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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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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)

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