Feeds

Tesla unveils battery-swapping tech for fast car charging

Juiced up and on your way in 90 seconds

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

Even as Tesla Motors labors to build out its North American network of "Supercharger" recharging stations, the electric carmaker has unveiled an additional system that promises to get its vehicles juiced up and ready to run in less time than it takes to fill a traditional car's tank with fuel.

At an event at Tesla's Hawthorne, California design studio late on Thursday, founder Elon Musk showed off a system that can swap out a Tesla Model S's depleted battery for a fully charged one in around 90 seconds.

Motorists need never leave their vehicles. The driver simply parks the car over the designated spot and a platform rises from the ground, removes the 1,200-pound (544kg) battery from the underside of the chassis, and replaces it with a new one, all in around a minute and a half.

During Musk's demo, a screen overhead showed video of a motorist filling an Audi sedan's 23-gallon (87L) tank at a Los Angeles–area filling station, a process that took nearly four minutes. Musk took the opportunity to swap out a second Tesla's battery while he waited.

Unlike the company's Supercharger stations, which allow Tesla owners to recharge their batteries for free for the life of the car, Tesla plans to profit from the battery-swapping operation, CNNMoney reports.

A firm price for the service hasn't been set, but Musk has said he expects each swap to cost at least $50. During Thursday's demo, the Audi driver paid $99.83 to fill up, though many car models feature smaller tanks.

Faster than the pump: Elon Musk demos Tesla's new battery-swapping system

The batteries that are swapped in are just loaners. Each swapping station will stock about 50 batteries, which drivers are expected eventually to return in exchange for their own, original batteries. Their batteries will be fully charged, but they'll have to pay for a second swap to get them back.

If returning to the same swapping station is too inconvenient, customers can optionally pay to get their batteries shipped to a different service center, or they can keep the new batteries. In the latter case, they'll need to pay the difference in value between the new batteries and their original batteries, based on the batteries' respective ages.

Each swapping station is projected to cost around $500,000 to build, but it won't all be money out of Tesla's pocket. The 90-second swapping time helps Tesla meet the "fast refueling" requirement for zero-emissions vehicles set by the California Air Resources Board (CARB), which allows the cars to qualify for government clean-energy credits.

Because Tesla cars burn no fuel and they're manufactured in such small quantities relative to the big US automakers, Tesla actually earns surplus energy credits, which it can sell to other companies. Last quarter, such sales brought in $67.9m, which helped Tesla post its first-ever quarterly profit.

Musk said that if there is sufficient interest, Tesla would also consider licensing its battery-swapping technology to other companies.

Meanwhile, Tesla has been working hard to expand its network of free-to-use Supercharger recharging stations, which it expects to cover 80 per cent of the US and Canada by 2014.

The battery-swapping stations will be installed as an additional option at select Supercharger locations along high-traffic routes, and the first stations are expected to appear late this year. ®

The essential guide to IT transformation

More from The Register

next story
Apple's iWatch? They cannae do it ... they don't have the POWER
Analyst predicts fanbois will have to wait until next year
The agony and ecstasy of SteamOS: WHERE ARE MY GAMES?
And yes it does need a fat HDD (or SSD, it's cool with either)
Barnes & Noble: Swallow a Samsung Nook tablet, please ... pretty please
Novelslab finally on sale with ($199 - $20) price tag
Kate Bush: Don't make me HAVE CONTACT with your iPHONE
Can't face sea of wobbling fondle implements. What happened to lighters, eh?
Apple to build WORLD'S BIGGEST iStore in Dubai
It's not the size of your shiny-shiny...
Just in case? Unverified 'supersize me' iPhone 6 pics in sneak leak peek
Is bigger necessarily better for the fruity firm's flagship phone?
Steve Jobs had BETTER BALLS than Atari, says Apple mouse designer
Xerox? Pff, not even in the same league as His Jobsiness
Apple analyst: fruity firm set to shift 75 million iPhones
We'll have some of whatever he's having please
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
7 Elements of Radically Simple OS Migration
Avoid the typical headaches of OS migration during your next project by learning about 7 elements of radically simple OS migration.
BYOD's dark side: Data protection
An endpoint data protection solution that adds value to the user and the organization so it can protect itself from data loss as well as leverage corporate data.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?