Tesla to Show Off EV Battery Swap Tech This Week
June 18, 2013 10:34 AM
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Tesla will demo its battery swap technology for the Model S
Tesla will be demonstrating its
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
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.
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RE: Big deal
6/18/2013 12:38:16 PM
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.
"And boy have we patented it!" -- Steve Jobs, Macworld 2007
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