Published on June 22nd, 2013 | by Zachary Shahan


17 Tesla Battery Swap Videos (Including Q&A With Elon Musk)

June 22nd, 2013 by  

I think we just lucked out. A reader has passed along a bunch of videos from the Tesla Model S battery swap demo and the follow-up Q&A session with Elon Musk. There are a lot of interesting answers in the Q&A videos that I haven’t seen or heard elsewhere (and some that we have already seen or heard). Check them all out below!

The big electric car news of the week was surely the Tesla Model S battery pack swap demo that I wrote about yesterday. Tesla Motors had been hinting about it for weeks… or years, depending on how you count. But I don’t think anyone anticipated that the battery swap would take just 90 seconds. (Okay, fine, some Tesla enthusiasts probably had the idea….)

As some people noted, it would have been nice if the demo gave us a better view of the actually swap… couldn’t really see much of that.

Also, Tesla CEO and Chairman Elon Musk somehow didn’t have a script for what to say while the swap was happening and while their Audi guy (Javier) was filling up his gas tank in LA. (Say wha?) As some of our commenters noted, he could have used that time to give us more details about the battery swapping that was going on. Not really sure why that wasn’t planned better….

However, a lot of interesting details and comments were provided in the Q&A, which we’ve got videos of below. And a 90-second battery swap — even at $60 to $80 — is likely to appeal to a number of time-sensitive Tesla Model S drivers who value their time at more than $120 or $160 per hour. So, I think it’s pretty exciting to see that Tesla is now going to offer this option.

One of our readers who was at the event has shared a bunch of videos from the demo and Q&A on YouTube. Check them out.

This first video includes the intro to the video shared yesterday (not part of that Tesla video). There’s some really good and funny stuff in here from Elon.

These next three are videos of segments of the event that were included in the video we shared yesterday.

And the next 13 are videos of the Q&A session that followed the demo:

Interestingly, that answer above gives us more information than we reported yesterday. Yesterday, we noted that the driver could get his battery pack back on his return trip or could keep the new battery pack and pay Tesla the difference between its value and the older battery pack’s value. However, here, Elon adds that there’s also the option of having Tesla deliver your old pack back to you wherever you are! You just pay for the transport cost of that.

Interesting to hear in the video above that the price of a battery swap will vary by location based on the price of gasoline in that area. Interesting idea.

So, he indicates in the video above that these battery swap stations are likely to be available starting in the 4th quarter.

As I think has been pretty clear for awhile, Elon notes Tesla is “fundamentally production limited,” not demand limited. In other words, it’s producing all the cars it can in order to supply them to customers who have ordered them. And that should be the case through the end of the year. Nothing new, but apparently some people aren’t aware of that.

For those of you interested in ARB issues — in particular, the possibility of battery swapping not qualifying for such credits — hopefully the rumination and Elon’s points above are useful to you.

Better Place was “better at marketing than they were at engineering.” Ouch….

I love that Elon is open to selling the battery swapping technology only if “they make it as convenient as we do.” In other words, no screwing up or highjacking the customer convenience solution! Musk is a clear EV pioneer who wants to help the world to change in a positive way.

Interesting stuff. Your thoughts?

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About the Author

is tryin' to help society help itself (and other species) with the power of the typed word. He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director and chief editor, but he's also the president of Important Media and the director/founder of EV Obsession, Solar Love, and Bikocity. Zach is recognized globally as a solar energy, electric car, and energy storage expert. Zach has long-term investments in TSLA, FSLR, SPWR, SEDG, & ABB — after years of covering solar and EVs, he simply has a lot of faith in these particular companies and feels like they are good cleantech companies to invest in.

  • John Arevalo

    The only catch I can see is that this method effectively eliminates the economic advantage that electric vehicles currently have over ICE vehicles. If it were my choice and for the sake of the financial security of Tesla, I would have the company invest in a pool of battery packs and offer this as a low cost service to Tesla owners. Once the Tesla name and sales figures go to mainstream levels, you can perhaps shift part of the system’s costs into the price of the cars themselves. A cheaper, mainstream, high volume car is also essential for achieving this marketing model, of course.

    • Bob_Wallace

      It would wipe out the economic advantage if you did a lot of your “recharging” by paying for swaps.

      But you still have the option to charge at work/home for most of your driving and use the free rapid chargers on long trips.

      Swapping is an expensive option to those in a hurry.

      • Veno

        Even better set up you own solar array to charge the battery with out been on the grid, it will pay for itself with in a year.

        • Bob_Wallace

          Want to share your math?

          • RobS

            Average miles a year 10,000 at ~320 wh/mile = 3,200kwh per year for your vehicle. a 2.5kw array will produce 3,600kwh in California annually. solarsyz and other similar online retailers have 2.5-2.8kw systems for $5,800 before rebates or installation which are about equal or perhaps even a bit more then installation. Lets call it $6000 to be for the solar array. 10,000 miles at 30mpg is 333 gallons which at $3.60 per gallon is ~$1,200 a year. So my maths says a solar array at current pessimistic prices will pay for itself right on 5 years then supply you with effectively free fuel for another 20-25 years. Remember if gas prices rise this is accelerated even for those who buy a system today and system prices are dropping steadily so overtime this maths is likely to only get better,

          • Bob_Wallace

            A few years. One year not so believable.

            US drivers average 13,000 miles per year, 35.6 miles per day.

            35.6 miles at 0.3 kWh/mile = 10.7 kWh per day.

            US ‘lower 48’ states average about 4.5 solar hours per day. 10.7 / 4.5 = 2.4 kW array. Upsize that some for system losses.

            A 3 kW grid tie system in the US would probably cost $9,000. Prices are all over the place right now. That’s a rough average.

            13,000 miles / 30 MPG vehicle = 433 gallon per year. At $3.59/gallon (current average) that’s $1,554/year. Plus oil changes and more maintenance costs. $1,800 is probably low.

            $9,000 / $1,800 = 5 year payback. And then 20, 30, 40 or more years of free charging electricity. (Perhaps a small grid access fee of a few dollars a month.)

          • RobS

            Here in Australia the same solar array is about $5,000. Our petrol is ~$1.50 per litre (~$5.30 US per gallon) and 333 gallons is 1260 litres which is $1890 per year on fuel. This means that in AUstralia the solar system pays for itself in 2.6 years.

    • RobS

      Every objection I have heard eg “it makes EV ownership expensive” “you have to return topics up your pack” etc etc seem to be based on some misguided assumption that it is in sme way compulsory to use the swap stations. These swap stations will affect the Tesla ownership experience in absolutely now way unless you want them too, their use is optional. Not convenient because you’re not returning the same way you came? DON’T USE IT. Think its too expensive? DON’T USE IT. Meanwhile if your travelling from San Fran to LA in a hurry by the same route both ways and the cost is justified by the time saved THEN USE IT.

      • RobS

        Return to pick up*

      • eject

        The main thing that is almost always forgotten when talking about people who are in the position to buy a 100k car “new” just because they choose to, they do not really care about the price. The moment they bolt the number plates on they lost 20k. We are talking here about people in the market for a 400hp luxury sedan. This battery swapping for 60-80$ is the right move, Tesla shows again that they do understand their costumers.

        What makes me wonder, also after someone else told me that they didn’t just take the 40kwh model of the shelf, they delivered 60kwh software limited ones to the people that pre-ordered the baby battery.

        Are there really different battery packs for the Model S or ist ist always a pack with say 100kwh (I’m thinking it is bigger as the biggest option, they stressed about how they balance the load and not use all the cells all the time) and they unlock a nameplate capacity when car an battery get bundled. Somehow that would make sense, or what happens when you drive with the 60kwh model to a swap? can you get the bigger one and then pay the difference? which would sound very much like tesla, but then what do they do with a small pack no one wants. So I am somehow guessing all the batteries might be same and Tesla just assumes you will buy your way up to the biggest nameplate capacity eventually and the small one are offered for marketing psychological reasons.

        • Bob_Wallace

          You might see if you could find curb weight data for the different models.

  • Shiggity

    Electric cars can’t be cool – Elon disproved

    Electric cars can’t drive long distances – Elon disproved

    Electric cars can’t compete with ICE on speed, luxury, performance, and safety – Elon disproved

    Electric cars take too long to refill – Elon disproved

    Electric cars cannot be driven in the cold – NY Times smackdown

    Electric cars will always be too expensive – Nissan already showed us this is wrong and it’s only been 2 years.

    Pretty much every argument is gone. It’s funny to watch the ICE people argue in vain.

    • great rundown! that could be a post… and may turn out to be one very soon… 😀

  • Amber Archangel

    I am so laughing!! Great work! : D

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