Tesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA) CEO Elon Musk showed off the company’s latest battery swapping technology last night in Los Angeles. The video of the event is posted on the company’s website, and it’s worth watching, if for no other reason than to watch Musk as he watches the video.
The Details On Tesla’s Battery Swapping
The idea behind the battery swap is simple. Drivers of the Model S pull into one of the Tesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA) stations and can choose between opting for the Supercharger, which takes about half an hour for a substantial charge, or a battery swap. Swapping the battery takes only about 90 seconds and doesn’t even require the driver to get out of the car.
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The driver pulls into a special area, and a machine pulls the old battery out of the bottom of the car and puts a new one in. Tesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA) played the video of a battery swap along with video of a fill-up at a regular gas station. Two battery swaps were finished in the time it took to fill up a gas tank.
Other Tidbits About Tesla Motors’ Battery Swap
Drivers who opt for battery swapping may later return to the same station to swap the battery again or choose to keep the newer battery and pay the difference between the value of their old battery and the price of the new one. The first swapping stations will be installed at Tesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA)’s Supercharger stations along I-5 in California, and more stations will follow on the East coast not long afterward.
With Tesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA)’s recently announced plan to expand its Supercharger network throughout North America over the next year, the company hopes to address the main issue some drivers have with electric vehicles: their range. The battery swapping stations make it easier to drive across the country.
Tesla’s Battery Swapping Options
Swapping a battery will cost between $60 and $80, which is about the same amount it takes to fill up a 15-gallon gas tank. Drivers will pay this fee on both swaps—the time they trade their old battery and the time when they return to get that battery back.
Those who decide to keep the new battery are billed for the difference in the battery prices if the battery is newer than the one they traded in. They will receive the balance of the warranty that was left on the battery they kept. The battery warranty is eight years, so for example, a driver who swaps out his or her three-year-old battery for one that’s only six months old will still have seven-and-a-half years left on the warranty of the new one.
Drivers can also choose to return home still driving on their borrowed battery but pay a transport fee to get their old battery sent back to their house.