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Fast Charging & Battery Swap Announcements 4 & 5 of the Trilogy

I have a theory that goes something like this:

Announcement 4:

Tesla announces about the Superchargers. Lots of new stations announced.

Announcement 5:

1. Tesla announces battery swap for 60's for 85kWh batteries at Service Center before/during big road trips. This is a service that will hardly get used since most people will be able to use a Supercharger, but will offer 1 minute swap with appointment. Each Service Center will only need to maintain a few large packs since the demand will be mild.

2. They couple this "faster than a fill-up" recharge with 120kWh charging so that Supercharge fill times drop significantly.

3. The cost of swap service will be complimentary for anyone with a service plan and some nominal amount if you choose to pay on a per use basis.


A. Tesla said in SEC-filing for Q2 "our capability to rapidly swap out the Model S battery pack and the development of specialized public facilities to perform such swapping, which do not currently exist but which we plan to introduce in the NEAR future." [Emphasis added]

B. 120 kwh charging has already been baked in.

C. It gives Tesla access to 7 ZEV credits instead of 4 credits per car as battery swap satisfies the fast refueling requirements.

D. Adding battery swaps at Tesla Service centers effectively triples Tesla's fast charging network. (Add all Superchargers (9) to all Service Centers (25?)

This scenario is extremely cost effective since it only requires:

1. Upgrade to vehicle software.

2. 10 battery packs per service center x 25? Service Centers x $20,000/pack = $5 Million

3. Battery swapping machine


If what you write is true, then Elon has been lying extensively and recently.

In fact, Elon has already stated that the Model S is swap-ready.

SamoSam - that article is from 2011... things change pver time.

Elon already said in a reply tweet the announcement was Supercharger related so not expecting a battery swap.

I'm expecting not hoping for 120-200 kWh charge speed.


Musk also tweeted about the "mystery announcement". Not sure why this would preclude battery swap being mystery announcement.


That didn't and Musk talked about Battery Swap as recently as 3 months ago.

I do see the possibility for the current battery to be removed and an adapter casing installed that would allow for a fast swap system with a smaller pack. I do not see this as being realistic in the near future since a smaller size would mean less miles.

If they just tell us there are more superchargers and where they'll be, that would be great. I think anything else is reading too much into Elon's love of hyperbole. Swapping isn't of interest to me and I think it is highly unlikely. Actually, instead of superchargers, if rather they focus on guide lines on backup camera and parking sensors.

Supercaps with any meaningful amount of energy would fill the car.

Hopefully this is not another creative accounting announcement. You know, if you count that you "fill up" your car at home before a long trip, then supercharge on the way, then charge overnight again at your destination, it means that you only actively spent 30 minutes "filling up" your vehicle 3 times.

I do believe that some of the battery management might have been designed too conservative (almost Brody-proof) and the announcement might have something to do with an update/tweak enabling faster charging and better battery management, giving owners more range and slightly faster charging.

@Brian H

Refer to the table about 1/2 way down the page.

Graphene supercapacitor energy density: 85 Wh/kg. In order to store a full 85KWh Tesla battery's worth of charge, it would wiegh 1000kg, or one metric ton. You could maybe get away with half of that, but then you would only be storing the charge for half a Tesla battery.

You could have some configuration of 40kWh supercap, weighing approx 500lb, and an 85 kWh Tesla battery. The Tesla battery is thermally limited to charge, aparrently, at 120kW. If the superchargers were upgraded to 240kW output (or greater), you could charge your Tesla battery at 120kW to, say, 1/2 charge simultaneously charging up your supercap with the extra supercharger power output... Then, after driving away, the supercap could transfer the charge over to the more stable storage of the Tesla battery.

Altogether, as compared to just filling up completely with 120kW supercharger, it would drop your zero-to-full charge time from about 40 min at 120kW to, figure, 20 min. In many scenarios, your battery would have some charge left in it, so it might take you only, say, 10 min to get to 1/2 charge on the battery and charge the rest onto the supercap. I have to admit, this brings the charging times down to par with a gasoline engine in most scenarios (except, still, long road trips when you drain the battery closer to empty).

When you consider the significantly reduced range that would result from carrying the weight of a graphene supercapacitor - even a theoretically ideal one - I don't think it makes sense.

I think Elon Musk and the men and women at Tesla did a fantastic job engineering this machine. My guess is that any of the recommended upgrades by the folks here would likely break down upon detailed engineering analysis... which is why they didn't include them in the car to begin with.


I saw a shipment of those same crates at the Costa Mesa service center about a month ago when I went in to have my main rear view mirror fixed (It snapped off while I was adjusting it).

Anyway, they were using the exact same one-man forklift to load about three crates just like those onto a small trailer towed by a F350 or some such truck. They were obviously shipping them OUT of the costa Mesa Service center... to where, I don't know, and certainly not in large quantities, since they could only load three of them on the back of this trailer. It definitely didn't look like a large-scale commercial operation. It took five guys almost an hour of sitting on one end of the crate to keep it balanced on the teeth of the forklift - since they weren't long enough to get under the center of gravity of the crate. There were a lot of yells and stops and starts as these super-heavy crates kept trying to move in ways the movers didn't want them to.

If these are Tesla batteries, as they seem to be... The Costa Mesa service center doesn't seem to have the custom equipment to even be moving them around on their lot with any efficiency - they're using a cheap, non-purpose-built handtruck/fork lift. I doubt they have the facilities to be swapping them in and out of cars in a minute or two.

Look up the definitions of gravimetric and volumetric. Wh/kg doesn't take account of the much larger space supercaps take up. That is, they're lighter. Think of them as big electron balloons. They would fill the car.

Have you actually been to a service center (generic tools and lifts) or looked at the bottom of a Model S and inspected how the battery is installed? I have done that. The idea that it can be fast-swapped is just CRAZY.

I posted pictures of the surgery that I did on the bottom of my Models S to install a hitch (for a bike rack) - have recently done this again in the rear and to the front to install parking assist sensors.

This is not speculation - it is a BIG deal with much work to remove the Model S battery. This isn't an extensive set of pictures of the battery, but in two of the pictures in my slides for the hitch install, you can see the rear of the battery, including empty screw holes IN THE BATTERY perimter where the rear body work ATTACHES TO THE BATTERY. This is IN ADDITION to the perimeter bolts and caulk holding the battery in place as a structural member of the underbody.

Elon isn't lying and I have not seen anywhere that he says the battery in the CURRENT car can be hot-swapped (you referenced years-old speculation in the development/prototype phase - this may have been explored but it was dropped).

You can see the rear end of the battery in two of my photos here:

You can see better pictures of the battery and the bolts to which I refer (although you can't see the caulk or glue, not sure which it is, but it is slightly oozing out between the battery and the mounting points on my car) in the Edmunds chassis walk-around located here:

Look down the page for the full battery pictures - you can clearly see that there are at LEAST 27 separate bolts and screws that must be removed to get the battery off, ASSUMING that it can be done without also removing the front and rear underbody access panels, which I doubt, given that's how you access the battery wiring connectors. If I recall correctly, that's another couple dozen attachment points that I had to remove to get to the place where I could install the hitch. After replacing a (thousand-pound?) battery, you'd then have to re-tourque all of the mounting bolts to spec and have someone test the torque specs again (at least three touches PER BOLT during installation alone).

No TM service center is ever going to have the capability or staffing to do this job as an in-service power source swap in under a couple hours (did you say in under a minute SamaSam?). LOOK at the pictures. Those are real bolts with real torque specifications.

Routine battery swapping (except to repair/replace) is speculation - and in my experience and opinion, it isn't going to happen.

@Pungoteague_Dave : what about a HW upgrade to replace all those bolts with some other quick-release system? Is it possible?
Or maybe this is being developed for the 2014 Model S...

SamoSam sir, just for the record you can't have part 4 and 5 of a trilogy. As the name assumes trilogy is made of three parts.


Maybe they could replace the bolts with quick release attachment points. I am not an engineer, just a retired banker, backyard garage mechanic, and part time academic. For that reason and many others, rereading my posts above, I come across as too authoritative and definitive. I could definitely be wrong despite the ill-advised caps. However, as I understand it, the battery is a key part of the Model S body structure, including much of the torsional rigidity. This has been reported and discussed extensively. It is also obvious from inspecting the battery, that while removable, it is attached firmly in multiple location, and for a reason.

I have not seen a quick release method that would provide enough torque to do what the existing battery fixment bolts accomplish, but suppose it is possible. Still, given the number of bolts, I would not want to rely on a fast-change operation in any case. Because the battery is also the car's structure backbone, missing or improperly torquing one or two bolts could be a disaster. I once had a BMW shop screw up a simple oil filter installation, with two gaskets where there should have been one, costing them plenty to fix. The Model S battery is too big, with several types of fasteners fastening it to the car, and attaching plastic panels to it, for any machine to be able to completely automate a swap (only in my limited judgment).

At the factory tour, we were told that the battery is the very last thing attached to the car, and that the main reason for that is to allow rapid swapping in the future .... Just sayin'.

wheatcraft, I am sure that's correct, as the battery is a service item. However, it is completely factual that there are more than a couple dozen bolts AND that some (at least two and I think four) of the underbody panels are screwed TO the battery AFTER the battery is installed. This isn't speculation, as I have personbaly removed the rear screws holding the rear valance panel to the battery twice, and the front crews once.

resounding +1 Pungoteague_Dave

Announcement will be faster charging. Faster then expected deployment of supercharger network too. Might announce 30-40 more (Europe included) by fall.

round numbers:

120KW Supercharger
120KWh Accupack (since the 40ies has killed)
120 SC in different countries USA-Canada-europe incl. east-westcoast-travel

thanks ;-)

Maybe that they can now charge at much faster rates ... say 240kW. If you charge up a cell phone you can get (at least mine) a half charge in about 10 minutes.
I am no expert at this subject and correction is requested if wrong.
Maybe Tesla now feels comfortable doing the same thing. If you had a step down transformer in built in to the car then the connection hardware may not need to be any beefier because the amps would be the same but the voltage higher. Then it is just a software change - 40kW (or about 130 miles) in 10 minutes is pretty fast.

Faster charging or swapping won't help if there are no stations along your route. I hope he announces the location of lots of new SCs.


I agree with you that the current Model S battery is bolted in so extensively that battery swapping is highly unlikely. What if the June 20 announcement and live demo uses the Model X though? Seems like Tesla has plenty of opportunity to re-engineer swapping capabilities for an as-yet-unreleased model.

Counting the hours till Thursday evening!

@Xerogas - Elon has already tweeted that swapping works with all Model S cars, past and present. "It was always there."

Even better!

I've been at a service center during a swap. It's not simple or quick. Lots of bolts, electrical connections and the liquid cooling connections. Some fluid leaks when the pack is pulled and the system has to be filled, pressurized and maybe bled of air like brakes. It takes significant time to uncrate them and lift them with a crane/lift device they have. There is a lot of labor involved. I can't see any way the current car with the current battery could be swapped in a minute, or 5 or 30, unless there is significant modification to the pack and the car.

Agree, there has to be a twist in here somewhere. Hard for it to be a straight pack drop of the main Li- Ion battery unless they're using bolts we don't know about. Too much of a mess. If would have to be one fast, smart, and expensive robot to do the swap unless it's just a guy named Tim.

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