Using service centres/stores as battery swap stations?

Using service centres/stores as battery swap stations?

Not sure if this has been talked about before but I am thinking about Elon's comment recently about the possibility of recharging the Model S faster than you can fill up on a tank of gas. To me this can only mean some sort of battery swap situation. Unless Elon really has something special up his sleeve!

Better Place's model of costly automated battery swap stations never made sense to me because as batteries evolve and we begin getting close to the holy grail 500 mile range I believe the need for such stations will decline dramatically, leaving the company who spent all this money on battery swap infrastructure holding the bag with useless swap stations that are rarely used.

Instead Tesla could use the service centers / stores for use as battery swap stations until batteries evolve to a certain point.

Think about it, all the lifts, tools, and staff are in place to quickly change out a battery (provided they are given say 24 hours notice). The service centers will always need to be there to service more owners in the future anyway so do not become obsolete over time like Better Place's automated swap stations will eventually.

You might pay $25 for the swap (for a fully charged battery) and your own battery could remain at the service centre until you return (maybe a $2 per day storage fee could apply as well)?
You would pay for everything (swaps + storage fee) on your return trip when you pick up your old battery.
If you were moving house permanently (from say New York to Florida) and not returning Tesla could arrange to transport your battery to the nearest service station in your new location, again for a fee of course.

To prevent abuse people using the swap system would have to agree to switching on a GPS locator within the swapped battery. This would prevent people from simply swapping out their old depleted battery (capacity wise) for a swapped new one and never returning to pick up their old battery.

Perhaps depending upon the condition of your old battery compared to the swapped one Tesla might offer you the opportunity to pay the difference and keep the swapped battery.
Say your old battery was at 80% capacity after 5 years of ownership and the swapped battery was at could pay to upgrade and keep the swapped battery.
I believe Tesla is going to be interested in retaining old Tesla batteries for use in energy storage systems with Elon's other company SolarCity.

Anyway just thought this would be an easy and affordable way for Tesla to introduce battery swapping without investing in specific automated battery swap stations at great expense.
Most people know a day or two in advance when they are taking a big road trip. Just call the service stations you will be passing by on your journey and book in your battery swaps. So long as your are there within an hour of your booking Tesla could guarantee that the swap will take no longer than 5-10 mins or the swap is free!

This would give people the choice between a paid faster swapping service or a free but slightly slower supercharging option. Eventually as batteries/ultra capacitors evolve supercharging will become even faster and battery swapping may become obsolete. If it does at least Tesla wouldn't have invested in specific expensive automated battery swapping facilities like Better Place.

Just my two cents.

daoops | May 22, 2013

Completely agree, I hope it's not swapping of batteries that is the solution. If any swapping I like loaner cars that you "rent" instead until battery is as you say 500 mile.

I'm very much hoping for parallel charging of all the small AAA batteries. If you could fill one of those small buggers in a few minutes you should be able to fill'em all up in the same time right?
(ok, obviously it was a long time I learned about electricity in school so I might be far out here. I do not mind being corrected).
It will take an awful amount of Ampere, yes. Maybe too much, yes.
But I still hope its not battery swapping, much for that reason you describe.


Brian H | May 22, 2013

The small batteries are charged parallel already. The Supercharger speed is about how long they take to recharge, though it could be somewhat faster. The problem is delivering that much power that fast, and how heavy/thick the cables need to be to carry it without bursting into flames.

Brian H | May 22, 2013

Correction: small sets are charged in parallel. The total power required is not reduced by parallel charging, though.

carlgo | May 22, 2013

Maybe Tesla could own the batteries, provide them for free and then get them payed off separately with recharging fees. Cheaper Tesla initial purchase, cheap fuel costs...not a bad deal.

Still, it is likely that this is not going to be necessary as it seems modestly better batteries (already available), faster recharging (pretty much promised) and lots more Supercharging stations (just money) will make the range and touring speed a non-issue.

SamO | May 22, 2013

Whatever the solution, it will have to be elegant. Whether through the APP integration and reservation systems for Supercharging and Swap or Service Center integration.

I think they are getting ready to offer:

1. Step up charge speed to at least 120kW

2. Swap for 60's at service centers for long distance travel, if you purchased Supercharger access for free or nominal per day cost.

3. Will keep your battery and return it to you.

4. You will be able to buy a battery upgrade at any time just by keeping the battery and pay difference.

5. A larger battery will be rolled out in connection with the Model X and then that will be available for swap.

jbeen | May 22, 2013

You do realize that the batteries are built into the framework of the car, so you can't just disconnect a few cables?

ian | May 23, 2013

You do realize that Elon himself has said that the battery can be swapped out in about 10 minutes?

I know it doesn't seem plausible especially since members here have dug into their cars and found pretty extensive connections to the frame and body work but he did say this so...

Brian H | May 23, 2013

There're these workers called "robots", see, that do stuff like that real fast. I hear the factory has a couple.

SamO | May 23, 2013

+100 Brian H

I've had lots of owners tell me that swap's IMPOSSIBLE since front and rear bumper have to be removed to get at the battery. This is not convincing given the state of Elon's engineering experience and how they are already using robots.

daoops | May 23, 2013

Thanks Brian, I kind of assumed that it had to do with problems handling enormous amounts of electrons in short time but thanks for making it clear. Do we know how many kW would be needed to charge the batteries in say 5 minutes?
Must tweeted "there is a way to charge faster than to fill an ICE..". Could more charge ports on the car and connect more chargers help? I know, there is just one on the car today. But "there is a way" does not have that many limitations in the statement itself, I mean could include installations of more charge ports. Behind the front "grill" for instance.
What I am aiming is if the need for kW to charge up in 10 minutes is 240kW, would two charge pors solve that with 120kW per charger?
Or am I missing a fundamental part?


Brian H | May 23, 2013

Changes to the body design are not part of the "plan", I warrant. Elon is talking about technique, I think, not hardware modification.

PorfirioR | May 23, 2013

I think we are almost there already. I admit that this is a little creative, but I simply want to illustrate how we are not that far.

Let's compare a Tesla Model S 250-mile one-way trip to that of an ICE vehicle
- "fill up" at home overnight: no wait
- supercharger fill-up en-route: 30 minutes
- "fill up" at destination overnight: no wait
Total time = 30 minutes

Drive to gas station at origin: ~10 minutes
Drive to gas station at destination: ~10 minutes
Fill up at gas station: ~5 minutes (x2): 10 minutes
Total time = 30 minutes

- I am assuming that we want to start with a full tank and end with a full tank.
- By "no wait" I mean not "actively" waiting for your car to fill up.
- All other potential stops (food, restroom) are left-out since they are not vehicle-dependent.
- I am also not including a fill-up en-route for the ICE assuming that it will cover the range without problem.

Of course, we would like the charging to be faster, as well as more superchargers. So any improvement in range and charging efficiency will give the EV even more of a leg up.

Brian H | May 24, 2013

Yes, works for 1 stop. Also, however, consider that the SC 30 min. is a half-fillup, assuming you're not topping off. The last 20% takes longer.

carlgo | May 24, 2013

I expect that Tesla has a plan to deal with the range issue. I do not think it involves battery swaps or any magic battery either. Looking at the display chassis, it is not clear that the the battery is quickly removable, and it will be years before hugely better batteries are affordable.

This is just too nice a car, and too fast and expensive, to limit it to driving behind trucks only to spend hours charging in some parking lot in the middle of the night in order to make it to grandma's house.

One of my kids thinks it is a combo food truck and charging station. Pull up, plug in, eat burritos. Not a bad idea. I think it is a combination of existing technologies, expanded.

JAFIC | May 26, 2013

I do not support the idea of battery swapping

JAGFOX | June 22, 2013

Looking through some old threads and came across this one ... Just wanted to give credit where credit was due. I'm sure you're not the only one, but still ... you pretty much nailed it teddyg.

carlgo | June 23, 2013

Well, I know I was completely wrong, never thought this was practical. Even Musk said it was an interim thing, so it is possible that just a few of these swap stations are actually going to be built and they will be only found on a few of the most heavily travelled routes. Maybe not so useful or even accessible to the average owner who commutes and takes to the road a few times a year on random routes.