Tesla Demos 90-Second Battery Swap

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What many people say needs to happen in order for mass adoption of electric cars has finally happened: a battery swap in less time than it takes to fill up a gasoline tank.

Late last week, Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk unveiled a new system that will let drivers of his companies’ Model S sedan swap out their battery in about 90 seconds. The presentation showed an Audi sedan being filled up with gasoline next to the Model S, taking 4 minutes to take on enough gas to fill the tank. Musk said that it would cost at least $50 for a driver to get a new battery, which sounds like a lot – until you hear that filling up the Audi’s tank cost nearly $100.

“The only decision you need to make when you come to one of our Tesla stations is, do you prefer faster or free,” Musk said. “Our goal here was to eliminate the objections that people have. We want to show that [Tesla] can actually be more convenient than a gasoline car. Hopefully this is what convinces people that electric cars are the future.”

Watch the video:

Fast Pack Swap Event from Tesla Motors on Vimeo.

Using the same type of machine that assembles the car’s battery pack in the factory, the “refill” station unbolts the battery, lowers it into the ground, raises a new one in to place, and retightens the bolts. Each machine will cost Tesla $500,000 but it’s a small price to pay to encourage more customers to see the value in electric cars. They plan to spend $100 million on stations across the country.

The bad side, if there is one, is that any driver wants their original battery back they will have to return to the same station in order to get it. If they won’t be passing by that station again but want it back they can have it shipped to them, or if they don’t mind that they don’t know the usage history of the battery currently in their car they can just keep the “new” one.

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