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Tesla will demo its battery swap technology for the Model S

Tesla will be demonstrating its battery swap technology this week in hopes of successfully launching an alternative to electric vehicle (EV) charging. 

Tesla CEO Elon Musk announced via Twitter that the automaker will show off swappable batteries at its design studio in Hawthorne, California this Thursday evening at 8 p.m. PST.

The idea behind battery swapping is to easily open the car chassis to pull the battry out and replace it with a fully-charged one. This saves the driver from having to wait for their battery to charge before traveling -- especially on a road trip that's longer than the available electric range of their battery.

This technology hasn't really taken off yet (although it was attempted before by Better Place and automaker Renault). The main issue is infrastructure, mainly because it's so expensive to deploy. But with Tesla's ever-increasing number of Super Charger stations, adding a battery swap service to these areas could be an ideal solution.

Tesla's Model S is capable of battery swap, but it hasn't really been implemented yet. Tesla is looking to change that this Thursday. 

Tesla has proved to be the superhero of the American electric car startup world. It was approved to receive a $465 million loan from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) in June 2009, which was part of the Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing program. The loan was to be repaid by 2022, but in March of this year, Tesla received permission to pay the loan back five years early by mid-2017. 

However,  Tesla managed to repay the whole sum last month -- nine years earlier than expected from the original 2022 due date. This was mainly due to its decision to issue more stock the week before. Tesla said it wanted to sell about $830 million in shares, and use $450 million in convertible senior notes (which are due in 2018) along with sales of 2.7 million shares (valued at about $229 million at the time) to pay back its federal loan.

This is an especially crucial detail in Tesla's history, considering other plug-in hybrid electric automaker Fisker Automotive (which also received a DOE loan) has failed miserably

Before that, Tesla started shipping 500 Model S sedans per week starting in March of this year, exceeding the sales outlook of 4,500 posted in the February shareholder letter. In fact, Tesla managed to sell 4,900 Model S sedans in the first quarter. The automaker plans to deliver 21,000 total for the year, which slightly exceeds previous forecasts of about 20,000. 

For Q1 2013, Tesla reported a net income of $11.2 million (a huge increase from an $89.9 million loss in the year-ago quarter). Excluding certain items, Tesla's profit came in at 12 cents a share, which was a boost from a loss of 76 cents a share in Q1 2012. Analysts expected a profit of about 4 cents a share. Revenue also saw a huge year-over-year boost, totaling $562 million (up from $30.2 million in the year-ago quarter). 

For those who can't make it to Tesla's California studio this week, don't fret -- Tesla will post a video of the demo on Twitter that night. 

Source: Giga Om

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Big deal
By Motoman on 6/18/2013 11:24:16 AM , Rating: 4
So they're going to demonstrate the process for swapping the battery. Is there anyone who doesn't believe they can swap batteries?

The bigger problem is one of cost and practicality. Let's say you want to set up a battery-swap station in a major population center. And let's assume you want to be able to service a modest 100 cars per day (in LA a gas station might need to service ten times that in a day).

So you need to have room to store 100 fully-charged batteries. And you need the equipment and facility to charge discharged batteries that just came out of the cars. And you're going to need heavy equipment to handle and manage the ~400 pound batteries themselves.

Now, consider the cost of the seems that Tesla doesn't really want to say what they cost - articles about Tesla frequently refer to them as costing "tens of thousands of dollars." I've seen prices that indicate Tesla might be selling extra batteries at a considerable loss, possibly to obfuscate the true cost as a PR move. Battery cost is something that Tesla *really* doesn't want to talk about:

Musk hung up on Barron's when they wanted to discuss battery cost. Just flat-out hung up on them.

So, anyway, let's assume for now that a battery pack costs ~$25,000. If you want to have 100 of them on hand for swapping at such a station, your inventory cost is a $2.5 million. Read that again. Two point five million dollars in battery inventory alone.

Now let's look at some handling issues. These are ~400 pound batteries. You're not just going to have one guy carrying them around. Or even 2 or 3 guys. You're going to have forklifts running around inside some kind of underground bunker (because you'll be replacing the batteries from under the car) that stores all the inventory and charging equipment. We'll assume the forklifts are electric too, so no need to worry about extra ventilation in your battery bunker. A hundred 400 pound batteries is 40,000 pounds of material that you're going to be carrying around each day.

Now consider the storage space needed for all the charged batteries...and the racks and chargers to charge them on. That bunker's gonna be big. What is the land and construction cost going to be for this facility? Especially in an area like LA?

And then...what does the battery swap cost the consumer? After you factor in the $2.5 million inventory cost, the facility cost, the labor and equipment cost, the cost of the electricity to recharge everything, and the lifespan of a battery (which are all going to be doing full cycles every day, granted that you're in a swap-system now)...and I don't know. The battery swap facility has to at least break even, if it's a Tesla-owned facility. Has to make a reasonable profit if it's a 3rd-party kind of thing. So...$100 a swap? $50? $250? Dunno. Probably can't know until you actually get a good handle on the facility cost and the lifespan of batteries that are in that kind of constant-use cycle.

Finally, let's just simply look at time. How long does it take to do the swap, considering that you have to get the car over a limited number of service bays to drop it out from underneath the car and onto a forklift, carry that battery to a charging rack and plug it in, pick up a charged battery from that rack, bring it back to the car and lift it up and install it. Let's assume that's ~15 minutes per car, which I have a feeling may be a bit optimistic, but for now it'll work. On the face of it, you can say "well, at 4 changes per hour, you can do 96 swaps on a single bay in a day, so no big deal!" Reckon gas stations get steady-state traffic throughout all hours of the day? What happens is people will be coming in on their way to work, or on their way home from work. You have to squeeze the vast majority of your 100 battery swaps into a couple hours of the day...let's say 4 hours to be generous. To do 100 swaps in a 4-hour window, you need 6.25 bays (so, 7 actual bays).

That means you need a lot more land than initially you may have been thinking. And your underground bunker needs to be that much larger to accommodate all those swap bays. And now you need more forklifts, and room to safely maneuver all of them and have space for them to get in and out of the storage and charging areas. And your labor costs went up too.

In the end, demonstrating that you *can* change a battery...even if the process for doing so is kind of utterly irrelevant. You need to demonstrate how you're actually going to make that work in the real world - on a reasonably-sized chunk of land, in a reasonable amount of time for the consumer, and at a reasonable cost. the swap demonstration. What you need to "demonstrate" is how you're physically and financially going to make a real-world facility work.

RE: Big deal
By theapparition on 6/18/2013 11:47:27 AM , Rating: 2
Excellent synopsis. I agree with pretty much everything you state.

Time alone is the big factor. While you think a station might consider 7 bays, I think 1 or 2 at the max is possible. That of course translates into longer customer waits. So think 45min to an hour to get your pack charged, unless you leave work 10min early and beat the rush. By that time, you'd be much better served by a 1hr quick charger type device.

Still, as you said we all know batteries can be changed. But can it be done even remotely effectively, and cost efficient?

RE: Big deal
By tayb on 6/18/2013 11:55:11 AM , Rating: 5
Why would they want to implement a swap station in a major population center? In a major population center there are already places to charge, including your home. Your whole argument is based on a scenario that won't ever happen. Tesla would never have a swapping station in Los Angeles with 100 batteries. That's a ridiculous scenario and you know it.

RE: Big deal
By BRB29 on 6/18/2013 12:04:14 PM , Rating: 2
cause swapping is faster than charging. You may not need to swap everyday, but I'm sure there'll be situation where you will need it throughout the year.

You're talking like there's EV charging stations everywhere for everybody.

RE: Big deal
By SublimeSimplicity on 6/18/2013 12:11:16 PM , Rating: 3
There are... its called your garage.

You only need a charging station when you're 100s of miles from your house. Which means in no man's land along the interstate, not the middle of Manhattan.

RE: Big deal
By BRB29 on 6/18/2013 12:20:17 PM , Rating: 2
you should go to the city and see how many people have garages. Only multimillion dollar houses have garages. Last I checked, cities are usually apartment buildings and large office buildings.

Where is this EV most effective and sold the most? oh yes, the cities. Where are they putting these swapping stations? oh yes, the cities.

RE: Big deal
By Dr of crap on 6/18/2013 12:31:37 PM , Rating: 2
You must live in New York. Here in Minneapolis, yes the inner city has less garages, but in the burbs we ALL have garages. I would NOT want to live inner city OR in your crowed, can't find a parking spot place anyway.

RE: Big deal
By BRB29 on 6/18/2013 12:49:06 PM , Rating: 1
I live in DC....
Most of the Model S are sold in high population area, or cities.

You're just confirming what I was saying. Battery swaps in cities make perfect sense. I don't have a garage and just about everyone here don't have one. We all want to buy EVs. The only ones that bought it so far live in apartment buildings with EV spots or rented a house with a garage and share it with 4 roommates lol. You have to be rich if you want your own home here. Even a small townhouse with 1 car garage cost close to a million.

RE: Big deal
By quiksilvr on 6/18/2013 2:22:15 PM , Rating: 2
I think in situations like that it makes a lot more sense just to have parking spots attached to the grid. That way you can either plug in directly or do wireless charging so some troll doesn't come along and yank your plug, parks next to you and takes your plug.

RE: Big deal
By BRB29 on 6/18/2013 2:26:26 PM , Rating: 1
Tesla can't control parking lots or the grid. They can control their battery swap station. Make sense?
How is Tesla going to have a contract with every single buildings and businesses and build charging ports there? That will cost 1000x more than a charging station. They're only selling 20k+ vehicles a year, not 20million.

RE: Big deal
By freedom4556 on 6/18/2013 2:46:30 PM , Rating: 2
Hi, Middle-class from Minneapolis, Rural Arkansan here. Can you guess what I don't have in my town of 10,000? A garage. Do you know why? Because we're relatively poor. I live in an apartment (townhouse, really), along with a dozen other recent college grads and families. We have a parking lot. With no external power outlets, and can you imagine the criss-crossing extension cords? Or the arguments about whose bill which outlet is on? Or the neighbor's urchins unplugging cars for laughs? When are people going to realize that regardless of range or batteries, plug-ins are never going to make sense for a large part of America.

RE: Big deal
By grooves21 on 6/18/2013 3:48:03 PM , Rating: 2
And you are not in Tesla's target market... the supercharger stations will be built upon the early adopters $100K purchases, and someday 10-15 years from now when people like you CAN afford an EV, the network will hopefully be built out to support you.

RE: Big deal
By freedom4556 on 6/19/2013 6:30:19 PM , Rating: 2
I'm not talking about the Tesla, though. Some of the issues are intrinsically related to plug-ins. In 10-15 years time, when these things (like the Volt/Leaf) start to hit the used market affordably, we will be the target audience, and the technology still won't make sense, even after we fork out thousands to replace worn out batteries.

RE: Big deal
By Reclaimer77 on 6/18/2013 7:10:25 PM , Rating: 2
There are... its called your garage. You only need a charging station when you're 100s of miles from your house. Which means in no man's land along the interstate, not the middle of Manhattan.

You people are living in a fantasy land. Honestly it's time to get real and come back to reality.

In real-world use, everyone isn't going to be able to put their Tesla in a garage let alone charge it there.

To claim there's no "need" for battery swap stations in a major city is the most asinine statement, and biased one, that could be made.

It's like saying we don't need gas stations in cities, because hey, we can just store tons of gasoline in our garages right? We only need to fill up when we're 100's of miles from home in "no mans land". Like seriously?

Please just stop the EV FUD and nonsensical viewpoints. This is the way things happen in the real world. The OP is dead on!

RE: Big deal
By Motoman on 6/18/2013 1:30:13 PM , Rating: 5
You will only see swap stations in major population centers because you need a significant density of the Tesla cars in order to have one at all.

It's not a ridiculous scenario - it's the only scenario that makes any sense. LA, Atlanta, NYC, etc. - only a few places where you're going to have a sufficient density of Tesla owners to have a swap station *at all*. If you are a Tesla owner and you live elsewhere, you're not going to have a swap station anywhere near you. You'll live off your wall outlet, period.

RE: Big deal
By kattanna on 6/18/2013 12:03:44 PM , Rating: 3
another thing you need to consider is ownership and liability

when someone buys a tesla, the battery in the car is theirs. when you take it to a station to get it swapped, your battery is now in the hands of another, and you now have "their" battery. what if this new battery fails? is it covered under warranty? now what if you take this battery and go to a different swap station and now get a 3rd battery. does the one the new swap center just got covered? what if the 2 different swap centers are owned by different groups? can you go between such?

all interesting things to ponder

but like has been said.. I'm thinking the swap times in reality will not be all that great compared to a good 1 hour super charge.

RE: Big deal
By SublimeSimplicity on 6/18/2013 12:13:32 PM , Rating: 2
No one is forcing an owner to swap their pack. If they do and the new pack sucks, swap it again.

The batteries are covered under an 8 or 10 year warranty. If the pack gets depleted below some level it's going to get swapped anyway and not with a new pack... so what's the difference?

RE: Big deal
By ptmmac on 6/18/2013 12:49:55 PM , Rating: 2
The problem is you are swapping a depreciable asset. Some one has to pay for the value gained or lost. I would imagine the swap station would be looking to get 3% of the value of the swap in profit to cover their expenses. If you have a top notch battery, you would get a battery that is approximately as good, but you would be reimbursed by the facility for 97% of your battery value minus the value of the "new" battery. Remember when short stick measurements of oil dip sticks was a common practice among gas stations? Imagine how much fraud would occur if a 5% weaker $25,000 battery could be passed of as better than it is? That would be a $1250 profit for the station and would be nearly undetectable by the driver of the car. If it is detectable then 2% would be workable and still would net the unscrupulous mechanic $500.

RE: Big deal
By BRB29 on 6/18/2013 12:59:05 PM , Rating: 2
I'm pretty sure it's either factored into the retail value of the vehicle or a monthly fee.

What I wonder is how they're going to deal with different batteries when new generations/models arrive.

RE: Big deal
By SublimeSimplicity on 6/18/2013 1:03:26 PM , Rating: 2
I think you're confused here. These stations won't be run by BP or 7-11, these will be Tesla owned and operated stations. These stations will serve a double purpose of allowing faster "charges" and offering battery warranty service.

You come in with a battery depleted below a certain threshold, it gets taken out of circulation and rebuilt.

Tesla warrantees the battery to a certain capacity. If you don't want to risk getting a worse pack, no one is forcing you to swap.

RE: Big deal
By corduroygt on 6/18/2013 12:16:21 PM , Rating: 2
An interesting solution is that the car is much cheaper and does not include the battery, but you sign up for a battery replacement service plan that always guarantees you a battery and unlimited battery swaps and free charging for $1k/year (or more depending on how much batteries cost)

RE: Big deal
By Billfold7 on 6/18/2013 12:06:53 PM , Rating: 2
Also, they don't need 100 batteries on hand, they can charge and reinstall the battery they removed from a car an hour ago, so they need 4-5 batteries per service bay, and the batteries don't cost $25,000, they get them at cost, which I imagine is a lot less than what customers pay for them.

RE: Big deal
By Motoman on 6/18/2013 1:33:45 PM , Rating: 2
You're failing at a few things.

First of all, as I noted in the OP, it appears that Tesla is selling extra batteries at a significant loss - probably to avoid having PR any worse than it is. Every article there is about Tesla says that the battery packs cost "tens of thousands of dollars." And if you try to ask Musk what they *Actually* cost, he hangs up on you. Even if you're Barron's.

So no...$25,000 is not a bad guess as to what Tesla's cost is per battery. And in fact, it might be considerably low.

Secondly, you're ignoring the rush-hour swap demand. As I noted, you don't have an even flow of cars over the whole day - you have a rush in the morning as people go to work, and a rush as people come home from work. There's no time to charge battery packs. You have to just simply swap them all. Maybe you get a few charged that showed up at 4:30PM and you can use them for the people showing up at 6:00PM...but you're going to have to have full stock of fully-charged batteries to support your rush hours without waiting for anything to charge.

RE: Big deal
By lelias2k on 6/18/2013 5:39:01 PM , Rating: 2
I think you're failing to account for the amount of time it takes to swap the battery itself, per bay.

Let's say the first person arrived and swapped. The battery that came out immediately starts to charge. Let's say it takes 15 minutes to fully swap a battery, if you have 6 batteries per bay it will be 75 minutes before that original pack goes back into a car. I'm sure they'll have it connected to a super charger, so although not completely full, it will be pretty close to.

So, if we get your original 7-bay estimate, we have now only 42 battery packs, instead of 100. That's almost 60% less cost on the battery front alone.

I say let's wait for the guy that has achieved more than all of us in this forum together to speak up and gives us his version of this tech. He has shut up the critics in the past, so I don't doubt he will again.

RE: Big deal
By nafhan on 6/19/2013 3:20:34 PM , Rating: 2
If your typical usage requires you to stop in the middle for charging, you shouldn't be buying an electric car. End of story.

I think the point of these battery swap things is as an enabler for the occasional atypical usage scenario - such as the yearly family vacation or a business trip. There's no way this is aimed at assisting in one's daily drive.

RE: Big deal
By corduroygt on 6/18/2013 12:11:28 PM , Rating: 4
Nice points, but I believe some improvements can be made/overlooked some things.

1. 400lb battery doesn't mean it's huge. Here's the model S battery: 100 of these aren't going to take up that much space. 5 stacks of 20 batteries are easily manageable in a medium sized gas station.

2. You could automate a lot of the battery replacement process. Think of a similar setup to an oil changing bay, where the battery is automatically placed on a conveyor belt from the stack and the old battery is automatically carried to the stack for recharging. You could cut the replacement time to 10 minutes or less.

3. The only big issue is you'll need some serious industrial grade juice to charge up 100 batteries.

RE: Big deal
By TSS on 6/19/2013 9:55:55 AM , Rating: 2
3. isn't an issue as the station can charge the batteries slowly at night. if you go through 100 batteries a day and have 100 fully charged batteries by the start of the day, your next 100 batteries can take a full day to charge instead of needing to charge right away. This'll probably reduce the number of batteries needed if you can charge a battery in say, ~8 hours, meaning the batteries from the morning rush are charged again by the evening rush you'd need only 50 batteries (as the other 50 are the ones you took out in the morning and charged before the afternoon). And the powerdraw would still be smaller then the 1 hour at home charge, 8 times smaller infact.

As another poster said ownership is a big problem but on the other hand, that's only with the current way of doing things. If tesla's smart, they won't actually start doing battery swaps until a new model. Then, simply never have the client "own" the batteries anyway.

Meaning the client doesn't own the batteries, just the rest of the car, while tesla continues ownership of the batteries. Maybe offer a leasing contract with it or something. Then if the batteries are swapped out, doesn't matter, the other pack is owned by tesla as well. If something fails, not your problem, you simply call up tesla, they swap it out for a new one which you don't own either. Wanna sell the car? The contract simply transfers to the new owner.

It would have a nice side effect of dropping the price of the car like a brick, while tesla is best suited to recuperate any cost from failed batteries or whatnot. If a pack dies on the consumer outside of the guarrantee they'd just throw it away, or have to spend alot of money on technicians tesla already has to repair it, or spend alot of money on buying a new pack on which tesla will make minimal profit anyway.

The only problem that remains then is the total amount of juice. Remember, if electric cars are starting to make too much sense, people *will* buy them. This means that yet another xx kilowatts of electricity need to be generated every so often. The grid will need to be able to handle said kilowatts.

just as a very quick calculation, there are 250 million passenger cars in the US. If all of those would carry a 80 kw/h battery pack, that's 20 billion kw/h that would need to be charged each day. The average nuclear reactor in the US produces 12,2 billion kw/h a year. So you'd need about 585 nuclear reactors more to power the US passenger car fleet (not every car needs to be charged daily but this also assumes perfect 24h charge coverage so it'll cancel eachother out).

At $6-$9 billion dollars per plant that'd be $3,5-$5,3 trillion dollars. Just to make sure all passenger cars in the US can charge. So that doesn't include extra batteries for swapping or trucks used for transportation. Doesn't include upgrades to the grid because in no way can the grid handle that load right now. ~$5 trillion just to get the power generated at all.

Sorry to put a political message in here (though the subject is about as political as they come anyway), but the US deficit since obama went from $10,6 trillion to $16,4 trillion. Just wanted to point out that even this insane calculation could've be funded ~120% with the money the US already spent in 6(!) years.

RE: Big deal
By BRB29 on 6/19/2013 10:46:49 AM , Rating: 2
Your estimates are off. With our current grid, we can actually handle a few million EVs before needing an upgrade. The NRC also is constantly building new plants. It's not sitting at a stand still.

When EVs reach volumes of millions of vehicles, our grid can probably handle 10s of millions by then. The US does not take the energy lightly. We are very proactive with our grids and have massive antiterrorism plans in place along with contingency and back up plans.

Autonomous vehicles, mass transit systems, EVs, smart grid distribution are all part of the future plans. The only thing holding everything back guessed it...politicians.

RE: Big deal
By m51 on 6/19/2013 1:28:24 PM , Rating: 2
Your numbers are off.
12.2 billion kw-hours per year is the average per power plant, not per reactor. Many plants have multiple reactors.
A better estimate would be 9 billion kwh per year for a modern reactor (eg AP1000), or 24 million kwh per day.

The energy need per day would be the number of cars involved in commutes and the avg energy used per commute. This is much less than your estimate.

Avg. round trip commute is 32 miles, energy consumption is 0.25 kwh per mi. so 8Kwh per commute, and around 115 million commuters per day creates a need for 920 million kwh per day. That equates to only around 38 modern reactors.

RE: Big deal
By Scotttech2 on 6/18/2013 12:20:52 PM , Rating: 2
Your math is all wrong.

While each charging station may service 100 or greater cars per day, 100 batteries are not needed. Every car already has its own battery. The station need only hold enough batteries to service the number of vehicles that need a swap during the amount of time it takes to charge that same set of batteries.

With current v2 charging tech, that's 30 mins. So, if 10 cars come to swap their batts every 30 mins, you need an "inventory" of 10 batts on hand. This way, you'll constantly be taking in empty or nearly empty batts and turning out charged batteries.

Secondly in terms of removing and installing the batt, this is not going to be some kind of put a car up on a lift experience. It'll most likely be automated with either a side removal by a machine or a sunken pit removal. We shall see today.

This is very exciting because a simple batt swap will absolutely close the gap between tesla and gas powered vehicles. I own an 85kwh performance S and I can tell you that every other vehicle I've owned or driven sucks terribly by comparison (including an M3). If you drive one you will want one. It's that simple.

RE: Big deal
By Scotttech2 on 6/18/2013 12:25:55 PM , Rating: 2
Also as another poster pointed out, your home is your gas station. The only time you need to charge a model s is when you are driving more than 125 or so miles from home and if you have no place to charge before your return drive home where you will plug in your car when you arrive home and it'll be ready to go in a few hours on a 240v outlet. Most people do not drive these distances daily. Thus you will see very few cars at tesla swap or charging stations compared to gas stations, since everyone leaves home with a "full tank" every morning and returns home to "full up" again without ever needing a charge out in the world in most cases.

RE: Big deal
By M'n'M on 6/18/2013 1:07:03 PM , Rating: 2
With current v2 charging tech, that's 30 mins. So, if 10 cars come to swap their batts every 30 mins, you need an "inventory" of 10 batts on hand. This way, you'll constantly be taking in empty or nearly empty batts and turning out charged batteries.

Quick charging degrades battery life. If I'm a careful Tesla owner, always babying my big $$ battery via slow overnight charging, I'm not going to be too happy about trading it in for one that's been degraded who knows how much.

RE: Big deal
By grooves21 on 6/18/2013 12:24:12 PM , Rating: 3
You are completely missing the point that EVs are still in their infancy and you are expecting them to build infrastructure to completely replace and moreso REPLICATE the current infrastructure that we use for gasoline vehicles.

Reality is, it isn't necessary to replicate the US gas station network in order to be usable and successful. EV buyers know that their behavior needs to be different and Tesla's success with almost no quick-charge infrastructure proves it doesn't need it.

People won't be gassing up on the way to work in a metro area, they should be completely charged via their home charger. They won't be gassing up on the way home from work either. Teslas have a 200-300 mile range and the average American only drives 40-50 miles per day.

This is for fixing one of the biggest negatives for EVs. Long trips. They will retrofit their supercharger stations to allow for quick battery swaps and make a road trip nearly as convenient as in a gas car.

Large battery inventory is unnecessary as well. The superchargers can charge a battery to 80% in 30 minutes. Considering the relative low amount of Teslas on the road, they would only need 4-5 batteries on hand per station to meet demand. As the demand grows they will build more stations. No need to instantly be able to support everyone buying a Tesla overnight.

RE: Big deal
By Nutzo on 6/18/2013 1:38:51 PM , Rating: 2
Teslas have a 200-300 mile range and the average American only drives 40-50 miles per day

My commute is only around 15 miles/day, which is easily in the range of most electric cars.

However, I sometimes like to go places on the weekend (like visit friends or relatives), which can easily mean a 150-200 mile round trip. Tesla is the only electric car that has the range to make even a basic weekend trip for me, but anything longer than 2 hours away is a problem even for Tesla.

I think I'll stick with my Camry Hybrid with it's 650 mile range, that takes less than 5 minutes to fill up. That's a good for 8-10 hours of driving before needing to worry about refueling. Alot cheaper for buy, and no range worries.

RE: Big deal
By BRB29 on 6/18/2013 1:42:38 PM , Rating: 2
but you could die in it because it's that boring.

RE: Big deal
By grooves21 on 6/18/2013 3:45:14 PM , Rating: 2
I understand that...

I was arguing against the original posters thought that there would be huge lines of electric cars in metro areas waiting to "fill up" like they do at gas stations.

Your argument is the PERFECT case for battery swapping stations, which likely won't be in major cities, but on the edges and in-between, to make cross country (or state) trips just as easy as they would be with an internal combustion engine. Commuters would still charge up at home... travelers would use the supercharger/battery swap stations.

RE: Big deal
By Nutzo on 6/18/2013 5:09:44 PM , Rating: 2
Except I live in Southern California and can easily drive 200 miles one way and not leave a city.
From south orange county to northern LA, or riverside is like one big city, so they would need these battery swaps in the city.

I doubt battery swapping will every be pratical from money standpoint. It's just a way to get around the limitations of current electric cars. Until battery technology improves another 5-10 fold (like a Nissan Leaf that cost the same yet has a range of 500 miles?), the market for electric cars will remain limited.

RE: Big deal
By Mint on 6/18/2013 12:38:16 PM , Rating: 2
tlbria - too long but read it anyway :)

For a company that does $500M sales per quarter, $2.5M for rental packs that should last a decade is pocket change. O&M for the station will dwarf that.

It doesn't have to be an underground bunker, as you can easily have a small platform that you drive over while the battery swaps below and stacks on the sides.

I imagine Tesla is going just create a few pilot swap stations for now, like one between LA and the Bay Area, NY and Boston, and a few in major cities for those "oh shit I forgot to charge and am in a rush" moments. It's not going to be nearly as prolific as their supercharger network.

The Model S is a runaway hit, and what Tesla is doing now is creating a unique advantage for its EVs that no competitor will have for a long time, should one arise in the luxury EV market that it currently owns. Car specs alone won't be good enough to trump EVs.

It's sort of like how Apple's app ecosystem cemented their share of high end smartphones/tablets for a long time: not everyone 500k apps to choose from, but in 2010 it was nice knowing that every app worth anything was available on iOS.

It also helped the iPad replace netbook sales by promising "an app for that" to marginalize the worry of no x86 compatibility. The Model S is arguably the best luxury sedan in the $60-100k price range with one caveat compared to gas cars: limited range between long charge times. This helps to mitigate that worry.

RE: Big deal
By Ammohunt on 6/18/2013 3:03:41 PM , Rating: 2
Who would in their right mind swap batteries manually? I can see this being done easily and in little time if the battery packs are modular. No one is going to drive a fork lift when you can design an automated lift system to do the job.

i.e. lets spend all this money and engineering designing the only viable electric car only so we can have billy bob at the gas station use a forklift, duct tape and bailing wire to swap a battery.

RE: Big deal
By Motoman on 6/18/2013 3:09:36 PM , Rating: 2
Automated lift or not, something's going to have to carry the 400 pound battery from the car bay to the charging rack.

And if someone invents a fully automated system of some kind, then great - but whatever it is, it's going to be big and expensive. Likely more expensive than a forklift.

Not sure what you're getting at with implications of duct tape and baling wire. Or why the operator of a forklift must be some kind of dipsh1t redneck with 2 first names. A forklift is the most obvious, already-existing implement that one would use to do such a thing. Proper tool for the job.

RE: Big deal
By HoosierEngineer5 on 6/18/2013 4:06:34 PM , Rating: 2
Why use forklifts and bays? Seems simpler to use a set-up similar to a car wash - pull cars through, drop the old battery through the floor onto a conveyor, raise in a new one. The charging mechanism is part of the conveyor, freshly charged after a ride through the system. Change batteries faster than filling them with gasoline. Possibly 120 per hour, if you space them 30 seconds apart.

Of course, you would not really 'own' the battery, just renting them. Each battery would need to be equipped with a capacity measuring circuit, and get recycled when it fell below a minimum capacity. That process obviously would need to be worked out. It is likely that the service center wouldn't even own the batteries either, simply provide a service.

This is a long way away, but something like this is necessary for the price to be competitive with gasoline refueling.

RE: Big deal
By Shig on 6/18/2013 5:22:43 PM , Rating: 2
I skimmed most posts and sorry if this has been said already, but did anyone mention the word upgrades ?

This is a platform for quick upgrades (future 110+kwh battery) and most likely a service guarantee that guarantees your battery cannot be degraded past a certain % or Tesla has to give you a new or better one.

They're located in major metropolitan areas because that's where the service stations are.

There are also smart grid applications here. Used batteries can be put together for use in energy storage. Either storing electricity generated on site or time of day pricing with the grid.

RE: Big deal
By Shig on 6/18/2013 5:27:47 PM , Rating: 2
Do people see the emerging trend? Solarcity provides systems for the Supercharger stations, the supercharger stations can store large quantities of electricity, and you give electricity away for free to customers to keep them happy. Supercharger network + battery swap network = smart grid. A smart grid that you have privy access to. The business model is pretty genius, and people wonder why those stocks keep going up.

RE: Big deal
By Motoman on 6/18/2013 5:33:32 PM , Rating: 2

So what gets the batteries on/off the conveyor? Or up from the conveyor into the car, etc.?

Probably a forklift.

Or, if you're trying to image some huge Rube Goldberg contraption that doesn't use a forklift (I don't know why a few people seem to balk at using forklifts anyway...they'd be well suited to the task), you've just invented something wildly more complex and expensive than what I suggested. I imagine you thinking about giant robot arms picking up the 400 pound batteries off a grocery-style converyor belt and plugging them into cradles and such.

Please. No need to invent such contraptions. The cost of the facility is going to be sky-high already without these kinds of shenanigans.

RE: Big deal
By Dorkyman on 6/18/2013 8:38:36 PM , Rating: 2
Please. Enough already. Don't you have any imagination? I see a highly-automated operation using standardized modules. Swap time will be similar to a gasoline fillup.

Imagine this blog existing in 1905. Someone will be arguing against the adoption of the "automobile" because there simply aren't enough men around with strong enough arms to crank over an engine after refueling. Why, can you imagine 10 automobiles being refueled an hour? Impossible.

RE: Big deal
By Reclaimer77 on 6/18/2013 8:44:24 PM , Rating: 2
LMAO yeah. And when I pull into a gas station a highly-automated operation does all my pumping and payment for me. I don't even have to get out of the car! Also embedded lasers and temperature sensors in the concrete check my tire pressure for me and tread depth. Then all of this information is instantly synced to my tablet or smartphone!

Now if you'll excuse me, my personal android just cooked dinner. Duck a l'orange I believe mmmmmm.

RE: Big deal
By Dorkyman on 6/18/2013 8:38:54 PM , Rating: 2
Please. Enough already. Don't you have any imagination? I see a highly-automated operation using standardized modules. Swap time will be similar to a gasoline fillup.

Imagine this blog existing in 1905. Someone will be arguing against the adoption of the "automobile" because there simply aren't enough men around with strong enough arms to crank over an engine after refueling. Why, can you imagine 10 automobiles being refueled an hour? Impossible.

RE: Big deal
By Treckin on 6/18/2013 8:04:50 PM , Rating: 2
Youd think you never saw any amazing automation in your life, like you were Napoleon Bonaparte listening to someone suggest you build a tunnel to England-

"Say what? Youll dig it underground, beneath the ocean... and people will just FLY on metal horse carriages faster then the wind, and emerge in England? Insanity..."

Take a second and youtube some videos of modern production automation, and youll get my drift.

Its not gonna be 4 somoans changing your battery with a cherry-picker. Think more like a 5-disc CD changer if you will. Yes, machines will do all of those amazingly difficult things you described.

1 remove battery

2 place old battery on charger

3 install new battery

4 ???

5 profit

RE: Big deal
By Samus on 6/19/2013 12:14:42 AM , Rating: 2
WTF? They're not going to have "100" battery packs (or $2.5 million dollars worth of batteries) on-hand. That's a ridiculously large number.

Battery packs aren't like gas station tanks. Your whole analogy is completely flawed because electricity can be generated and piped in real time. Gas stations don't have this luxury.

Swapping stations need no more than 10 battery packs. The swap takes 5-10 minutes, and they can charge a battery pack in 30-45 minutes using their 480v super chargers, possibly faster since they can ultra-cool the packs outside of the car with more advanced cooling techniques.

With 10 packs per station there will always be a pack available even if they are swapping 2 batteries simultaneously, non-stop, throughout the day. They just need to keep cycling in the old packs.

RE: Big deal
By BRB29 on 6/19/2013 8:35:47 AM , Rating: 2
That's assuming if there is only 1 standard battery pack for all vehicles.

But you're right, 100 is a bit high.

RE: Big deal
By bigi on 6/19/2013 8:31:41 AM , Rating: 2
Who wrote the 1st reply?

Someone has 4 page long skewed "analysis" ready to go and paste?

Well, why don't you watch the event first? This would be a good idea before you hit ctrl+V with chevron prepared crep.

No, perhaps you are acquinted with the NYT fiasco looser who pretended to write 'articles'?

I any case, just don't post. People will buy Tesla cars. Moreover, they will love each one of them. No? Write it again when you pay $15/gallon and we'll talk.

RE: Big deal
By Shig on 6/19/2013 1:23:45 PM , Rating: 2
Haters gonna hate.

It's entertaining to see their flailing arguments get destroyed one by one by Musk.

RE: Big deal
By BRB29 on 6/19/2013 1:30:26 PM , Rating: 2
Haters: not possible!

Musk: I'm a billionaire and I'm the first to make EV mainstream. I'm also only 41 and can bang your wife whenever I feel like it.

Musk wins with flawless victory!

RE: Big deal
By nafhan on 6/19/2013 3:15:06 PM , Rating: 2
Nope. Since the "super charger" will charge "300 miles of range per hour of charging". I'm going to go out on a limb here and guess that they could make do with: number of batteries potentially used in an hour + something similar to a supercharger.

100 batteries would (at a guess) be enough to replace 1:1 gasoline with electric infrastructure IF people couldn't charge at home/work. One of the main advantages of electric vehicles, though, is that the majority of charging is going to happen in those places. Specifically: the "service station battery swap" scenario is not going to be typical. It will be for long distance, like taking a vacation, only - not day to day usage.

Honestly, I'd be very surprised if a typical "battery swap" location had more than 3 or 4 batteries + a charger. The cost will be fairly high, and it will also be something the typical electric car user will never encounter.

“And I don't know why [Apple is] acting like it’s superior. I don't even get it. What are they trying to say?” -- Bill Gates on the Mac ads

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