has already revolutionized EV ownership with their award-winning
Model S sedan and ever-expanding
Supercharger network. Now, the Silicon Valley-based electric vehicle manufacturer is adding another quick charge option for Model S owners and it doesn't involve plugging in their cars.
Tesla announced a new battery swap option for Model S Owners yesterday at their Hawthorn, Calif. design studio.
"When you come to the Tesla station--it shouldn't really be called the 'supercharging station,' it should just be called the Tesla station--you have the choice of the Supercharger, which is and always will be free, or you have the choice of a battery pack swap, which is faster than you can fill a gas tank," said Tesla CEO Elon Musk. "So, the only choice you have to make when you come to one of our stations is, do you prefer faster or free?"
Although a battery swap option has not been previously available to Model S owners, Musk claims that Tesla designed the car with this functionality in mind all along. The stated goal was to make replacing the Model S battery pack a faster process than filling a gas tank. To back that up, Tesla gave a live demonstration comparing the two.
In less than 90 seconds, a battery swap station was able to remove the bolts supporting the Model S battery pack, lower the pack, and mount a new one in its place. A gasoline-powered Audi A8 was shown refueling on a screen behind the battery swap demonstration. Even though the gas car was being serviced at what Musk claimed to be Los Angeles's fastest fuel pump with a 10 gallon/minute rate, Tesla was able to perform two Model S battery swaps before the A8's gas cap was twisted back into place.
Musk expects some of Tesla's Supercharging stations to receive battery swapping technology by the end of this year. Supercharging will always be free, says Musk, but use of the $500,000 battery swapping units will not. According to Reuters
, the exchange is expected to cost owners between $60 and $80 per swap.
Owners will be able to stay in their Model S throughout the entire battery swap process. On their return trip, the driver can reclaim their initial battery with a full charge. If the owner decides to keep the freshly swapped battery, they get billed for the difference based on how new their outgoing battery was.
We still aren't sure if 60 kWh owners will be able to swap to an 85 kWh battery, but we imagine the bill would be significant.
TRANSLOGIC Editor Adam Morath contributed to this report.