Elon Must and Tesla Motors continue to push the boundaries of electric vehicles that are a zero compromise replacements for combustion power. Their first car, the Roadster, proved that electric cars could be cool and performance oriented. Unfortunately it was still an adaptation of an existing car. The Model S was a clean sheet design with enough range for people to use everyday without anxiety. It also didn’t hurt that it could seat a whole family, had two trunks and is faster than a BMW M5. The only real complaint left was the ability to take the Model S on an extended road trip. Tesla has begun to address that concern with their Supercharger Network of quick charge stations along routes between major cities here in the US. Any Model S owner can pull into a Supercharger station and have their battery recharged for free. It takes an hour to charge 300 miles worth of range. Even though this is unprecedented in the electric car world, it’s still not enough for most skeptics. Now Supercharger stations offer a faster option. Model S owners can now swap out their entire battery packs and keep driving in a matter of about 90 seconds. The entire process is done by the same machinery that installs the battery packs into the cars at the Tesla factory. From what I understand, the station installs a rental battery into the car and then you swap for your original pack on the way back.
Tesla recently demonstrated the speed of the battery swapping process at their design studio in Hawthorne, CA. They found the fastest gas pump in Los Angeles to fill an Audi and raced the process with the battery swap. Two Model S pack were swapped easily before the gas pump had filled up the Audi.
Fast Pack Swap Event from Tesla Motors on Vimeo.