Tesla Motors has finally announced it’s ready to swap battery packs in the Model S for the few customers to whom invites have been sent. These owners can visit a special facility across the street from the company’s Harris Ranch, Calif. supercharger location.
Battery swap to take more time than planned
Last June, Tesla announced plans to offer 90-second battery swaps to replace discharged battery packs. The battery swap is a better alternative to the superchargers, which still take around 15-20 minutes to deliver a charge. Previously in a demonstration, it was shown that the battery swap took less time than it did to fill up an Audi A8 sedan with gas. However, since then, the plans remained only in demonstration as Tesla continued to set up supercharger stations around the United States but gave no update on the battery swap technology until now.
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In a blog post on Friday, Tesla mentioned that because of the addition of titanium and aluminum “shields” under the Model S sedans, it will take around three minutes to change the battery rather than the earlier-committed 90 seconds. However, Tesla stated in its blog that the company is confident it can bring down the installation time to less than minute, even with the shields.
“Starting next week, we will pilot a pack swap program with invited Model S owners,” said the blog.
All Tesla Model S sedans eligible
After the demo last year, it was speculated that not every Model S will be packed with the new battery packs because installing them will increase the chassis rigidity and replacing it will be a complicated operation, along with the elimination of fasteners and glue. However, Tesla Motors officially confirmed to Ars Technica that all the produced Model S sedans can be replaced with the new batteries.
Tesla owners will have to spend slightly fewer bucks to get their Model S battery swapped compared to a full tank of gasoline for a premium sedan. Model S owners will, however, have to finally get the original battery reinstalled because the new battery comes with a expiry date. If a Model S customer fails to pick up the original battery and return the new one until the due date, then he or she will have to pay the amount equal to the difference in value between the two battery packs.
The Palo Alto-based company said it will track demand from customers for paid pack swaps compared to free charging to know “whether it merits the engineering resources and investment necessary for that upgrade.”