It’s been more than six months since Elon Musk announced Tesla’s battery swap pilot station in Harris Ranch, California, though since then there’s been little movement or news on the alternative to Superchargers. Finally though, the first Tesla Model S owners have received their invites to test out the battery swap stations for themselves, though there are some caveats that come with the invite.
The invite, which you can read for yourself above, lays out what Model S owners can expect from their first, and subsequent visits to the battery swap station. This includes:
- A swap time of three to five minutes (though the first swap takes 10 to 15 minutes)
- The need to schedule an appointment (currently two days ahead of time)
- Will cost “slightly less than a full tank of gasoline for a premium sedan” (about $80)
Additionally, there’s a waiting/viewing area, and while you need to schedule an appointment right now, word is that eventually Tesla will man the station full-time, and you won’t need to actually schedule an appointment to swap batteries.
There are a few catches. For one, Tesla won’t swap in an 85 kWh battery if you only have a 60 kWh pack, and you’re expected to return the “fresh” battery on your return trip. That’s a small price to pay for the convenience of a fully-charged battery pack in the same time it would take to fill the gas tank of a conventional car. Not even the mighty Superchargers can match that sort of speed.
But is the this battery swap station merely a means of meeting California’s oft-kooky emissions laws, and a real alternative Tesla plans to use to supplement its Supercharger stations? That’s an answer I doubt anybody outside of Musk’s inner circle actually knows.