Why use Superchargers? Just change the batteries.

Think about it. I talked with Jason at Tesla and he said it faster to change the batteries (with proper equipment, lift, etc.) than a gas tank in a ICE. What if instead of supercharging stations you had a network of stations with batteries already charged and waiting for you to pull into a station, much like a car wash, that pulled off the old battery and replaced it with a new one, in less than a few minutes.

If you ever had an electric RC car, you know it takes 15 minutes to charge the batteries and 5 seconds to change it. I realize infrastructure would have to be put into place for this system, and a different business model, but the station could take your depleted battery and replace it with a full charged one, then charge the depleted one and once fully charged put it into another Tesla. The Tesla car itself would be 30k cheaper as you would only rent the batteries for a monthly fee and they would get properly recycled once the batteries were no longer useful.

It would work more like a battery rental than owning your battery. You would pay a fee for the use of the networked battery stations and have close to instant fill-ups. You could also simply charge overnight as normal if u desired.

I believe with the proper design, a lift system could auto replace batteries at each station very quickly. Something to think about for the future.

just and idea from a guy thinking about buying a Model X when it comes out.

On some level I have to agree with mattmorgret on this. If the average consumer knew they could "fill up" as needed in less than 5 minutes and not worry about a $12k+ battery replacement in 8-10 years, the mental bar to EV ownership would be significantly lowered. A vast number of people cannot charge at home... nearly anyone who lives in an apartment for example, and thus they will not purchase an EV as things stand. Even condo owners like myself need to be VERY proactive and motivated to get a charger installed... It took us nearly 3 months to get our level 2 charger installed and it was not a smooth process by any stretch of the imagination. And this is in CA, where 40% of US EVs live and there are laws in place requiring HOA cooperation for charger installations.

I should be picking up my car in Fremont this week or the next and will be driving it home to LA. I am still worried about being stuck waiting for 1-2 hours for an SC to free up on the trip.

All that said, I believe the existing inroads on the charge based EV infrastructure make it a much better proposition than battery swapping; but if we were starting from scratch I'd say battery swapping is the way to go.

@scriptacus - would you do it if the price to lease the battery (which has mileage limits) was far more than you would ever spend on gas? That is the case with Better Place currently.

Another problem is logistics. Given how rental car companies never have enough cars in the right cities to meet demand, how will battery swappers ever get all those packs back to where they are actually needed? Maybe with big rigs?


The cost of


swap stations would set up the entire country's SC network. Another


pays for doubling the density. Etc. unless the cost of the car was significantly less than the cost of an ICE car, paying more than gas would kill the idea. Not sure what Better Place is thinking.

@JackB: I don't see the problem. Every car that gets a battery change leaves a battery. These batteries should be charged on site in a matter of hours, ready to be placed in another car. Each station just needs to have enough initial inventory to handle their peak throughput. There should be enough stations to go to the next one if the nearest one is still charging spent batteries.

@Brian H: SCs are awesome, but they're still slow. 60 minutes to "fill up" vs. 5. That's a big deterrent for a lot of would-be adopters. They currently make EV road trips possible, but I wouldn't say they make them convenient.

Feasible you get first. Convenient takes time.

Since it would take 50-100X the capital to create a 150-mile-sep. network with battery stations than with Superchargers, watch that first step. It's a biggie.

@scriptacus - they are thinking battery swap stations and their battery inventory are expensive, and they need to get enough money to cover that investment. That is fundamentally why the idea doesn't seem to work - it is not clear that there is any scale or price where both the consumer and the supplier benefit from this arrangement.

@BrianH - I think that only counts equipment costs, as land costs and electrical service will reduce the gap. Ideally, with the SC network you could convince land owners to let you put it there free, since they will have a ready supply of customers waiting for their car to charge, but I'm sure that won't be possible for all cases.

How would electrical reduce the gap? Same number of electrons needed, either case. In fact, since Solar City is offsetting all th electric cost with matching arrays (somewhere or other), the burden of added power costs is entirely on the battery replacement side. So they increase the gap.

When Elon says there's no workable business model yet, he's not just whistlin' Dixie. He's understating the case. It's suicidal.

@BrianH - there's no reason you wouldn't use the same level of solar power for recharging the batteries at a swap station that you would at a supercharger. A hypothetical battery swap station could also spread the power required over a bit longer period, as you are unlikely to have supercharger use at 4am but you could be charging batteries then, which would mean the size of the power service you needed might be slightly smaller.

But mostly I was talking about is if (totally made up numbers) a Supercharger cost $50k for hardware and a battery swap station cost $500k, you would say the swap station costs 10 times as much. However, if you include a monthly lease payment and a monthly bill for electrical service, the total result might be the battery swap station only costs 3-4 times as much.

I have no idea why you think either or both would favour the battery shop.

IAC, you're still talking about a massive investment that shows no signs of being workable in the real world. And try $250,000 and $3,000,000 in your example. Incidentals will not change those ratios much.

Rental batterries, the principal stock and assets of the system, would also degrade (through hard use) at least twice as fast as driver-owned ones. Turnover would be huge.

Good discussion. It might all be moot if graphene batteries are around in 10 years. They can charge in seconds and have much grater storage density.

I did some research on the stuff and its pretty amazing super material with a lot of properties that will "change the world" so to speak. Tech for commercial applications is just around the corner. I heard that before though! LOL

The "charge in seconds" is workable for a cellphone. For a Model S it takes between 2 and 10MW, depending on battery size and the number of "seconds". About 6MW for an 85 in one minute. It would vaporize your UMC. ;)

Would someone please tell those 2 professors who wrote for Harvard Business School Publishing about their arrogant idea for battery swapping while putting down Tesla's model of Superchargers:

Who wants to eat crow first?


While I think the battery swap is a neat idea, as a Tesla owner, I would probably never use it. I actually love the supercharger infrastructure, and don't mind stopping for 30 minutes or so every 150 miles on road trips to eat, use bathroom, stretch, etc. I say the battery swap infrastructure would be too complicated and expensive and would rather see improved supercharging (from 90kWh to 120kWh) and more stations.

+! dougarcher....I will not use the battery swap. I will do my best to use, not abuse my battery, so I do not want one 'off the rack' even if it saves some time. Push the superchargers. If I can 'fill' my battery in 15-20 minutes that is the way I want to go and how I would like to see TM spend their money.

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