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Swapping will take 90secs....Return the pack on your journey back or keep it & we'll bill you the difference

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I'm very confused! Why would Elon think this was a good idea? If those battery swap stations are located where the Superchargers are, why on earth would I want to pay for this service when I can just charge my own battery in about 30 minutes?

If they'd install these stations in cities or near scenic areas (like the NPs) I could understand their thinking - but this approach doesn't make any sense to me.

riceuguy, JamesM,

If it is $99 you get the swap on the way and then you get the swap on the way back for free. (of course you are just picking up your battery but that is easier to compare to the cost of gas.)

I have no problem with the 40kwh vehicle owners having the option of paying a fee, say $180 to have a weeks access to 60kwh of battery capacity, they wouldn't even need to swap out battery obviously, and if they find the extra range useful they could pay the fee and have it permanently unlocked, you could even take the rental fee off the unlock fee if they choose not to go back.

OK. There is no 40kWh battery pack anymore. So I'm not sure why you guys are talking about it. Whether the 40's can pay a fee for this service is irrelevant to the future sales of MS's because the option is defunct. It is a valid argument for the 60's.

Also, has anyone actually heard of a 120kWh battery pack, or are you just hoping that one will be developed? I know that Elon said that 50% improvement in battery performance is "pretty much baked in" to the progress of battery technology over the next 10 years, but does such an animal actually exist?

Did Elon mention whether or not the battery you left behind would be recharged for you when you get it back? I would assume that it would. This could make it far more compelling as I assume you don't have to pay a swap fee to get your battery back, so you get two recharges, not just one for the price of the swap. If you stop to swap 250 miles into your trip, it doesn't sound too bad.

@JamesM: thank you!

@DouglasR You swap as many times as you need. You just get your own battery back at end of the trip back home. Sounds like a very simple and manageable plan.

Wow! I have to say, that was an impressive demonstration.

Docrob, did Elon actually say you could swap out for a different size battery? Did he say anything about a new 100, 120, or 150 kWh pack? Where are you getting this?

If you could use the swapped battery pack at superchargers the rest of your trip, that would be awesome! Such a scheme would extend the life of my 85kWh pack an additional 8 years, since I expect it to have the performance of the 60kWh pack in about 8 years. After about 16 years, I'll just have them bill me the difference on the 250kWh pack! The old packs could be used for off-grid storage applications for awhile. Hopefully it all plays out as well as it sounds!

According to that article, the fee is $60 to $80.

You pay the fee each time. When you get your rental and also when you pickup your original battery, which they recharge for you while you were gone.

So we are talking about $120 to $160 for using this process. I think I will mostly be using the Superchargers. I am not often in that much of a hurry.

No, I'm talking about the possibility that battery swapping opens up, as long as the pack is the same form factor swap stations allow you to swap in a pack of any capacity, bigger, smaller etc it gives options and versatility and that sells cars.

JamesM - thanks for the link.

I have to say the swapping looks really amazing. A real engineering feat of the first order. Hats off to Tesla; really incredible.

But looking at the video gives me some pause on the saftey of the swap. The main pack is a critical structural component; anyone have qualms about swapping your battery in this way for safety reasons?

Still not convinced about the buisness case. This looks like a pure marketing gimmick. A beautiful one, but still marketing.

Here is more info on Forbes.

50 battery packs in stations to start.

Musk said the service would be offered for the price of about 15 gallons of gas at the going local rate, but of course “it will be more convenient.” And really, that’s true since aside from the time savings, you don’t need to leave the car. The company will bill a credit car on file for the cost. If you’re making a return trip, you can pick up your pack on the way back — again fully charged — for the same “pack swap” price. That’s currently about $60-80, Musk figured. If you don’t want to make another swap, you’ll have options:

1.Keep the pack you received on the first swap. If it’s newer, Tesla will bill you for the difference, though the amount is to be determined. The warranty is the balance of the standard 8-year term, dependent on the age of the pack you received.

2.Return home on your borrowed pack and receive your original back from Tesla for a “transport fee,” which is also to be determined.

The swap packs will initially all be brand new, but Musk admitted that they will age over time so whether you get a new one or an older one will vary. You’ll always be able to get yours back one way or another.

Mdemetri, Well like any business you simply divide the costs by the number of people using it, if there are 1 million uses of the swap stations a year and the roll out costs 100 million then you need to charge $100 a swap (plus a bit for system upkeep and profit) to pay for the system over a one year period. Very rough numbers obviously but just making the point that you can make a business case for anything that depends on total costs divided by usage plus a bit for a profit margin.
Don't understand your point about safety issues, every car already has the battery attached in the same way as the cars demonstrated tonight, and it is highly likely the machine that does the swap is identical to the machine that installs the battery at the factory only installed under an opening platform with marketing decals. I guess everytime you install and uninstall a piece of hardware there is a small possibility of not reattaching it correctly however with robotic systems it is highly unlikely.

what I want to know is how long do you have to use the rented pack and return it before you need to swap back to your original pack and do you need to return to the same super charger to get the original back?

For people not seeing the business case should also consider, that currently there is only a low volume of Teslas around (compared to total # of cars).
However, the Fremont factory is supposed to allow for 500K cars/year so in 2-5 years with new models coming the amount of customers willing to pay for battery swapping is going to increase accordingly.
Also, what if SuperChargers are then becoming more allocated when you show up, so that there is actually more waiting time involved on top of your charging time.
After all, it puts some ease on mind just to know that the option could/will be there eventually.

@James - interesting. I wonder how you install it if they ship it back to you? Also, what happens if the battery you get is older than the one you give? Do you get a credit?

I liked my idea better: the Home Depot gas canister model.

Are we able to say that this battery swap technology is going to change the game? I think it is.


Re safety: At the factory, there is quality control, live people and inspection. This will not be the case at swap stations. A bolt that is under torqued, even though it may occur at a very low frequency, could lead to serious issues.

Re: the business case

The business case is to sell cars, not to make money renting batteries. I have my doubts that this will be attractive enough to sell cars, but if it is, the cost is not too great.

Douglas R, I don't think they would ship it directly back to you, I could see a Tesla truck with the body specially designed to accept batteries from swap stations into a rack, then driving those packs back to their point of origin or onto their destination. Left your pack in San Fran or at Harris Ranch because you needed to get back to LA fast and there was a queue at the supercharger? No probs, Tesla's battery distribution truck will have your precious battery back at the Hawthorne depot for your retrieval within a few days for a fee.

I will likely not get involved with battery swaps. I am not typically in a hurry for an appointment when driving over 200 miles. I would rather spend the 15-30 using the bathroom, getting a drink, letting the kids run around, chat with other Model S owners.

The important caveat to your comment JamesM is that if the battery swap stations exist you can choose whether to use them or not, if they don't you obviously can't. Even if used very little Tesla can say the technology and infrastructure exists to swap your battery faster then filling a tank, that is worth big big marketing dollars.

It's all about options and time is money - everyone has their price on what they will pay for convenience. If there are 3 teslas waiting in line for the each supercharge then maybe $60 or $80 bucks for a few min doesn't look so bad. Plus there are all kinds of stories of people leaving there cars at supercharges for hours after they are charged. When you don't get out of your car and it only takes 90 seconds each tesla even a line of 10 cars for a battery swap would be a good option. I saw it in person tonight and it was very impressive! I definitely could see myself using it occasionally.

A piece of the business model that hasn't been mentioned is the possibility of this technology being used by other auto makers in the future. As more of them start to manufacture true EVs (ground up), the natural location of the battery pack is in the floor and if they can all use this technology, they get to ease range anxiety and Tesla gets another revenue stream.

TM is anticipating a growing fleet of Its vehicles. To prevent having to build parking lots full of superchargers this will offload supercharger congestion and decrease the wait for an additional cost. It's like paying more for the special passes that let you move to the front of the line at DisneyWorld.

@Robert22 - Agreed, but that convenience is offset by the need to return to the same station to pick up your battery. You lose the flexibility (without paying a lot more money) of being able to change your plans, take an alternate route home, and exercise the kind of freedom you have with an ICE car. This freedom is something Elon talks about a lot, but I don't see it in this plan. Also, it will get pretty complex to store each battery belonging to each owner, and to serve up that battery if and when he returns at some indefinite time.

I think the technology of swapping is awesome, but the plan is far from elegant.

DouglasR +1

Regardless of its feasibility as a business model or its practicality of use in everyday life, that demo was amazing (and *impossible* to do more than dream about just a few years ago). A ~260mile range, performance luxury sedan pulls up and gets a full new range in 90 seconds? C'mon guys - that's a big step even if it doesn't make sense in the real world.

If I have an 85 kWh battery I've abused (lots of miles, lots of supercharges, lots of deep discharges) over a short period of time, then it's a no-brainer to swap it and keep the replacement. According to the articles, my remaining warranty period is unchanged. So, what would the "difference fee" be? Even if a perfect measure of battery condition could be made, I imagine a regular customer would have a hard time swallowing a fee to switch out a perfectly good 85 kWh battery for another, because Tesla says the new one has lower internal resistance or fewer miles.

If the "difference fee" is only for switching a 60 kWh pack for an 85 kWh pack, with no fee charged for same pack size, then there is a perverse incentive to switch out a badly abused pack for an otherwise identical pack in better condition, for no fee. Then the switching stations end up with a pool of packs that have been ridden hard.

In my own Model S, I take good care of my battery most of the time, since even though it is under warranty for unlimited miles, I want it to last much longer than the warranty, and retain as much range as possible. If I have a temporary swap battery, then I have neither incentive to take good care of it.

The technical demo works, but the business case doesn't.

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