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. ®

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

More from The Register

next story
Xperia Z3: Crikey, Sony – ANOTHER flagship phondleslab?
The Fourth Amendment... and it IS better
Don't wait for that big iPad, order a NEXUS 9 instead, industry little bird says
Google said to debut next big slab, Android L ahead of Apple event
Microsoft to enter the STRUGGLE of the HUMAN WRIST
It's not just a thumb war, it's total digit war
Ex-US Navy fighter pilot MIT prof: Drones beat humans - I should know
'Missy' Cummings on UAVs, smartcars and dying from boredom
Netscape Navigator - the browser that started it all - turns 20
It was 20 years ago today, Marc Andreeesen taught the band to play
A drone of one's own: Reg buyers' guide for UAV fanciers
Hardware: Check. Software: Huh? Licence: Licence...?
The Apple launch AS IT HAPPENED: Totally SERIOUS coverage, not for haters
Fandroids, Windows Phone fringe-oids – you wouldn't understand
Apple SILENCES Bose, YANKS headphones from stores
The, er, Beats go on after noise-cancelling spat
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.