Tesla Motors commences real-world beta testing of Model S battery swaps in California

Tesla Motors officially announced to be launching its pilot program for Model S quick battery swaps in California and the automaker already began real-world beta testing.

Beginning in San Francisco and Los Angeles, Tesla Model S sedans can now have their batteries swapped out faster than it takes to get a quick oil change or even fill up for gas.

Tesla CEO, Elon Musk, has been promising to introduce the service and it seems he’s pretty much on schedule with its release. The battery swap program poses as a way for long-distance travelers to continue driving without much interruption, since a depleted battery still takes considerable time away from the trip, even with Tesla’s growing Supercharger network.

But here’s the catch: Tesla’s pushing for the battery swap since it’s faster than a gas tank fill-up and most of all, it’s free. Charging using a Supercharger also costs nearly the same as an average tank of gas.

For the statement, check out the release after the jump.

Battery Swap Pilot Program
By The Tesla Motors Team

At an event in Los Angeles last year, we showcased battery swap technology to demonstrate that it’s possible to replace a Model S battery in less time than it takes to fill a gas tank. This technology allows Model S owners in need of a battery charge the choice of either fast or free. The free long distance travel option is already well covered by our growing Supercharger network, which is now at 312 stations with more than 1,748 Superchargers worldwide. They allow Model S drivers to charge at 400 miles per hour. Now we’re starting exploratory work on the fast option.

Starting next week, we will pilot a pack swap program with invited Model S owners. They will be given the opportunity to swap their car’s battery at a custom-built facility located across the street from the Tesla Superchargers at Harris Ranch, CA. This pilot program is intended to test technology and assess demand.

At least initially, battery swap will be available by appointment and will cost slightly less than a full tank of gasoline for a premium sedan. More time is needed to remove the titanium and hardened aluminum ballistic plates that now shield the battery pack, so the swap process takes approximately three minutes.

With further automation and refinements on the vehicle side, we are confident that the swap time could be reduced to less than one minute, even with shields. Tesla will evaluate relative demand from customers for paid pack swap versus free charging to assess whether it merits the engineering resources and investment necessary for that upgrade.

Chris Chin

Editor-In-Chief of egmCarTech Freelance Automotive Journalist / Editor / Photographer

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