Tesla shows Sexy Battery Swapping Faster than Gassing Up

Elon Musk how Tesla will swap batteries
Elon Musk how Tesla will swap batteries

Just when you thought Tesla couldn’t surprise you anymore, Elon Musk and his team devised a way to please almost anyone with an electric car. How about swapping that battery pack faster than it takes to fill a gasoline tank?

It’s hard to imagine how far and how quickly electric vehicle, EV have come in just five measly years. The juggernaut electric car is becoming more convenient and with every breakthrough, naysayers are finding less to say. Tesla has taken a definite bite out of the range anxiety myth. How will car makers react?

Fast Charge versus Battery Swapping. It’s hard to imagine that not so long ago we debated whether electric cars should come first or its charging infrastructure. The debate is moot, electric cars won. The discussion then turned to fast charging. These days with Chademo, SAE’s fast charging and Tesla’s Super Chargers, this point is also becoming moot. Still, as Elon Musk rightfully pointed out, there are those who still complain 30 minutes is too long to wait. So how about swapping your battery pack in less time it would take to fill your car with gasoline and cheaper?

Battery Swapping Made Sexy. Leave it to Tesla to make battery swapping a sexy thing. Elon Musk showed how not only one Tesla Model S can swap its battery pack faster than a regular gasoline sedan can fuel up, but how another Model S could also swap its battery pack before the sedan finished. To be fair, the gasoline sedan went slightly over 20 gallons but the point was well made. What can naysayers come back with now?

How Tesla Sees Battery Swapping. Battery swapping a la Tesla is very different from Better Place. Better Place envisaged leasing batteries and swapping them for a variety of electric cars. Tesla sees it for its Model S, X and soon to be announced entry level electric car. The difference here is not so much the technicalities. Both systems operate approximately the same way. The electric car drives in, the battery pack is dropped and replaced with a fresh new one. The difference is that you own the car and its battery pack. Your old battery pack is kept ready for you and you can retrieve it later and pay the difference in life span or keep the new one.

But what if you don’t want to swap? Tesla promises Super Chargers will always be free, period. The gist is you will have a choice between pay for a battery pack swap in less than two minutes and it will be the equivalent of filling up with gasoline — or you could charge for free in about 30 minutes or less. Do you see the paradigm shift here? This is revolutionary for electric car drivers, and hopefully for gasoline car drivers. In essence, that battery swap will cost you around $70 or so, then same it would to fill up a sedan with gasoline.

So Where Is Tesla Motors Going With This? It should not come as a surprise that the company is much more than an electric vehicle (EV) maker. The company is morphing into a full one stop house for electric car drivers, energy management and charging infrastructure. Elon Musk even hinted at selling its battery swapping technology to other car makers. And speaking of which, do automakers see where Tesla is leading them by force?

See my series of videos on YouTube where Elon Musk presents the technology, as well as the media meeting afterward. It is uncut, and unedited but you will understand just where Tesla is heading.

Car makers had to deal with cars becoming computers on wheels. Now Tesla is showing them what thinking outside the box really means. Tesla is the beginning of a new type of car/charge/energy management company that will continue to lead a brand new automobile market into frontiers never dreamt of before. What Tesla showed this evening was that you could stop for thirty minutes and charge your Tesla electric car for free, or have time for two text messages while your battery pack is being swapped.

Nicolas Zart
Born and raised around classic cars, it wasn't until Nicolas drove an AC Proulsion eBox and a Tesla Roadster that the light went on. Eager to spread the news about those amazing full torque electric vehicles, he started writing about this amazing technology and its social impacts in 2007. Today, Nicolas covers renewable energy, test drives cars, does podcasts and films. Nicolas offers an in-depth look at the e-mobility world through interviews and the many contacts he made in those industries. His articles are also published on Teslrati, CleanTechnica, the Beverly Hills Car Club and Medium. "There are more solutions than obstacles." Nicolas Zart