Sure, your first response to the idea of Tesla introducing a battery swap system might be, "what, this again?" After all, we heard in 2009 that the Model S was built with battery swaps in mind and, in 2011, Tesla CEO Elon Musk explained the Model S battery swap idea this way: "When people take an occasional two-way long distance trip, they'll get a replacement pack and then pick up their original one on the way back. The issue of giving up your one-year old pack for a three-year old one goes away." The Supercharger network, too, was at one point supposed to feature battery swapping robots that could get the job done in as little as one minute.
But the Supercharger stations – as they exist today – don't have that feature. And Musk has recently been much more excited about the benefits of quick charging than battery swaps. Which is why we forgive any ongoing skepticism that Tesla will introduce batter swaps to the Model S.
Except that the other day, Musk Tweeted, "There is a way for the Tesla Model S to be recharged throughout the country faster than you could fill a gas tank." And our friends at Green Car Reports noticed this line from Tesla's latest quarterly report (PDF):
Other factors that may influence the adoption of alternative fuel vehicles, and specifically electric vehicles, include ... our capability to rapidly swap out the Model S battery pack and the development of specialized public facilities to perform such swapping, which do not currently exist but which we plan to introduce in the near future.
So, yeah. Now what? We asked Tesla directly, and Sarah Meron, VP of communications for Tesla Motors, told AutoblogGreen, "We don't have any comment on battery swapping right now or timing of further announcements. But we'll let you know when we do!"
Tesla has already announced replacement costs for its battery packs ($10,000 for the 60-kWh and $12,000 for the 85-kWh pack), but that's if you need an entirely new pack and you purchased the warranty. This is something else entirely. Is Tesla going to make actual battery swaps available soon?