

hmmmm. I am not real impressed with the swap idea. I'll hold my judgement until after the demo to see the technical details. No one will spend money on it if it brings the fuel cost up to that of an ICE so it will have to be cheap..... well let's make that no average driver. The early adopters might but most of them charge at home and I'd rather wait 20 minutes for the free juice.

If the packs are also being used to power the grid at peak times then you won't be swapping for a full pack now will you?

Doesn't solve the problem of driving off with a bad pack. I know my pack works. There have already been a few people that got full battery replacements from the factory so testing simply doesn't catch all the pack problems. With superchargers in the middle of no where, and I imagine the swap stations with them, it would suck to get 60-100 miles to the real middle of no where and have the battery fail.

If TM is not rolling this out ASAP it may be obsolete with new battery tech coming out in 3 years so this might just be a crowd pleaser.

My comments are for the location of the swaps and pricing. Why take so much investment in the supercharging network if tesla will just try a different form of charging. So, my guess will be that there will be additions to the original and future supercharging networks. So, one location can supply a swap if it was purchased, but if the driver didn't, then they would use the supercharger.
So, my guess on the prices would be 2K to install, and free to use from then on because Tesla wants to make traveling road trips with electric cars more convenient and realistic.
Bottom line, If they make it cheaper and faster, then they'll get more purchases by people who travel long distances(since electric cars are considered city vehicles).

At least this gives hope that when battery improvements come out, owners may have a good chance of buying a better battery since its easily swapped out. Further future proofing the Model S in the process.

Mark K has finally won me over with his thought out theory. Will know in a few days now

Ok, I am beside myself trying to piece this together. On the one hand, the evidence that the demo on June 20 will be main pack swapping is very strong and hard to deny, particulalry given the interview Elon gave to Reuters today. However, I still do not see the demand or buisness model for main pack swapping. Then there is the difficulty of main pack swapping detailed by Pungoteague_Dave and Lush1 in another thread!! So how can it be main pack swapping????!!!!

While I am still convinced that the range pack for the frunk idea is a far superior approach then main pack swapping, the only thing that could work for main pack swapping is along the lines of what EcLectric proposed above: you exchange the batteries but not the casing that holds the batteries. In this scenario, all the bolts, cooling hoses etc would remain untouched and the structural integrity of the car would not be impacted. You simply open a port in the casing to pull out the existing battery array (with the batteries individually lined up single file in a plastic mesh, full credit to EcLectric fot this idea). If you attach the new linear battery array/mesh to the other end (at another port), they would be pulled into the battery casing when the old ones are pulled out. This literally could take seconds to change out the batteries. Really, it is kind of brilliant. Something like this (ie battery casing left untouched) is the only way I can see main back swapping happening.


Don't think "depackaging" the battery is likely, needs to stay sealed for reliability and safety.

Doug and mdemetri - couldn't see the Reuters video, at what point in the video and with what comment did Elon make a definitive statement that the main pack is swapped rather than "charged"? Just want to parse his words more thoroughly to understand. "Charged" would give him wiggle room to refill it with a separate range pack. Elon has also shown a talent for being coy when necessary.

The notion of inventorying a fleet of $30,000 packs still does not seem logical to me. Al-air pack is shelf-stable, can be shipped dry and is very light weight. It doesn't need a cooling system or the same extent of high voltage interlock loops. It fans out to as many existing retailer locations as TM wants, very quickly.

In the reuters video, Elon pointed to the reporter's laptop, and said something like "you can swap your battery out in, what, less than 30 seconds?" "Now imagine if you had a machine doing it for you."

We'll see what this means thursday evening. But it seems to me that he is talking about just changing out the whole battery really quickly. You don't have to come up with a whole design to make it happen... They designed the Model S from the ground up to have this capability. They've already though about how to get it out around all the cooling hoses. It doesn't matter if anyone here can imagine how it's done... They can do it.

Also in the video, Musk said that the battery swap stations would be released in limited distribution, and would be rolled out more widely if the demand is there. He wouldn't discuss the "economics of it" because he wanted to leave something for thursday. He did say that he envisions swap stations at all the supercharger stations, if the demand is there. I imagine they could also place them at contract stations and at service centers.

Elon said that a notional rollout would cost $50-$100 million. He said that "isn't pocket change" but said Tesla could afford that with the current business model.

I'm just posting to say I am the target market for battery swapping and this also makes me very interested in a used Model S since battery degradation won't be an issue for me anymore. That means your resale value may have gone up depending on how Tesla will price this.

Also, as far as the economics go they aren't complicated. The device that swaps the battery can fit at existing supercharger stations. Supercharging technology dramatically reduces the amount of battery stock they need to keep so 4 batteries of each size would probably suffice. That costs like $200k at $400/kwhr but probably costs Tesla even less. We can assume the swap device is clever and inexpensive so lets just assume $100k. So it is basically similar to what the supercharger originally cost. But wait, there's more, the batteries waiting to be swapped will be peakers for the power companies. Especially the ones that aren't first in line. This will offset the operational cost.

It doesn't sound that bad to me. And since he is talking $50-100 million for a nationwide rollout and you think battery swapping is pointless then just think of it as a marketing budget as someone else suggested.

I already said my predictions at the beginning of this thread but I'd like to clarify that this swap stations will be IN THE CITIES and won't be free, unlike SC which are between cities and free. Why would anybody charge for 30-40 minutes instead of swaping battery in 2 minutes?
However in the city it has own logic, not every body has own garage or charging spot at work so swap the battery once a while in the city makes much more sense.

I would like to see < 85 KWh batteries be swapped for 85 KWh for longer trips (with a fee for each day used). Swap back to original capacity when your trip is over.

You forgot the Keurig.

TFmethane - that particular quote doesn't definitively point to main pack swapping, so it's still indeterminate. Doug, medemetri, anything else you heard in the video that's more concrete?

Remember that adding charge is more powerful than replacing charge because range gets bigger, which is one of the two consumer resistance points. The other is ubiquity - which happens far faster if you can simply stock existing retail service sites rather building them out.

It is not enough to have it at 100 sites nationwide, you need far more sites to really compete with gas stations.

To get to true time and place utility at parity with gas, you need something that can scale quickly. Hard to get there by stocking $30K SKU's nationwide.

The Al Air pack should be at least an order of magnitude less expensive, maybe sub-1k cost if TM makes it themselves. That's conceivable though nontrivial. My guess is they see this as an enabler rather than a profit center.

The utilization factor only needs to be a tiny percent to solve that small minority of cases where you need it. That would erase the fear that you couldn't do what your gas car does. Most people would far prefer to charge at home on a routine basis.

The lower cost range extender pack that is widely available would be the far bigger prize if they can pull it off.

Tomorrow we get to see their latest feat!

Yes, the temporary swap with an extended range pak will be the announcement. Tesla isn't cobbled together like a Fisker or Volt.

This makes the most sense - and fits best with the current tech and biz trajectories.

Think of it as the "road trip" prep-pack. Like renting a tent. Return it when you are done.

But, again, that rectangular space in the frunk sure looks like it wants to be stuffed with sumptin.

Re: rectangular space... or a 2nd drivetrain for AWD model

Mark K

In the Reuters video (right at the end), Elon states that you do not need to get out of your car for the swaps and implies that it will be done by a machine in less than 2 minutes. It is hard to imagine how a secondary range pack gets put in the frunk without getting out of the car to open the frunk. I guess a robot could open the frunk, but seems very unlikely. It is not 100% lethal to the frunk idea, but fits much better with main pack swapping. I sure hope I am wrong.

The way Elon made the comparison to switching a laptop battery with referencing 30 seconds and smilingly saying that with a machine the MS swap could be "pretty fast", my guess the whole drive-through and swap together can be done in 30 seconds or less.
Can't wait to see the video...

@Mark, no offense, but I think you have gotten yourself so wedded to your idea (admittedly a very clever one) of a swappable Al-air auxiliary pack that no amount of evidence will persuade you it's not going to happen. I could go back to the video and pull out some quotes, but I doubt they would change your mind. If you listen to the entire interview, you would have to think Elon has an enormous trick up his sleeve in order to believe this is anything other than what it seems: a machine that can change your (main) battery very fast, without requiring you even to get out of the car.

These machines will be deployed at supercharger stations, rolled out over time, depending on demand. Assuming that around 200 are eventually deployed, their cost will be $250,000-$500,000 each (i.e., $50 million - $100 million total; unclear whether this amount includes battery inventory). If we assume that the battery swapped in will be as good as the battery swapped out, the owner may have to pay only for the electricity -- probably around $10 -- similar to they way you swap out a barbecue gas canister at Home Depot. The more difficult question in my mind is what happens when the owner's battery is getting old and has degraded down to, say, 80%. Perhaps we will be asked to pay some sort of up front fee to participate in the program as a way of recapturing some of the program costs. This has to be kept pretty simple in order to work IMHO.

To all those saying the frunk square is for AWD, I don't buy it. It's too high up compared to the axle. In the back, the motor is on the same plane as the axle.

The problem with the frunk swap is I would have to get out of my car, remove all my luggage do the swap and repack every 150-300 miles on my 1000 mile drive to Florida... yah that sounds like fun.

1. 60kwH (initially, then variable)
2. 1
3. 250lbs
4. $4500 (pack initially--variable later on); $500 (option)
5. free
6. N/A. User swap

@GeekEV: The reason people think more space will be required for the drive-train in the front is two-fold: the front wheels also have to turn, and if you look at mock-ups of the Model X, the drive-train does take up more room.

Regarding swapping the main pack: The pack has to have two parts - the dry part with the cells, and the wet part that cools the cells. It seems like it would be easier to swap just the dry part with the cells - than to swap the entire pack. How many drips of coolant would it take to spoil Elon's demo if the swap involves breaking/making coolant connections? Now, it could be some excellent engineering with the coolant connections, but if there was another way, I would prefer it.

@GeekEV - Have you not seen the pictures of the AWD Skateboard on the Model X page?

Check it out. The motor is above the axles. Like EcLectric says, those wheels have to steer the vehicle as well. ;-)

I agree with DouglasR, it will be a main pack swap and the cost will be minimal.


Doug and mdemetri - staying in your car, and doing it by machine can apply to either approach.

The frunk can be opened remotely over the Internet, so that wouldn't rule out automated install of a range pack in the frunk. And it's easier to build a servo to move 100 lbs than a thousand.

The only thing I'm wedded to ... is logic. If they are able to do it, a lightweight, low cost sku stocked in many locations will do much more to help TM's future.

Time and place utility is the prime directive for EV adoption. And efficient use of capital is a TM culture must.

That will drive their strategy, and that is why they would choose Al Air range packs if they can pull it off. Maybe they've done it, maybe not. Tomorrow we'll know.

I didnt see the video. I fully expected to see you quote a clear statement from Elon that explicitly refers to the main pack, and that would have settled it for me. But you didn't.

Instead, what is conspicuously absent is that he apparently didn't actually say your main pack would be swapped. He let you assume what you want to believe. Elon is very good at stoking interest by suspenseful teasing, and then surprising with delightful drama.

That is why this is such bloody good fun.


"An engineer is the closest thing in the real world to a magician."

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