After last night's initial public demo of the Tesla Model S battery swap, we attended a small press conference with Tesla CEO Elon Musk where he answered questions about the program. You can get the early details about the swap stations in our first post and then dive into our back and forth with Tesla, below. You can also scroll down to see a video of the battery swap process in action, if you're more of a visual learner.
Question: Will owners need to make a reservation for a battery swap?
Answer: No reservations are needed. Each of the swap sites will be stocked with enough batteries to cover demand.
Question: How many battery packs will be available at each location?
Answer: That depends purely on how frequently the station is used. For the most part, expect a swap station to stock about 50 batteries. However, busy corridors will have more and less popular stations will have fewer. The quantity will basically align proportionally with the number of Supercharger units at the station.
Question: Are the batteries at the stations all brand-new?
Answer: They will be brand-new at first. But as owners use them, they will obviously have recharging cycles on them. Each will be monitored for optimal performance, so the customer won't have to worry about that.
Question: How much does it cost to upgrade a charging station to allow battery swapping?
Answer: It costs about $500,000 per site, and that includes digging the pit, construction and hardware. The electrical capacity is already on site (supplying energy to the Superchargers).
Question: When will the first battery swap station be online?
Answer: Expect the first station in California, in the fourth quarter of this year.
Question: How will owners pay for the battery swap?
Answer: Credit card information will be on file, so the transaction will be quick and seamless.
Question: Will the batteries in the upcoming Model X also have swapping capabilities?
Answer: Yes, the Model S and Model X will have the ability to universally swap batteries.
Question: The batteries are not only connected electrically with the vehicle, but they are liquid cooled. How will that affect the automatic battery swap?
Answer: That was another technological hurdle that needed to be overcome during the engineering process. In the end, a system was designed that allowed the fluid couplings to be disconnected/reconnected without any fluid loss whatsoever.
Question: Will we see third-party battery swap stations in the future?
Answer: Tesla plans on selling the technology to other companies in the future, so there is a good chance of seeing independent stations in various parts of the country.
Question: How was the battery-swap technology developed?
Answer: The process was challenging, as each of the nuts on the battery require precision torque as they are installed, but Tesla was able to take some technology off the assembly floor and mix it with new processes to make the operation smooth and seamless to the customer.