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Tesla To Build Its Own Battery-Swap Stations

Soulskill posted about a year ago | from the can-somebody-please-make-this-for-phone-batteries dept.

Transportation 377

New submitter lfp98 writes "Just a month after the collapse of independent battery-swap company Better Place, the uniquely successful maker of luxury electric cars, Tesla, has announced it will provide its own battery-swap capability for its Model S sedans. The first stations will be built adjacent to Tesla's charging stations on the SF-to-LA route, and a swap will take no longer than filling a gas tank. From the article: 'A battery pack swap will cost between $60 and $80, about the same as filling up a 15-gallon gas tank,' Musk said. 'Drivers who choose to swap must reclaim their original battery on their return trip or pay the difference in cost for the new pack.'"

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Really? (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44069331)

Really? We can get this for cars but many of our latest phones and laptops don't have accessible or replaceable batteries?

Re:Really? (0)

h4rr4r (612664) | about a year ago | (#44069511)

So don't buy those. Dell has an ultrabook with a swappable battery and the S4 seems to be all the rage.

Re:Really? (-1, Offtopic)

Joce640k (829181) | about a year ago | (#44069663)

many of our latest phones and laptops don't have accessible or replaceable batteries?

Only if you buy the overpriced ones...

Re:Really? (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44069739)

many of our latest phones and laptops don't have accessible or replaceable batteries?

Only if you buy the overpriced ones...

With Tesla being an economy brand I can see your point.

reclaim their original battery? (1, Insightful)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | about a year ago | (#44069343)

that seems like a dumb idea for a car makeing a big trip why not make it like propane exchange where you do not have to due that?

Re:reclaim their original battery? (5, Insightful)

Overzeetop (214511) | about a year ago | (#44069361)

Unlike propane tanks, it's a huge deal to refurbish a battery pack. You could "refill" your EOL battery pack for an $80 swap and get a new battery pack. Or, worse for the consumer, swap your brand new pack for a recharged pack that is nearing EOL. At $10k+ for a full sized battery (I'm guessing, too lazy to look it up), that's a pretty big fail for one side or the other.

Re:reclaim their original battery? (5, Insightful)

cnaumann (466328) | about a year ago | (#44069513)

A better solution would be to simply lease the batteries and not worry about getting the originals back. The lease would cover wear and tear.

I imagine most people would want their original packs back.

Re:reclaim their original battery? (3, Informative)

oobayly (1056050) | about a year ago | (#44069801)

That's what Renault do. However it causes my company some headaches when it comes to underwriting them for dealerships - the batteries are leased by the owner, so the car will effectively have no battery when it is part exchanged for a new vehicle. Not many dealerships are keen on leasing a set of batteries for a car that they will (hopefully) sell within 90 days, or (more likely) trade out of.

Re:reclaim their original battery? (1)

jimbolauski (882977) | about a year ago | (#44070113)

With Tesla's model of owning the dealerships they may avoid this problem, although the problem of the owner selling the car or trading it in to a non-Tesla dealership does become an issue.

Re:reclaim their original battery? (1)

lobiusmoop (305328) | about a year ago | (#44069965)

Makes sense. If it flies, floats or flux, always rent it.

Re:reclaim their original battery? (4, Insightful)

wvmarle (1070040) | about a year ago | (#44069723)

Propane tanks also don't have an infinite life. Over time they start to rust, the screw threads wear out, etc. One way or another that cost will be paid by the end user, either through a filling fee or in the cost of the fuel.

A difference of course is that a propane tank's capacity doesn't decrease over time, which is a typical issue of batteries, making a swap harder.

On the other hand indeed I'd rather see a station outright swapping batteries, and where you pay for the amount of energy you get. However that's tricky: battery capacities vary with age, and your depleted battery is not empty (as otherwise you wouldn't make it to the battery station), and the amount of energy to be added to fully charge it depends on that. Somehow smart battery monitoring electronics will have to take care of that. And when that's done, it should work quite reliably.

The final step is going to be to have all car manufacturers agree on a certain standard, instead of having numerous competing standards. "One size fits all" is impossible as cars have different sizes, so maybe we should go for battery packs: small cars carry ten batteries, big cars carry 20, trucks 50. Like current gas tanks. Thinking of it, this could also solve the "rest charge" issue as the car could use the batteries one by one, starting to use one when the previous one is depleted. Or using 2, 3 at a time to get sufficient power, same principle applies.

Re:reclaim their original battery? (1)

markass530 (870112) | about a year ago | (#44070077)

so you're saying you didn't even bother to read the summary? people must reclaim their original batteries

Re:reclaim their original battery? (2)

crakbone (860662) | about a year ago | (#44069375)

The batteries degrade over a time period much shorter than a propane tank. However if you take a couple of trips you will save some amount of degradation on your own pack for each trip. You may want to just wait and let the station charge the car however as the costs are much cheaper.

Re:reclaim their original battery? (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44069405)

This battery swap system is going to fail. If you have to pick up your original battery on the return trip, how do you swap multiple times to drive cross country? Time limits? That won't work. Have to take the same route back? That's not going to work either. So Tesla is just building these swap stations to satisfy short-haul driving for the Model S. When the Model X comes out, we will still have this same problem so now you're just buying an SUV just because (you're not taking it off road, and you're not going on roadtrips).

This will be Telsa's Achilles Heel

Re:reclaim their original battery? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44069531)

Shut up you ignorant fuck. You know nothing, and probably work at McDonalds. Just fucking shut it.

Re:reclaim their original battery? (2)

h4rr4r (612664) | about a year ago | (#44069537)

Very few, a couple percent tops ever take their SUV off road.

They can ship the battery to where ever you are going to be.

Worst case Tesla drops the idea and continues on with the current plans. Soon batteries will charge fast enough to make this pointless. They can already do half the battery in 20 minutes, cut that in half again and the problem is essentially solved. A 10 minute stop every 150 miles is not a big deal.

Re:reclaim their original battery? (5, Insightful)

Alioth (221270) | about a year ago | (#44069791)

Unfortunately batteries won't with that speed for any reasonable definition of "soon". 150 miles will be about 50kWh. A 10 minute stop will involve 2 minutes of faffing around (drawing up, parking, connecting, disconnecting, etc) meaning 8 minutes charging time. 50kWh in 8 minutes would require a charging system delivering 375kW of power assuming it's 100% efficient.

80,000 people live in my general area. Now let's imagine everyone has electric cars that can charge in 8 minutes. If we think how many people are fuelling their cars right now, there's probably right at this moment while I type - at a rough guess - at least 30 people putting petrol in their cars somewhere in my vicinity, and this is to fill a tank that lasts on average 400 miles. Reduce this to 150 miles and you're looking at almost tripling the "filling up" activity, so probably around 80 people simultaneously quick charging. This will require an increase in generating capacity of 30 megawatts. Our peak electricity usage now is about 30 to 35MW, so this effectively needs you have to double the generating capacity to do this.

So for rapid charging electric cars to be practical in anything other than really small numbers, it'll be years off just because the grid will need a significant upgrade. This is before considering the engineering that has to go into designing a charging system that delivers 375kW and has to be hooked up by the average car owner safely, not a specially trained operator. It's going to require high voltages just to keep the currents reasonable (at 11,000 volts you're still looking at about 35 amps).

Re:reclaim their original battery? (4, Informative)

h4rr4r (612664) | about a year ago | (#44069807)

So all the gasoline you use comes in a pipeline from the refinery to your car or is it stored at the gas station in a tank?

The station would charge a large storage system and draw off of that. Normally charging would also be done at home at night, not at these stations.

Re:reclaim their original battery? (2)

wvmarle (1070040) | about a year ago | (#44069915)

And that's the trick: storing large quantities of electrical energy and having this available quickly is not possible with current technology. You can't take a tank of electricity like you take a tank of gasoline.

Besides, the power draw is going to be around 30 MW regardless on whether you fast- or slow charge the car. When charging slow, the time per car increases, and the number of cars simultaneously charging increases proportionally.

Re:reclaim their original battery? (0)

h4rr4r (612664) | about a year ago | (#44069963)

Actually it is, it just is not cheap enough yet. Thankfully we are not talking about doing this today. Doubt all you want, but this is what will happen.

At night there is lots of idle power, not everyone will switch to electrics at once.

Re:reclaim their original battery? (2, Insightful)

Agent0013 (828350) | about a year ago | (#44070155)

To me it sounds like complaining that there is no way everyone could have broadband at their home because the phone lines could not handle that much data. When there is demand for it there will be solutions developed.

Re:reclaim their original battery? (2)

wvmarle (1070040) | about a year ago | (#44070193)

I don't doubt fast charge will happen (supercapacitors, recently a story about Al based batteries, whatever). It's just not there, and doesn't mitigate the simple fact that we need to roughly double electrical power generation if we want to run all our cars electric.

And sure, lots of idle power overnight. After midnight, when everybody is sleeping - not at 18:00 when they come home and plug in their car to charge overnight. Of course that can be solved again (timers on the chargers or so), it's not that straightforward either. And charging 50 kWh in say eight hours means a power draw of 6.25 kW. 27 amps at European 230V, or about 60 amps on US 110V. Many houses don't have that much power available, and even if they have, the cables in the street are not up to everybody actually using that much, so that requires expensive upgrades of the local distribution networks.

Re:reclaim their original battery? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44069907)

80,000 people live in my general area. Now let's imagine everyone has electric cars that can charge in 8 minutes. If we think how many people are fuelling their cars right now, there's probably right at this moment while I type - at a rough guess - at least 30 people putting petrol in their cars somewhere in my vicinity, and this is to fill a tank that lasts on average 400 miles. Reduce this to 150 miles and you're looking at almost tripling the "filling up" activity, so probably around 80 people simultaneously quick charging. This will require an increase in generating capacity of 30 megawatts.

There's one HUGE flaw in your logic. You are basing your figures on how many people are currently filling up their gasoline cars, and then extrapolating that out to electric. However, how many of those people have a gasoline pump at their house that could fill their car up overnight? If people could easily fill up their cars at home each night, do you think there would still be 30 people at the pump at any given time? Or do you think that more than 80% of them would never need to visit a gas station during their normal daily driving?

Re:reclaim their original battery? (1)

taiwanjohn (103839) | about a year ago | (#44070015)

This. Also, Musk has repeatedly said his charging stations will be powered by solar PV arrays. (Thus, his catchy slogan: "Drive anywhere, for free, on pure sunlight.") Plus, it will be quite a while before we get to the massive scale described by the GP. Even at 20k units per year, they'll have plenty of time to build-out the charge/swap network and increase its capacity as needed.

Re:reclaim their original battery? (2)

Agent0013 (828350) | about a year ago | (#44070177)

There's one HUGE flaw in your logic. You are basing your figures on how many people are currently filling up their gasoline cars, and then extrapolating that out to electric. However, how many of those people have a gasoline pump at their house that could fill their car up overnight? If people could easily fill up their cars at home each night, do you think there would still be 30 people at the pump at any given time? Or do you think that more than 80% of them would never need to visit a gas station during their normal daily driving?

You make a very good point. But you also have a flaw in your thinking. Many people, especially in large cities, live in apartments with no parking. If you need to park your car on the street you will need to use filling stations to recharge it. Yes, people with homes and garages can plug in at night, but many people will not be able to do that.

Re:reclaim their original battery? (2)

AnotherAnonymousUser (972204) | about a year ago | (#44070101)

There's been that talk of the mini nuclear reactors for a few years now, and a number of prototypes made to power neighborhoods. That's exactly the kind of distributed power generation that would make EV very attractive technology without straining the grid. It could make for a very interesting and effective pairing if either one ever became common enough to foster the growth of the other.

Re:reclaim their original battery? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44070175)

Unfortunately batteries won't with that speed for any reasonable definition of "soon". 150 miles will be about 50kWh. A 10 minute stop will involve 2 minutes of faffing around (drawing up, parking, connecting, disconnecting, etc) meaning 8 minutes charging time. 50kWh in 8 minutes would require a charging system delivering 375kW of power assuming it's 100% efficient.

80,000 people live in my general area. Now let's imagine everyone has electric cars that can charge in 8 minutes. If we think how many people are fuelling their cars right now, there's probably right at this moment while I type - at a rough guess - at least 30 people putting petrol in their cars somewhere in my vicinity, and this is to fill a tank that lasts on average 400 miles. Reduce this to 150 miles and you're looking at almost tripling the "filling up" activity, so probably around 80 people simultaneously quick charging. This will require an increase in generating capacity of 30 megawatts. Our peak electricity usage now is about 30 to 35MW, so this effectively needs you have to double the generating capacity to do this.

So for rapid charging electric cars to be practical in anything other than really small numbers, it'll be years off just because the grid will need a significant upgrade. This is before considering the engineering that has to go into designing a charging system that delivers 375kW and has to be hooked up by the average car owner safely, not a specially trained operator. It's going to require high voltages just to keep the currents reasonable (at 11,000 volts you're still looking at about 35 amps).

While I agree with your line of thought, I think you're missing a few things in your argument, which drastically changes your conclusion.
1. of the 80k people living in your area, not all of them are going to be driving electric cars. some kids below driving age, some really old people who live in retirement homes, some unable to afford an electric car. let's say thatis 1/3 of the people. now you're down to 55k people
2. of the 55k people, how many drive more than 150 miles one way on an average day? 4-5%? now we're down to 2.5k people. there are 1260 8-minute chunks in a week, so averaging 2 simultaneous users. of course double that to account for people not quick-charging in middle of night, and triple that for say peak times vs. off peak times, and we're still at 12 simultaneous users
So we're looking at 4 MW additional load, or about 10-15%.
I think the missing logic is that while normal cars must fill up at gas stations, electric cars can and will be mostly filled up at home (let's assume one has to pay a premium for the convenience of an 8 minute charge instead of an 8 hour overnight charge) or work (hey if you're gonna assume EV's are this popular it's not a stretch for offices to provide some charging capacity).

Re:reclaim their original battery? (4, Interesting)

serviscope_minor (664417) | about a year ago | (#44069821)

A 10 minute stop every 150 miles is not a big deal.

You say that but on the last Tesla thread there were legions (well maybe one or two) of slashdotters who claimed that they regurlarly drove 7 hours without a break so clearly this will be a deal breaker for them and everyone else.

This steps around most of the problem, but now you'll have people who regularly drive 7 hours to completely random uncorrelated locations without a break. Naturally of course electric cars are unsuitable for the general population as a result.

Some people here seem to be very emotionally invested in the idea that electric cars will fail. I'm unclear as to why, but they will find all manner of bizarre excuses and rare use cases for why electric cars will fail.

The thing is electric vehicles have dominated well in certain niches and as tech improves the niches will expand, as they are expanding right now.

Re:reclaim their original battery? (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about a year ago | (#44069835)

Yeah, slashdot has a lot of liars. Also a surprising amount of luddites.

I can't wait for an affordable electric car. I looked at the leaf, but still just too much for me. Getting ~50mpg in a my current ride is also limiting my desire. As a second car a subcompact/compact like the Leaf would be perfect if it was just a little cheaper. I know it is just a matter of time.

Re:reclaim their original battery? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44070091)

A 10 minute stop every 150 miles is not a big deal.

If you're only driving about 300 miles or less, then it wouldn't be a big deal. This is the main problem with the idea of long distance travel with an electric car. The people advocating it apparently never do actual long distance driving. I'm talking like 1000 miles (which I have done before several times). At 10 minutes per 150 miles, that would be approximately an hour. I gather that the 10 minutes is assuming that you don't have to wait in line to charge up. In general, with a gas station, no waiting time, and only fueling up you could be in and out in 5 or 6 minutes. Combining that with being able to keep driving longer on a single tank, it's clear that there is a lot of work to do to sell people on electric cars for long distance travel.

Electric 10 min/150m - 1000 miles: ~6 stops or ~60 minutes
Gas 6 min/350m - 1000 miles: ~3 stops or ~18 minutes

That being said, I still want an electric car for daily driving because it would likely save more money than it would cost me (as long as it wasn't a Tesla, heh...). But I'm not going to get rid of my current car if I do get an EV. Ease:Quality of use ratio is always the final determining factor in any product's success.

Re:reclaim their original battery? (2)

h4rr4r (612664) | about a year ago | (#44070147)

Annually I drive from NY state to TX.

I stop every 2 hours and so should you.

Re:reclaim their original battery? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44069615)

The batteries degrade over a time period much shorter than a propane tank....

Yes, a bit off-topic, but it's ironic that we're sitting here talking about the longevity of a propane tank when I have yet to find a single gas grill manufacturer that can make a grill worth a shit to outlast the tank.

I usually only have to give up my propane tank when they deem them "unsafe" due to some new valve or knob design, forcing everyone to upgrade. In the meantime, I've rusted out three "stainless" grills.

Re:reclaim their original battery? (1)

RenderSeven (938535) | about a year ago | (#44069825)

I've rusted out three "stainless" grills.

Continuing OT, 'stainless' is not much more than marketing BS. The burners and heat diffusers (you know, the parts that actually are subject to high heat and rust) are made of recycled tin cans and auto bumpers. And replacement parts are priced carefully to be almost but not quite as much as a new grill. Not sure if I should load it into my truck and park it outside of the Sears mall entrance with a huge "Piece of Shit" sign on it for a few days, or just dump the remains in front of the door. If Tesla comes out with a battery-operated grill though, put me on the waiting list.

Re:reclaim their original battery? (1)

oobayly (1056050) | about a year ago | (#44069863)

Christ, how big is your propane tank? A friend has a gas barbecue that he's had for about 6 years. It's been kept permanently outside (UK) and he often forgets to the cover on, meaning that the heat reflector under the grill has rusted to buggery. The cast iron grill, plate and jets are in perfect condition. Admittedly the jets have had to be re drilled twice as the iron oxide was restricting flow, but that's it.

It also gets used a hell of a lot - the earliest I've cooked on it (his wife calls it my barbecue, it's just that her husband happens to own it) was on New Year's day. Maybe a grill is different from barbecue, and I'm comparing apples to oranges.

Re:reclaim their original battery? (1)

Bradmont (513167) | about a year ago | (#44069391)

It would be more expensive. I'm guessing the car batteries have a limited lifespan, and loose capacity over time. You have the option of keeping the snow one (it says so in the summary) but you have to pay the difference in value. Using your propane tank comparison, I can fill my propane tank for $11, or swap it for $20. Since I really only need to replace the tank every 5 or more years, a new one costs about $35, and I go through say 3 tanks a summer... Well, do the math.

Re:reclaim their original battery? (3, Insightful)

Dan East (318230) | about a year ago | (#44069423)

The article is light on details, but it doesn't seem possible to always swap out with brand new batteries. Each battery pack keeps track of the exact number of charges and discharges, temperature levels, etc. So essentially the "age" of the battery is known. I would think Tesla would pro-rate the exchanges and charge based on how much newer the replacement battery is. The real question is whether customers swapping the other way (getting an older battery for their newer one) will be paid by Tesla for that difference as well.

Re:reclaim their original battery? (0)

cyborg_monkey (150790) | about a year ago | (#44069499)

Why don't you learn how to english.

Re:reclaim their original battery? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44069657)

that seems like a dumb idea for a car makeing a big trip why not make it like propane exchange where you do not have to due that?

*sigh* I wish moderators would stop upmodding comments that were very obviously made by twelve year old children. First, the childish lack of capitalization is a dead giveaway. Second the lack of any punctuation is almost as big a giveaway. Third, misspelling of a six letter word (making) shows that the commenter is barely literate, and the misspelling of a TWO LETTER WORD shows that this kid can barely read.

And you fools gave him a three. What's wrong with you people?

Here is a literate version of Joe's comment (I notice he's not above using capitals in his user name)

That seems like a dumb idea for a car making a big trip. Why not make it like a propane exchange, where you do not have to do that?

Re: reclaim their original battery? (0)

rhumbliner (984081) | about a year ago | (#44069823)

off topic, but lack of capitalization is *not* a sign of poor english skills. most folks see capitalization as an anachronism. i suggest you google e. e. cummings.

Re: reclaim their original battery? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44070179)

most folks see capitalization as an anachronism.

Bullshit. Just look at the posts here and you'll see that most of them use proper capitalization. Most people see capitalization as a normal part of writing, so they continue doing it and only a blind man or a fool who ignores the proof before his very eyes could believe otherwise.

Even if that wasn't the case, "everyone else is doing that way" has always been and will always be most idiotic excuse in this history of mankind.

Re:reclaim their original battery? (1)

ganjadude (952775) | about a year ago | (#44070057)

not insightful, OT mods

Great idea; Catastrophic execution (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44069797)

Battery swap stations with cheaper prices than fuel are *the* killer feature that would everyone switch to electric with their next car.
And since solar power is nearly free, that should not be a problem.

But these high prices, lack of performance guarantees, and the expectation to pay even more for the new pack or be forced to take it back murders the concept in its crib. A false flag operation to destroy it couldn't have been worse thought out without losing believability.

I don't get what the problem is...
There *already* exists a system for returnable starter batteries (at least here in Germany), which works similar to returnable bottles.
Just build an automatic underground storage for batteries, which automatically keeps the batteries charged, using solar power (cheap!), and automatically marks all batteries below a certain performance (amount of energy it can store and wattage it can deliver) for recycling. Then every month or so a truck comes, and replaces all the dead ones with new ones.
You drive above it, a machine (e.g. a on a rail) detaches the empty pack (if it is of the right type), moves it to the storage, takes a new one out of storage, attaches it meanwhile you pay using the terminal, or a mobile phone app... and off you go.
You wouldn't even have to leave the damn car!

The price would just be the money to keep the refill stations and batteries alive (= recharging, repair, replacement, modernization), divided by the number of clients, plus your profit. That's it.

If that's not profitable, say that publicly (so that nobody misses it), and we know what's up! If it is, *do it*. What's the hold-up?

Gas (3, Insightful)

Dan East (318230) | about a year ago | (#44069369)

A battery pack swap will cost between $60 and $80, about the same as filling up a 15-gallon gas tank,

It costs $47.25 to fill up a 15 gallon tank here. However this isn't California, thank God.

Re:Gas (1)

LWATCDR (28044) | about a year ago | (#44069441)

Yea that seemed about double what a fill up costs here. That is well over $5 a gallon plus you need to pick up your old battery pack. In other words the Tesla is still not suitable for long trips. You would be better off renting a car for those trips if you want to have a Tesla. AKA it is still a toy for the well to do.

Re:Gas (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44069523)

You need to work on your math: 15*4 = 60, 15*5 = 85.

Re:Gas (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44069753)

You need to work on your math: 15*4 = 60, 15*5 = 85

Oh the irony.

Re:Gas (2)

Saethan (2725367) | about a year ago | (#44069767)

You need to work on your math: 15*4 = 60, 15*5 = 85.

You need to work on your math

15*5 = ? [wolframalpha.com]

Just sayin'

Re:Gas (4, Insightful)

h4rr4r (612664) | about a year ago | (#44069559)

You do a lot of one way long distance trips?
Just hit the same stations on the way back as the way out.

All luxury cars are a toy for the well to do. Else they would just buy a corolla.

Why does this car have to justify itself in dollars if a Porsche does not?

Re:Gas (1)

RenderSeven (938535) | about a year ago | (#44069881)

All luxury cars are a toy for the well to do

If you're billing hourly then commuting in an SL600 at 120mph gives you another hour a day billable time, and after the tax write-off for the business lease and expenses (including tickets) you can turn a profit on it. If you live.

Re:Gas (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about a year ago | (#44069895)

Not around here. You will end up in jail for going that far over the speed limit.

Nor would you find any roads suitable for that speed. Pot holes at 60 are a real danger, at 120 you die.

Re:Gas (1)

engun (1234934) | about a year ago | (#44069569)

Well, that didn't take long!

Re:Gas (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44069675)

Sour grapes.

Re:Gas (2)

QuasiSteve (2042606) | about a year ago | (#44069463)

A battery pack swap will cost between $60 and $80, about the same as filling up a 15-gallon gas tank,

It costs $47.25 to fill up a 15 gallon tank here. However this isn't California, thank God.

It costs $134.50 to fill up a 15 gallon tank here. However this isn't even the U.S.(, thank God?)

Assuming most of the cost is in management and storage of the batteries and man hours for the actual swapping, then something like that coming to this region of the world would be extremely attractive - especially next to the quick charge option.

Re:Gas (1)

Overzeetop (214511) | about a year ago | (#44069601)

No, they will create energy surcharge taxes to provide you with your $130 swap fee, just as it's taxes (and not oil or refinery costs) which drive your current fuel costs. FWIW, I currently pay about 10c/litre in tax on my fuel (38.6c/US gallon).

Re:Gas (1)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | about a year ago | (#44070125)

It costs $134.50 to fill up a 15 gallon tank here.

. . . most of that $134.50 is probably taxes . . .

However this isn't even the U.S.(, thank God?).

American folks had some rather unpleasant experiences with England over taxes. Americans of all political colors tend to frown on excessive taxes, for something that is seemed as a basic necessity.

Electric cars are subsidized now by governments. As soon as they start being successful, the governments will start taxing them, too!

Re:Gas (1)

tlambert (566799) | about a year ago | (#44069515)

A battery pack swap will cost between $60 and $80, about the same as filling up a 15-gallon gas tank,

It costs $47.25 to fill up a 15 gallon tank here. However this isn't California, thank God.

Actually, it's $52.35 in California, if you go to one of several Bay Arco stations not in San Francisco or Los Angeles. So even in California, it's between ~$8.00 and $28.00 higher than filling up a 15 gallon gas tank. So swapping out the battery pack can be up to 150% the cost, if it comes in at the high end of things. I guess electric vehicles are only cheaper to operate if you build some more nuclear plants to make cheaper electricity.

Re:Gas (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about a year ago | (#44069577)

Is that Top Tier gas?
Pretty much all your luxury cars should be running that, and many regular cars.

Electric cars are cheaper if you charge at night. Lots of unused power then.

Re:Gas (4, Informative)

dywolf (2673597) | about a year ago | (#44069669)

Wrong about this topic too.
Man you just can't catch a break.

Few or no "regular" mass market car needs more than regular gas.
Some luxury or performance cars, with a high performance engine with high compression ratios, will run more efficiently with it, but even then its not required because of the anti-knock sensors that are standard and have been for a while now. you lose a little performance, but they adjust the timing.

Read the manual.
If it says the words "premium required" then fine, you might actually need it.
If says "recommended" or nothing at all, and this is the overwhelming majority of vehicles, then premium is a waste of $$.

http://auto.howstuffworks.com/premium-gas-luxury-vehicles.htm [howstuffworks.com]
http://lifehacker.com/5846880/should-i-use-premium-gas-in-my-car [lifehacker.com]

Re:Gas (1)

drummerboybac (1003077) | about a year ago | (#44069757)

My $25k Subaru(in 2003) says premium required, and further says if no premium is available to get the minimum amount of regular to get to a gas station that has premium.

Re:Gas (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44070093)

My $25k Subaru(in 2003) says premium required, and further says if no premium is available to get the minimum amount of regular to get to a gas station that has premium.

TURBO's are NOT normal cars.. Especially wrx's...

Re:Gas (2)

h4rr4r (612664) | about a year ago | (#44069785)

Top Tier has nothing to do with octane rating.
Man you are a stupid troll.

http://www.toptiergas.com/ [toptiergas.com]

Re:Gas (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44069837)

My engine requires 93 octane minimum and higher is recommended. It was built in 1981 and does not have these fancy "anti-knock sensors" of which you speak.

Re:Gas (2)

swillden (191260) | about a year ago | (#44069867)

I guess electric vehicles are only cheaper to operate if you build some more nuclear plants to make cheaper electricity.

The electricity cost of that full battery is negligible. At 12 cents per kWh, an 85 kWh battery costs $10.20 to fill. Also, I believe Tesla's plan is to power all of their superchargers with solar power, so presumably they'd use the same source for filling the battery packs for swapping. Hmm... to make the supercharger stations work they have to have large batteries on-site to accumulate the current from the solar canopy. I wonder if perhaps they're using car battery packs for that storage and are just looking at delivering that stored energy in a different way.

+1 for building some more nuclear plants to make cheaper electricity, though :-)

Ha Ha Ha (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44069541)

Using the UK price of approx £1.40 per liter, and the Sterling to USD exchange rate quoted on xe.com, it would cost £95.34 or $147.13 to fill a 15-gallon tank in the UK.

You never had it so good...

Re:Ha Ha Ha (2)

Faluzeer (583626) | about a year ago | (#44069845)

Using the UK price of approx £1.40 per liter, and the Sterling to USD exchange rate quoted on xe.com, it would cost £95.34 or $147.13 to fill a 15-gallon tank in the UK.

You never had it so good...

You are confusing uk gallons with US Gallons. There are 3.78541 Liters to a US Gallon, whereas in the UK it is 4.54609 liters to a gallon.

Re:Gas (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44069543)

15 gallons that is ~57liters, will cost ~120usd here ...

Re:Gas (1)

zazzel (98233) | about a year ago | (#44069827)

It costs US$ 103-118 (depending on whether it's diesel or not) where *I* live, so still a bargain :-)

Idiotic (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44069385)

This sounds like a good idea, but certainly does not scale and is a logistics nightmare, as Better Place will attest.

Elon should watch the movie Disclosure. "Focus on the problem". And the problem to be solved is getting recharge time down to 3-4 minutes. It's a sweet technical problem and the peeps who solve it will own the industry.

Re:Idiotic (2)

h4rr4r (612664) | about a year ago | (#44069591)

10 minutes would be good enough if we are talking a 200-300 mile charge. People have bodily functions they need to perform about that often.

Re:Idiotic (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44069817)

That is, until Elon announces the electric toilet, which was in the driver's seat of the Model S all along.

Re:Idiotic (2)

wvmarle (1070040) | about a year ago | (#44069941)

It also enforces regular breaks, so drivers don't continue for 8-10 hours straight. Another plus for road safety.

Re:Idiotic (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44069831)

Ah yes, the old "You should have a magic wand" solution.

He is focusing on the problem. The problem is it takes too long to charge a standard electric car, and he's offering two solutions, neither of which involve the magic ability to improve technology at a pace hundreds of times faster than has been historically possible. Batteries are an industrial technology, they are not subject to Moore's law.

It took over 12 hours to recharge an electric car a few years ago (still does, on some models). Tesla offers a 30 minute recharge to 80%ish capacity for free and now a quick battery swap in 3-4 minutes. Sorry if it's not the same method you'd like in your dreams, but it is a 3-4 minute solution to a fully charged electric car. Personally, I'm disappointed it didn't use a giant Tesla coil zapping the roof of the car, but their system works.

Better Place offered one car that no one really wanted to drive. Tesla's Model S won car of the year from several magazines, despite the prejudices against electrics of many car magazine writers, and the main reasons it won had nothing to do with the fact it was electric. By all the reviews (I've never even seen one, let alone driven one) it's a fantastic car that happens to be electric. It is also a premium luxury car, not a midrange eco-box, and you only pay when you're in a hurry for the quick swap, the 30 minute recharge is still free. Better Place's Renault Fluence ZE's cost $300-$400 per month for the quick swap service (subscription, so you don't save money charging at home) on top of a $35,000 purchase for a fairly ugly, boring car that's more expensive, 600 lbs. heavier and way slower (top speed of 84 MPH) than the otherwise identical gasoline/diesel models.

"Does not scale" and "logistics nightmare" were arguments applied to Space X, too. I'm guessing he's done some research on this one too.

Re:Idiotic (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44070011)

You miss the point, this is just Elon coming up with more useless impractical schemes to keep his company in the news.

Can this work for existing Teslas? (3, Insightful)

Shoten (260439) | about a year ago | (#44069397)

We have a Tesla showroom near where I live, and I've actually been there twice (it's in a major shopping mall...granted, this is in a fairly affluent area). They have two cars on display, along with just the undercarriage of the car...the part that holds the batteries. That section holds the bottom of the car, and the batteries are framed by the frame of the car's body itself, if not also welded or bolted in. The entire bottom of the car is battery...even with the entire upper body and cabin of the car absent, you can put your foot on the front bumper, step up, and walk down the whole length of the car without having the slightest chance of putting your foot through and touching ground. I can't imagine how such a massive battery pack (it's not thin, either) could weigh a small amount either.

So...I have to wonder...if I'd bought one of these cars yesterday, how in the hell would they be able to swap all of those batteries out in 90 seconds? If they were as light as empty cardboard boxes, I'd have trouble swapping them all simply because of the bulk. And there's no way they weigh that little, or are that easily dislodged.

Re:Can this work for existing Teslas? (2)

Another, completely (812244) | about a year ago | (#44069447)

...how in the hell would they be able to swap all of those batteries out in 90 seconds? If they were as light as empty cardboard boxes, I'd have trouble swapping them all simply because of the bulk. And there's no way they weigh that little, or are that easily dislodged.

I think you've spotted the reason the stations will cost about a half-million dollars each. Assume a machine will do the lifting.

Re:Can this work for existing Teslas? (1)

nschubach (922175) | about a year ago | (#44069795)

How about a nice simple hydraulic lift? They make hydraulic lifts for entire cars for about $5k. I can't imagine it's hard to refit those to lift a battery into the undercarriage of a car so someone can put in a few bolts.

Re:Can this work for existing Teslas? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44069611)

You can see a (PR/marketing) video here of the swap: http://www.teslamotors.com/batteryswap

(it's a little hard to see at first, but the battery gets swapped out of the car from beneath).

$80 per 15 gallons of gas (1)

tippe (1136385) | about a year ago | (#44069443)

You guys (Americans) pay up to $80 per 15 gallons of gas? That's over $5/gallon. Even I don’t pay that much and I live in Canada. I was under the impression that Americans wouldn't tolerate anything over $4/gallon and if the cost did go above that, there would be anarchy in the streets. Perhaps I'm just mis-informed...

Anyway, aren't the batteries under the trunk liner? So, in order to swap your battery during a shopping/camping/golf trip, wouldn't you need to empty your trunk first, then wrench out your back pulling out the used batteries (probably leaving a grease mark on your pants in the process), then wrench it again putting in the new ones? Sounds like fun...

Re:$80 per 15 gallons of gas (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44069653)

You guys (Americans) pay up to $80 per 15 gallons of gas? That's over $5/gallon. Even I don’t pay that much and I live in Canada. I was under the impression that Americans wouldn't tolerate anything over $4/gallon and if the cost did go above that, there would be anarchy in the streets. Perhaps I'm just mis-informed...

Yes, just mis-informed. Apathy has taken over in America. Citizens no longer give a shit as long as they can get their happy pills and alcohol. Fuck with those, and you'll have anarchy in the streets, but gas? Pfft. Prices in my area went up 15 cents overnight for no damn reason whatsoever other than the sun happened to rise in the same place as it did the day before.

Re:$80 per 15 gallons of gas (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44069773)

It really just depends on what part of the US one lives in. States like California have a high population density and minimal agriculture so the average citizen in these areas have access to everything they need within a five-mile radius and have gas efficient vehicles so gas prices really aren't as important to them. Go into the midwest states however and you'll find low population density and more agriculture, and gas prices will drop accordingly. Because when you have to drive ten miles to the closest store in a truck that gets four miles to the gallon, you are much more likely to get upset about gas prices than someone that daily drives maybe five miles in a vehicle that gets thirty miles to the gallon.

Re:$80 per 15 gallons of gas (1)

nschubach (922175) | about a year ago | (#44069803)

I filled up this morning. 91 Octane, $3.81/gallon

They are exaggerating. (1)

nten (709128) | about a year ago | (#44069829)

Its $3.34 here. Still this is the sane way to handle batteries, its a quick fillup and ensures recycling for EOL batteries. I still think the heat issues they have make them unreasonable in hot climates.

Re:$80 per 15 gallons of gas (1)

brunes69 (86786) | about a year ago | (#44069975)

This is referrig to California. Gas prices in California are as high or higher than Canada any time I have checked. Fuel quality in California is highly regulated and taxed which adds to the cost.

Re:$80 per 15 gallons of gas (1)

PPH (736903) | about a year ago | (#44070201)

No, we don't. Except for a few places like Hawaii, the price is significantly cheaper than that.

Publishing high retail prices is a marketing trick played by the petroleum industry to nudge the market price upwards. But it doesn't always take. Two weeks ago, when our local news (Seattle) said prices were creeping up (according to the industries publicity release) many of the independent stations dropped their prices 20 cents per gallon as a sort of FU to the cartel.

What I wonder is... (1)

taiwanjohn (103839) | about a year ago | (#44069471)

Will they eventually start using something like the Better Place [wikipedia.org] model for selling the car alone and keeping the battery as a company-owned asset? I'm not describing it quite right, but basically the idea was to sell "miles" to car owner the same way a phone company sells "minutes" to cell-phone owners. The point is, since the battery alone makes up a significant portion of the vehicle cost, this would be a way to reduce the sticker price and make the car attractive to a broader market.

Not that they really need to broaden the market. From what I've read, they have a long waiting list for the Model S.

Re:What I wonder is... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44069561)

you do knnow that Better Place just went bankrupt ?

Re:What I wonder is... (1)

taiwanjohn (103839) | about a year ago | (#44069635)

Yes, that's why I said "the idea was..." and linked to an article that says "Better Place was..." But their bankruptcy doesn't necessarily mean the idea was bad. There are lots of things that can bring down a company, such as an over-flashy CEO with poor management skills. Also, the Renault Fluence ZE was nowhere near as cool as the Model S. I really don't know what led to Better Place going under, but I don't reckon the battery swapping scheme was the main reason.

Interesting idea (4, Interesting)

hurwak-feg (2955853) | about a year ago | (#44069473)

I don't see this being as problematic as some of the other posters think. Considering most trips are short, and cars will typically be charged overnight, I think swapping batteries at a swap station will be rare for most people.

Net problem with this (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44069487)

I thought about batter swap schemes. Only way they would work is if you didn't use your own battery, but rather pay into the company that owned all the battery packs. That way you could swap the pack at any location, and at the same time you would not have to bring it back to the same place. The depreciation of the battery would be covered by your membership fees, as would cost of transporting excess batteries between stations to even out the load. Of course such a scheme would need huge upfront investment by the company, and the fees would also be spectacular I imagine.

I see no difference in savings (0)

DrStoooopid (1116519) | about a year ago | (#44069535)

I thought electric cars were supposed to allow us to save money? If it's a zero-sum gain, then what's the point?

It makes me want to go home and burn a tire after work in the name of all environmentalists everywhere.

Re:I see no difference in savings (2)

h4rr4r (612664) | about a year ago | (#44069597)

Your name makes good sense.

This is not cheaper since you are swapping the pack. Charging at home at night will be cheaper.

Also environmentalism is not generally concerned with saving money, they would be fine with a solution that was more expensive but better for the environment.

Re:I see no difference in savings (0)

DrStoooopid (1116519) | about a year ago | (#44069679)

You've obviously too stupid, or too young to get the joke that my name represents. Learn2google, jackass. It serves two purposes; one, to point out the duality of man in the context of intelligence, two, it's a Ren and Stimpy reference. Try to come up with something more original next time, frankly if I wanted any crap out of you, I'd squeeze your head.

I did read the article, and it's not really swapping the pack, you're just getting a temporary loaner which you have to then return. Break that down...if it takes the same amount of time to swap out a battery as it does to fill up, then they're charging an astronomical fee for the labor it takes to swap it out (which I'm fairly certain will be either completely automated, or they're paying some low rent to do it....California restrictions, licensing, and all other fees are ridiculous, but don't add up on the back-end...so you're getting a lot of "fluff" fees, but it makes the consumer feel good people they're doing their part "for the greater good"...

I didn't say environmentalism had anything to do with saving money, if anything, they're butthurt that the oil companies have money and they don't and they see electric vehicles as being the great equalizer and champion them under the guise of environmentalism. (what the don't understand is that most of the oil companies have a large share of the electricity generation game. ....maybe I'll have to burn two tires.

it wont matter (0)

Lumpy (12016) | about a year ago | (#44069789)

you will find that idiots that drive SUV's will park at them. Just like all the charging stations around town.

but..why? (1)

nimbius (983462) | about a year ago | (#44069957)

the range on a model S is ~205 miles, if you go for the top of the line its 265 miles. shouldnt this meet the needs of most drivers? i mean who drives more than 200 miles per day other than a CDL holder?

I think tesla is working like hell to dispel negative publicity surrounding the vehicle. Top Gear didnt do them any favours and the guys at the New York Times basically tried their damnedest to put it on a wrecker and make a story.
I also think the unspoken issue is the same as with a regular car: responsibility. If you want to drive on a quarter tank the entire week, floor it at every intersection and consistently violate the speed limit then so be it, but stop relying on a gas station on every corner to come to the rescue so you can keep treating your car like a toy.
disclosure: im a motorcyclist, so responsibility and range for me personally are something i dont just get to ignore without serious repercussions.

Why does every energy topic become a flamefest? (1)

H0p313ss (811249) | about a year ago | (#44070033)

Why are people so emotionally bound to internal combustion engines and coal power plants?

Re:Why does every energy topic become a flamefest? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44070163)

My gramma died in a coal power plant

sh1:t (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44070191)

of all legiti

not impressed (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44070203)

The 60kw tesla has a range of 200miles. If a battery swap is the same price as 15 gallons of gas, that's ~ 13mpg. My car guzzles gas like Kim Kardashian guzzles cum and it still has twice the highway fuel efficiency -- and that's when you'd want to use it.

Every Tesla announcement sounds good in the headline but is full of bullshit and half truths. I won't buy a Tesla for the same reason I won't eat peanuts from Kim Kardashian's shit.

Pretty expensive "deal" (1)

frnic (98517) | about a year ago | (#44070213)

Think about this for a second. First they advertisae they are making an Electric car that is MUCH less expensive to drive than an internal combustion engine.

Then they let you use a fully charged battery for MORE than a tank of gas to go the same distance.

Then they want their new battery back or else you pay a $10K penalty.

If you comute a lot, and most in CA do, then doing this daily for a year (5 days a week) you will have paid $20K for electricity alone, since you still have your worn out old battery at EOL.

No thanks...

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