After last night's initial public demo of the Tesla Model S battery swap, we attended a small press conference with Tesla CEO Elon Musk where he answered questions about the program. You can get the early details about the swap stations in our first post and then dive into our back and forth with Tesla, below. You can also scroll down to see a video of the battery swap process in action, if you're more of a visual learner.

Question: Will owners need to make a reservation for a battery swap?

Answer: No reservations are needed. Each of the swap sites will be stocked with enough batteries to cover demand.

Question: How many battery packs will be available at each location?

Answer: That depends purely on how frequently the station is used. For the most part, expect a swap station to stock about 50 batteries. However, busy corridors will have more and less popular stations will have fewer. The quantity will basically align proportionally with the number of Supercharger units at the station.

Question: Are the batteries at the stations all brand-new?

Answer: They will be brand-new at first. But as owners use them, they will obviously have recharging cycles on them. Each will be monitored for optimal performance, so the customer won't have to worry about that.

Question: How much does it cost to upgrade a charging station to allow battery swapping?

Answer: It costs about $500,000 per site, and that includes digging the pit, construction and hardware. The electrical capacity is already on site (supplying energy to the Superchargers).



Question: When will the first battery swap station be online?

Answer: Expect the first station in California, in the fourth quarter of this year.

Question: How will owners pay for the battery swap?

Answer: Credit card information will be on file, so the transaction will be quick and seamless.

Question: Will the batteries in the upcoming Model X also have swapping capabilities?

Answer: Yes, the Model S and Model X will have the ability to universally swap batteries.

Question: The batteries are not only connected electrically with the vehicle, but they are liquid cooled. How will that affect the automatic battery swap?

Answer: That was another technological hurdle that needed to be overcome during the engineering process. In the end, a system was designed that allowed the fluid couplings to be disconnected/reconnected without any fluid loss whatsoever.

Question: Will we see third-party battery swap stations in the future?

Answer: Tesla plans on selling the technology to other companies in the future, so there is a good chance of seeing independent stations in various parts of the country.

Question: How was the battery-swap technology developed?

Answer: The process was challenging, as each of the nuts on the battery require precision torque as they are installed, but Tesla was able to take some technology off the assembly floor and mix it with new processes to make the operation smooth and seamless to the customer.

Tesla Model S Battery Swap Demonstration


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  • 182 Comments
      Avinash Machado
      • 2 Years Ago
      A great,hands on CEO.
      • 2 Years Ago
      With Project Better Place on the ropes, I wonder if they have worked with PBP, are licensing the technology, possibly even some sort of merger? Anyone know if there's a Better Place connection here?
        GasMan
        • 7 Months Ago
        Why would Tesla throw money into the Better Place pit when they have everything they need without them?
          Pj Taintz
          • 7 Months Ago
          @GasMan
          the car body for the karma is beautiful, but the execution and backing fell out. If tesla bought fisker only to reuse the body with tesla underpinnings that would be well worth it. much cheeper than designing a new car from scratch and as i said it is beautiful.
          m_2012
          • 7 Months Ago
          @GasMan
          Exactly. Thats like everyone saying Tesla should buy Fisker. Its pointless and gets them nothing.
        Rotation
        • 7 Months Ago
        Musk claims that he invented this and Better Place copied him. No joke. He tweeted this. Musk mentions their system uses nut runners, which are large jigs designed to fasten and unfasten nuts all at once. This is not like Project Better Place's system, so likely Tesla didn't need to get any tech from Project Better Place to do this.
        paulwesterberg
        • 7 Months Ago
        No, better place used a different system, based on how weapons are attached to the wings of military planes, to facilitate battery swapping.
      Rotation
      • 2 Years Ago
      Transmission pans don't have drain plugs because the failure rate on plugs is so high compared to the need for it that it reduces reliability to have one. Taking it off saves on warranty costs, which makes the car cheaper by more than the $0.30 cost of the plug.
      paulwesterberg
      • 2 Years Ago
      My guess is that they are scared to reduce the oil reservoir size because leaking 1qt could kill your engine if it only holds 2qts.
      Nick
      • 2 Years Ago
      Question: Why would one pay $100 to swap his battery, when he can wait 15 min and have his own fully charged?
      purrpullberra
      • 2 Years Ago
      Oh yeah, the pending law in New York was tabled earlier tonight and so Tesla doesn't face that until next January at the earliest.
        Grendal
        • 7 Months Ago
        @purrpullberra
        The old "let's push it back since we got caught being sneaky and hope that this all blows over so we can pass it quietly" political trick.
          Grendal
          • 7 Months Ago
          @Grendal
          Tabled doesn't mean that it went away. It means that they will look at it at a later time. Next Jan. according to purpullberra.
          archos
          • 7 Months Ago
          @Grendal
          Its not coming back. There was no support for it now, which is why it didn't pass. Time won't make it more popular.
      m_2012
      • 2 Years Ago
      The quick disconnects are never exposed to air. Think hydraulic fittings, same thing.
      Joeviocoe
      • 7 Months Ago
      Tesla has already showed us that they are paying for the supercharging network by rolling the costs into the purchase price of every Model S / X.... They can sell the electrons for free, since the 'recurring costs' are so low. With Swap stations, this is likely to be the same model. Slightly higher 'recurring/operational costs' warrant that each swap cost $60-$80 to cover those expenses. But the initial capital (your $2.2mil per station with 50 packs each) assuming Tesla pays $400/kwh. ... is covered with a premium to the purchased vehicles themselves. Tesla plans on selling 20,000 per year (over the next few years). That is $110 per car sold for every station. So if Tesla builds 20 stations in key locations nationwide.... That is $2,200 per car... paid off in the FIRST Year. Or, more reasonably... $750 premium on every car sold, for the next 3 years will pay off the cost of the entire swap network. Now, as a potential Tesla owner... that is a HELL YEAH, I am willing to pay that just to have the expansive capability to swap. Plus the resale value of a brand that has a swap network in place. THAT IS A BUSINESS MODEL. Plus, over time, $300/kwh or less is feasible.
      Electron
      • 2 Years Ago
      Meanwhile the New York State Legislature is working on a little announcement of its own. It would appear that soon it will be illegal to register cars that weren't bought from franchised dealer in the state of New York. http://www.greencarreports.com/news/1084963_new-york-auto-dealers-try-to-make-registering-tesla-cars-illegal-breaking Tesla is incredibly innovative but also incredibly disruptive. No doubt vested interests in the car and oil industry are monitoring what Telsa is doing with great interests. While Tesla announces one clever innovation after the other they are researching innovative ways to throw spanners in its works. Looks like they are increasingly succeeding.
        Letstakeawalk
        • 7 Months Ago
        @Electron
        " It would appear that soon it will be illegal to register cars that weren't bought from franchised dealer in the state of New York." That's not at all a correct interpretation. It's the Tesla *Stores* that wouldn't be allowed to be licensed. "A pair of bills in the New York State Legislature, backed by New York state auto dealers, would make it illegal to license or renew licenses for Tesla stores within the state."
        Basil Exposition
        • 7 Months Ago
        @Electron
        New Jersey should offer to regiser New Yorkers' Teslas in their state. NJ gets the registration fees and the owner gets to circumvent this assinine and backward law.
        nomadsto
        • 7 Months Ago
        @Electron
        My God, and I thought lawyers were bad. New-car dealers behave like some kind of mafia syndicate, wielding more power than the entire auto industry itself. When are we going to wake up and put a muzzle on these foxes guarding the henhouse. How much cheaper would a new car be without these middle men who contribute nothing more to the process then then OEM could on its own.
        Grendal
        • 7 Months Ago
        @Electron
        The dealers are really going about this the wrong way. Sooner or later the public will get into an uproar about it. The general public already hates the two things that the Dealership Associations are doing. One is the dealerships themselves, and two, backroom politics. Those two things are destined to turn the buying public against them.
          purrpullberra
          • 7 Months Ago
          @Grendal
          The general public is too stupid to do anything. Smart people have to do it all on their own. Ballots work. So do bulle.... well, you know. :) Why won't anyone ever go and whoop it up at a dealership instead of at a school or movie theater? ***What is wrong with our insane people today? *** With all the people begging for it and who deserve it, why do they keep killing innocent folks? Would anyone even care if it happened at a dealership? That's why I don't get it. Someone might be able to get away with it at a dealership. I hope with all my heart... that someone at least tries.
        purrpullberra
        • 7 Months Ago
        @Electron
        What decent people need to do is try everything to put dealerships out of business. Waste their time at the dealership. Keep going back and have fun with it. Pretend you really want to buy. Do this at every dealership. And the dealership I used to go to is reading my letter of why they will never see me again. I told the if they want my business that they need to write letters too and get results and then show me the results and letters they get back. It's not going to happen but they know why I'm not coming back again. So annoy and alienate dealerships and their awful employees who are ALL PART OF THE PROBLEM NOW. No one deserves a job with people who want to put Tesla out of business. Everyone involved with owning or working at a dealership deserves to have their lives ruined because of this grotesque treatment of no-good franchise laws. At this point I want to do away with all dealership protections. I am going to do everything I can to make that happen. Dealerships and everyone involved with them must be dealt with in the most harsh manner available today. You know what I mean by this. It seems to me NADA wants war and I want to war against them. Hold every dealership you've ever visited to higher standards than they are personally capable of. Make them understand what they are trying to ruin and also what they are supposedly trying to save. It will be clear to everyone with a working brain that all dealerships should be forced out of business for the simple reason that they think they have the right to force Tesla out of its business. Rotten worthless tools respond in 1, 2, and.....
        m_2012
        • 7 Months Ago
        @Electron
        Big oil is doing everything they can. Instituting taxes on EV's and now this.
          SublimeKnight
          • 7 Months Ago
          @m_2012
          This isn't big oil, this is big dealership networks. They're not fans of cars they can't get a cut of and don't require constant maintenance.
          pmpjunkie01
          • 7 Months Ago
          @m_2012
          And next they'll find out how easy it is to buy a Tesla at the end of the tunnel. Let's see if New York politicians are greedy and short sighted enough to go any further with this.
      markrogo
      • 2 Years Ago
      Just to clarify, since I was at the presser after the event: The batteries in Gen III will be different from Model S/X. They won't be interchangeable because the floorpan/wheelbase will be different. Elon basically said -- not in so many words, but he basically said -- "we don't know if people will want/need this for Gen III". In effect, if people do, they will adapt the SuperSwappers to support Gen III. If they don't, they won't. The "new Roadster", as far as I know, is on the Tesla roadmap still, but after the Gen III SUV. So it's the 4th car from here... It's a Gen III platform vehicle if it comes to fruition. Given the current timetable for Gen III, however, that car is unlikely before 2018.
        purrpullberra
        • 7 Months Ago
        @markrogo
        That is news to me about Gen III... WOW! Thanks for that. That's the last thing I was expecting but I guess it makes sense. Wow. How much are they going to do to make as many attributes alike as they possibly can? But that's why I said $20 million earlier, I don't know that this 'whole' system is ever going to be built out. Swapping batteries may not have a lot of draw outside of a few hard core drivers or a few heavily traveled corridors. In fact, I've had a hard time understanding how they'll justify doing this everywhere in the country. But that means a whole new robot and a different battery stack for the Gen III rollout if swapping goes forward. Hmm. As long as the supercharger equipment stays consistent I'll be happy (as a customer and shareholder) since I expect that to be doing the vast majority of the refueling for Teslas.
      Grendal
      • 7 Months Ago
      @Marco Elon's been planning this one for a long time. In this case I think it was just a coincidence that the recall happened a couple days before. Besides, the recall had a negligible effect.
      archos
      • 7 Months Ago
      And the difference will lower Tesla's tax burden. Hardly a lost. Ask the automakers spending millions on FCVs that will never go to production.
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