Recently-resigned Tesla Motors engineering chief Michael Donoughe revealed an interesting tidbit of information on his way out the door. Speaking to Green Car Advisor, Donoughe said that the Model S has been designed to accommodate fast (sub-five minutes) battery swaps. While a quick battery exchange has implications for how the car would be received and used in the real world, Donoughe said that it also helps at the factory when the car is assembled. "As long as you're designing for manufacturing and assembly you can also design for manufacturing, assembly and swap. That's basically what we're looking to do," he told GCA.
Tesla's design "is not at all wedded to Better Place," Donoughe said, referring to the biggest proponent of battery swap technology. The two companies' technologies could work together, he said, but don't have to. Considering that Tesla is planning on selling the Model S, due in late 2011, with different battery options (a base model with 160-mile range pack; and then more expensive packs with 230-mile and 300-mile ranges), figuring out how to swap these different batteries in random locations seems like a logistics problem of tremendous proportions.