Battery Swap Shortsighted

Am I the only one that thinks this battery swap thing is going to cost way too much money and only be possibly useful for the next few years?

They're going to sink all this money into swap stations and then in a few years when superchargers get down to ~5 minutes for a mostly full charge, they're going to be totally useless holes in the ground.

This must just be a marketing thing.

"just" a marketing thing?

Marketing is important. Try to sell cars without marketing.

This is part of relentlessly removing any and all arguments against electric cars.

100 swap stations spread around the country would cost $50 million spread over at least 4 years. GM spent 3 billions on marketing last year alone, even if this was purely marketing it would be cheap. Apart from straight swaps this also future proofs cars by allowing battery upgrades to 85 today and potentially far higher in the future. Considering the "a fill up takes longer then gas" is one of the last humps to EV acceptance the marketing potential of having these stations is ENORMOUS.

Yes, I think you *are* the only that thinks the battery swap is shortsighted.

While I too think that most will prefer "free" over "fast" at the Supercharger Corral, I think that this development will result in mass orders of the Model X from fleets, such as taxi companies and municipalities which run a car all around three shifts a day. Without such battery-swap stations, they might be reluctant to switch over to eCars.

The Model S isn't quite as suitable for fleets, except as executive cars or rentals. Though we might see some Model S as unmarked cars for speed traps....

They should license the swap stations to fleet owners. Imagine a NYC taxi fleet with in house battery swapping, the running savings could be staggering.

Let's not forget one major economic benefit of swapping. Cost. Let me explain.

If I charge to 90% at home and drive 100 to 150 miles a day, the 85 kW battery pack is being treated well.

On a vacation, I might charge to 100% and run the pack down to near zero. I rather use the Tesla Station pack.

My original pack will last longer if I swap during the cross country trips. That saves money.

Tesla can significantly reduce their costs of supplying these packs even if they are used heavily by selling them for stationary storage use once their utility as EV batteries becomes impaired. The hire costs then only needs to cover the difference between the buy and sell costs of the packs and the costs associated with building and maintaining the stations.

I'll be paying for swaps on my future road trips.

I own a P85. I love this news.

I was a bit disappointed since I had expected a battery leasing/rent option along with the battery swapping announcement.

By paying an monthly fee you could have a guaranteed battery capacity of say >75% and be able to use the swap stations. The packs in the stations would have a capacity of >75%. The downside is that your pack will have from 75-100% capacity. This, I think, would be acceptable for most people and when the battery capacity goes up to 120 kWh and above this will not be an issue.

I guess Tesla might put in some restrictions on range-mode charging for these owners to have more control of the degradation on the circulating packs.

The packs with <75% could be used in the grid, in supercharger stations etc.

I hope Tesla would implement this. That would make it really convenient.

Elon stated that if there is was demand for swapping, it would be rolled out nationally. They are going to test market first in CA. They they may roll out nationally. Having that option is a good thing.

@kristian.skogstroem....the battery leasing option may be pretty good idea for city dwellers who live in condos/apartments that do not have a convenient way to charge their Teslas. Instead of charging the batteries their cars they get it done at the battery swap whenever they are low on charge........

I don't think he specifically said that ALL Tesla stations will have battery swap capabilities. I think that would be an unwise investment. However for heavily trafficked locations (such Barstow) this might be utilized at a rate that justifies its cost.

In any case, as others have mentioned, the cost of doing 20 of these is still worth it for the marketing benefits and as a foil to the time factor argument. When someone says "yes, but it takes so much time...", this will be the answer. Of course, they could say "but it's only available in such and such locations". But then, you'd say "in those other locations, I'll wait the 20 min. and get it for free."

As a "marketing gimmick", it's worth hundreds of millions.


@kristian.skogstroem....the battery leasing option may be pretty good idea for city dwellers who live in condos/apartments that do not have a convenient way to charge their Teslas. Instead of charging their cars themselves, they get it done at a battery swap station whenever they run low of charge........

EDIT :))))

Personally, I would have preferred that they sink the money into more supercharger stations....

If the battery swap is effecient and quick they could take advantage of partnering with Delta Sonic or Sheets stations saving the cost of full out new infrastructure. Also consider the cost of the car if you don't have to buy or worry about replacing the battery. Like Blue Rhino the battery belongs to Tesla. You own the energy. Upgrades are simple, one battery size is used, recycling is automatic. I say this is the way forward. Ask yourself, almost every other battery operated device you have except a cell phone has a changeable battery. No need for innovation here just building out or contracting with trained battery swap stations.

I agree that this is a wonderful advance for EVs and will be used by long-distance travelers who don't want to wait, even 20min, to get recharged. It's great to have the choice. I have a P85 and I'm very happy they've introduced this option/technology.

That being said, I fully expect the stock price to drop significantly this (Friday) morning. $500k per station is a hefty increase in the SC costs. Earnings per share will take a major hit as a result, since adoption of this option will be slow. Bracing for a hopefully temporary dip here.

@rd2...stock price won't drop because Elon was careful to say the swap stations will be rolled out based on demand..........

" ~5 minutes for a mostly full charge"

Ever heard of I^2 R losses?... not physically possible. To send even only 40 kWh into a 400v battery in 5 minutes is ~6000 amps... unless the model S was designed with superconducting battery cables that won't happen.

@nicknike What production car have you ever driven that has a 700 mile range on a single tank? The Prius and my old civic hybrid have about 400 mile range, and that is considered very good.

If you think you're ever going to find a luxury car that goes 700 miles on a tank, you're a customer that will never be satisfied.

In fact, based on this thread, I think Tesla will beat ICE's on range in the relatively near future.

Elon did the supercharger station announcement prior to the swap demo to cement the fact there will be a complete (and free) nationwide SC network, and he said more stalls and/or stations will be added as usage/demand indicates.

One day in the future, if TM's battery management technology is successful in practically eliminating degradation concerns, superchargers may seem outdated, with swapping being the primary "recharge" method on trips.


It's been a while since my engineering undergrad/grad days, so correct me if I'm wrong:

On a recent experience with the Barstow supercharger (nominally 90 kW) I got about 40 kWh in the battery in 30 min. That's operating at 355V and 182 Amps (64.6 kW actual - I just checked the photo I took at the time to confirm).

To do it in 1/2 the time (15 min), you would have to double the current to 360 Amps. This would increase the I^2 R heating loss by a factor of four.

to do it in 7 min (or about 1/4 of the time), you need 4x the current, or 720 Amps, and it would result in 16x the heating and loss with the same cables. If you made the cables twice as thick, though, you would reduce the resistance "R" by 2^4, or 16x - mostly compensating for the additional I^2R resistive heating problems.

Or to come at it differently, to put 40 kWh in the battery in 1hr means you need to supply 40 kW. 30 min would require 80kW (this is the nominal range of the 1st gen superchargers). 15 min would need 160 kW, and 7 min would need 320kW. 320,000W/400V = 800 Amps. I'm not sure where you got 6000 Amps from. I think your calcs might have been similar, but off by a factor of 10.

Sorry if my memory of electrical engineering is wrong. I'm a doctor now, and I haven't even thought about engineering since 2002.

The point of that whole post being that I don't disagree with the thread's primary point that it is technically feasible to supercharge at a speed that will incrementally and margnially reduce the appeal of battery swapping as time goes on.

The flip side of that, though: As battery capacities increase, the time to supercharge larger batteries increases, making swaps marginally more attractive than supercharging.

One way to look at this is solving the problem not of range anxiety, but of wait anxiety. As more Teslas hit the roads, the risk of showing up at a SC station and finding 5 cars waiting ahead of you will deter many from travel. Knowing that if worst comes to worst you can pay to swap will ease that anxiety considerably.

But there's another key point - and the math here is surprising. If there's just a 25% excess of dema nd over capacity for SC, a line will build that could easily, over a few hours, extend to an hour plus wait before you can even plug in. But if just one in four Tesla owners have the mentality that if they can't supercharge right away then they will pay for the swap, that eliminates the excess demand problem, and the lines will never build up as long. So every Tesla owner benefits from this, even if they never use the swap.


Absolutely correct. I'm not sure why people seem to be having difficulty grasping the concept of long wait times. There are approx. 10K Teslas on the road today. There will likely be 60 to 80,000 on the road within 3 years and possibly several hundred thousand a few years after that. The more popular stations MAY scale up to double or triple capacity over the next few years. But Tesla's primary ambition is increasing coverage rather than usage of any particular station. There WILL be congestion at some of the more popular charge points. And the naysayers will change their tunes when faced with long waits to get at the chargers.

I do not have the supercharging facility turned on on my car. The primary reason was that I did not think it was worth the risk of taking my car on a long trip with my two young children and risk being stuck in the middle of nowhere for an hour or two waiting to access a charger. I may have to reevaluate with the battery swap option. As you said, even if I never use it, the fact that the option is there makes the supercharging option more valuable.

Does anybody knows how much it will cost to swap the battery?
A fair price should be essential for this to work.

Nice Marketing idea to appease the newbies and of course it is cool tech. However I would rather see the funds used to expand the Supercharger Network and/or accelerate Gen 3 rollout. Battery improvements over the next 5-7 years will make this concept redundant.
Max Bob

The cost according to ELon will be 10 gallons of gas equivalent in your market segment. It could mean that swapping the battery in CA is more expensive than in other states where gas prices are lower?

The email that I got from Tesla when the battery swap demo video was up said, "Model S battery pack sawp happens in less than half the time it takes to fill a gas tank. Costs the same." This leads me to believe it will be in the $50-$75 range.

Expecting that the rate of supercharging is going to get down to about 5min any time soon (if ever) is a bigger gamble than the swapping. The cells can only take so much juice.

A different chemistry or architecture will be needed, which is a complete redesign that would be at least 7 to 10 years down the road (which is a generous assumption on my part, at least to those of us not working in the relevant battery tech areas), and Tesla seems to be sticking to thei tried-and-true safety, efficiency and cost-effectiveness of their custom Panasonic 18650 Li-ion cells.

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