Is Tesla Planning A Battery Swap Model?

tesla-model-s-chassisEven the most doubtful haters will soon have to admit that Tesla Motors has done the unthinkable; build a better electric car. While CEO Elon Musk has already hinted at what the future holds for his electric automaker, a recent filing with the SEC revealed a twist to Tesla’s plans; battery swapping.

The idea of fast-swapping the battery out of an electric car is not new, though so far the few large-scale experiments have not been successful. Most famously Project Better Place promoted a battery-swapping scheme that had ambitions of 100,000 vehicles on the road by 2016; currently they’re selling about 100 models a month in Israel and Denmark, after pulling out of America and Australia.

In their recent SEC filing, on page 38 outlining future plans, Tesla discusses what factors may affect the adoption of electric vehicles. Specifically, the filing says that the ability to “…rapidly swap out the Model S battery pack, and the development of specialized public facilities to perform such swapping, which do not currently exist, but which we plan to introduce in the near future.”

What is Tesla thinking getting into battery swapping? Perhaps they are thinking that their Supercharger fast-charging stations just aren’t going to be enough. To truly compete with gas-powered vehicles, electric vehicles need a similar “refill” time. Battery swapping could make that possible, eliminating one of the biggest criticisms of EVs; their long recharge time.

As it stands, the Tesla Supercharger takes about 30 minutes to add 150 miles of range to the Model S, and can fully charge the 85 kWh model in just over an hour. While that is faster than any other method on the market, it is still longer than many people want to wait, and is limited by access to Superchargers.

But if battery-swapping stations were to become more prevalent around major metro areas, well, that could change the whole EV dynamic, and perhaps make battery leasing another option for Model S owners.

Elon has already taken a lot of risks with Tesla, and most of them have paid off. Can he make battery swapping work too?

Source: Green Car Reports

Christopher DeMorro

A writer and gearhead who loves all things automotive, from hybrids to HEMIs, can be found wrenching or writing- or else, he's running, because he's one of those crazy people who gets enjoyment from running insane distances.