Tesla Begins Battery Swap Pilot Program in California

Faster or free? That was the question posed by Tesla CEO Elon Musk last year when he unveiled the company’s battery swap technology that, he claims, is faster than topping up a conventional premium saloon’s fuel tank.

Model S owners currently have the option of stopping at one of Tesla’s 312 stations and use one of the 1,748 Superchargers available to charge their vehicles’ battery. The only problem is that they have to wait for an hour to obtain a 400-mile (640 km) range, which may not be convenient.

Therefore Tesla has developed a scheme in which the driver will stop at a station and simply replace the EV’s depleted battery back for a fully charged one. This takes three minutes, or less than the time needed to top-up a premium saloon’s fuel tank with gas. Musk said that this is due to the time needed to remove the titanium and aluminum plates that shield the battery, otherwise it would take just a minute and it’s something the company is working on.

For the time being, Tesla is initiating a pilot program with invited Model S owners, who will be able to swap the battery at a custom-built station across the street from Tesla Superchargers at Harris Ranch, California.

The nag is that a. they will have to make an appointment and b. pay a fee, which Musk says will be “slightly less” than the cost of filling up a gas-powered premium saloon’s fuel tank.

We guess that most Model S owners will probably choose the fast option, i.e. the battery pack swap, when the tech becomes available to them. After all, time is money, right?

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