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Transportation Power

Tesla To Build Its Own Battery-Swap Stations 377

Posted by Soulskill
from the can-somebody-please-make-this-for-phone-batteries dept.
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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Tesla To Build Its Own Battery-Swap Stations

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  • 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?

    • by Overzeetop (214511) on Friday June 21, 2013 @08:02AM (#44069361) Journal

      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.

      • by cnaumann (466328) on Friday June 21, 2013 @08:24AM (#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.

        • by oobayly (1056050) on Friday June 21, 2013 @08:57AM (#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.

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

      • by wvmarle (1070040) on Friday June 21, 2013 @08:49AM (#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.

        • by Lumpy (12016) on Friday June 21, 2013 @10:04AM (#44070353) Homepage

          "The final step is going to be to have all car manufacturers agree on a certain standard, "

          Hell will freeze first. we cant eve get the Gas cap on the same side of the car.

          • by Loki_1929 (550940)

            Unless and until someone comes up with better technology for charging and batteries than Tesla (and nobody's within 10 years of them), Tesla will be the gold standard by which any others are measured. Smart car manufacturers will license Tesla's tech as quickly as possible with a long term agreement and save the R&D. Lock it in at the cheap price point now and then sit back while everyone else struggles to catch up. Musk is very big into sharing the amazing technology he comes up with because he isn't l

      • so you're saying you didn't even bother to read the summary? people must reclaim their original batteries
    • by crakbone (860662)
      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.
      • by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 21, 2013 @08:09AM (#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

        • by h4rr4r (612664)

          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.

          • by Alioth (221270) <no@spam> on Friday June 21, 2013 @08:56AM (#44069791) Journal

            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).

            • by h4rr4r (612664) on Friday June 21, 2013 @08:58AM (#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.

              • by wvmarle (1070040)

                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.

                • Except most people will charge at night when it is *not* during peak load.

                • by tgd (2822)

                  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.

                  How do you think Tesla is doing it with their charging stations? Exactly that way.

                  Its not rocket science... but even if it was, I hear they've got someone there who has some experience in rocket science, too.

              • by Alioth (221270)

                But that's not going to happen with electricity in any reasonable definition for soon. Notice I did NOT at any point say "it's impossible", just that it won't happen "soon" (during the next decade or even two). The technology to store such vast amounts of electrical energy and then be able to discharge at the furious rate required to charge 50kWh in 8 minutes (and not only do that, but keep doing it *all day long*) don't even exist in the labs today. When they exist in the labs, based on current track recor

            • by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 21, 2013 @09:11AM (#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?

              • 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.

              • by Agent0013 (828350)

                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.

                • by bws111 (1216812)

                  However, once electric cars become very popular any parking space could potentially be a 'filling station'. Charge your car while shopping or at work. This is a huge opportunity for people to make money, and it will be used.

                • OTOH, as EV's gain market share, charging options will expand as well. If your company adds a few stations in the parking lot, you can charge up during the day, or top off the battery at the shopping mall or the movie theater. For that matter, I believe the Model S is available with PV cells integrated into the roof. If you have a short commute, that alone might be sufficient on a sunny day.

                  Then there's the other elephant in the room... If you can afford a $50k~$90k luxury car, you can probably afford to se

            • 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.
            • by msauve (701917)
              You go through all these calculations to make a point about "for rapid charging electric cars to be practical in anything other than really small numbers," while ignoring the obvious - electric cars use essentially the same amount of energy per mile whether they're quick charged or slow charged.

              If anything, you're arguing against electric cars in general, not rapid charging.
            • by eudaemon (320983)
              Sure, if there's as many people driving Teslas as driving every other car model combined. You've just doubled the amount of traffic on the road and sold as many Teslas as every other kind of car as well in your effort to create a strawman. You're also completely ignoring the fact that Tesla have the opportunity to charge these packs ahead of time, flattening out your tenuously arrived upon peak demand. What a wonderful town you must live in where everyone can afford not only a second car, but a Tesla at
          • by serviscope_minor (664417) on Friday June 21, 2013 @09:00AM (#44069821) Journal

            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.

            • by h4rr4r (612664)

              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.

            • by CohibaVancouver (864662) on Friday June 21, 2013 @10:05AM (#44070361)

              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.

              I think, by their very nature, tech-minded people are obsessed with edge use-cases. This, coupled with a desperate need to be able to say "I told you so!" results in a visceral hatred for electric cars in some cases even though, for 80% of the use cases, they're fine.

            • by tnk1 (899206) on Friday June 21, 2013 @10:06AM (#44070367)

              As a member of one of those understrength legions you are talking about, you're doing the point a disservice. Some of us may be luddites, but I'm certainly not. I just don't want to trade a car that does everything I need for one that does not (and pay more for the privilege).

              For instance, I have been looking for a battery swap program, which would make trips a lot more feasible without long stops intervening to refuel. This program is getting closer to what I want to see. Obviously, there are some downsides to be worked out, but it is a step in the right direction.

              And no, my routes are usually the same, and are predominantly Interstate driving, so this could work. I do shift routes occasionally, based on traffic at my destination, but it is usually a choice of one or two routes, not "random". That said, I'll be driving to another state soon to go to an event that I attend maybe once a year. I'd like my car to be able to get me there with minimal trouble, but this might be in the range of these vehicles.

              I get the feeling that you have some idea that oil companies are paying shills to have these objections, or you believe that we are out to get electric cars. Nothing is farther from the truth. When I write about what I would like to see, I am asking for features or outlining requirements for my own purchase. I am not suggesting that it will not work as a mass production vehicle. There are plenty of people who would use these for commuter vehicles, and in that regard, they are pretty much there.

              What current EVs are *not* is a replacement for an automobile for more general transportation purposes. They are not yet a replacement for a standard gasoline/diesel vehicle, and I would actually like for these electric car companies to work to that end (as I am sure they are). If I am complaining, it is mostly so that people are aware that what they are giving is not good enough for me, but I certainly don't want to discourage others from buying it if it is perfectly acceptable for them. After all, early adopters will provide the capital to get features that I want, so please, keep buy them if you like them.

              • by bws111 (1216812)

                In the 60's everybody drove huge V8 powered behemoths. Then gas started getting expensive, and Japanese manufacturers started introducing small 4 cylinder cars. Many, many people said 'those small cars will never be suitable for me - I can't put the whole family and a ton a camping gear in there, they have too little power for my kind of driving, it will be too uncomfortable to drive for long distances, etc'.

                What does the road look like today? It seems that an awful lot of people who thought they could

                • by dj245 (732906) on Friday June 21, 2013 @11:10AM (#44070887) Homepage

                  In the 60's everybody drove huge V8 powered behemoths. Then gas started getting expensive, and Japanese manufacturers started introducing small 4 cylinder cars. Many, many people said 'those small cars will never be suitable for me - I can't put the whole family and a ton a camping gear in there, they have too little power for my kind of driving, it will be too uncomfortable to drive for long distances, etc'.

                  What does the road look like today? It seems that an awful lot of people who thought they could not possibly use a small 4 cylinder car are, in fact, using small 4 cylinder cars. So what changed? First, the small cars themselves got better. Second, people realized that their actual driving requirements were not what they had thought they were. They realized they did not need a large car all year just so they could go on vacation once a year - you can rent a large car for that. They realized that you do not need a 400HP car just so they can tow their boat to the lake in spring and back again in fall - you can rent a truck or pay someone to haul the boat for you. In short, they realized that the benefits of a small car outweighed the supposed restrictions it put on their driving habits. And, of course, if you do actually need a large vehicle or truck, you can still buy one.

                  Electric cars are now pretty much in the same position as small cars were in the 70s. They will improve, and people will make their own decisions on which car is right for them.

                  I have to disagree here. In my grandmother's era, most V8 engines struggled to break 100hp. Plastics weren't invented/widely used in cars, so they were very heavy. Putting a I4 of the era into an all-steel car of that era is laughable. If anything, expectations for power/weight have increased.

                  Finding 0-60 times for old unmodified cars isn't all that easy, but the 1962 Lincoln Continental 7.0L V8 had a 0-60 time of 12.4 seconds with 300HP. Perhaps comparing to a new Lincoln would be appropriate, but a new Honda Civic with a not-terribly-exciting engine can do 0-60 in 9 seconds with about 140hp. You have to look pretty hard to find a car these days that takes more than 10 seconds to reach 60MPH. Stopping distances are much shorter, and new cars corner far better than the old ones. Driving requirements have actually gotten much more demanding, but weight and power advances have kept up.

                  • by rsborg (111459)

                    ...

                    Electric cars are now pretty much in the same position as small cars were in the 70s. They will improve, and people will make their own decisions on which car is right for them.

                    I have to disagree here. In my grandmother's era, most V8 engines struggled to break 100hp. Plastics weren't invented/widely used in cars, so they were very heavy. Putting a I4 of the era into an all-steel car of that era is laughable. If anything, expectations for power/weight have increased.

                    Finding 0-60 times for old unmodified cars isn't all that easy, but the 1962 Lincoln Continental 7.0L V8 had a 0-60 time of 12.4 seconds with 300HP. Perhaps comparing to a new Lincoln would be appropriate, but a new Honda Civic with a not-terribly-exciting engine can do 0-60 in 9 seconds with about 140hp. You have to look pretty hard to find a car these days that takes more than 10 seconds to reach 60MPH. Stopping distances are much shorter, and new cars corner far better than the old ones. Driving requirements have actually gotten much more demanding, but weight and power advances have kept up.

                    While everything you said may be entirely accurate (and seems so), it does nothing to refute bws111's claims. In fact, if you take your facts and align them to bws111's analogy, it makes perfect sense. Right now, battery technology and charging methodology are still lacking for mass-market EV adoption. Personally, I'm thrilled that Tesla is releasing cars with reasonable range for commuters (I drive 75mi each day I commute - 160 is probably the minimum I would want in an EV), but I really wish there were

              • by mattack2 (1165421)

                What current EVs are *not* is a replacement for an automobile for more general transportation purposes.

                But I suspect (since I have no citation) that "commuter vehicles" (and shopping at the grocery store/Costco) IS what the vast majority of the U.S. population does for "general transportation purposes". A commuter vehicle *IS* general transportation for most people. That's why even the EV1 was sufficient for 80% of people (if I remember the movie quote correctly).

            • by msauve (701917)
              "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"

              I drive a VW bus, you insensitive clod. 150 miles is 7 hours.
            • 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.

              Electric vehicles are of course inevitable, as gasoline is only going to get ore expensive as supplies become ever more limited. And if one effect is that people aren't able to drive 7 hours at a stretch, but need to do the occasional forced 30 minute break, then that's a good thing!

        • 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).

          Very few conventional SUVs can be taken off road, unless by offroad you mean the maintained gravel road out to your favorite trail head. SUV hasn't mean off road for many years now, SUV generally means minivan-without-the-stigma.

    • by Bradmont (513167)
      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.
    • by Dan East (318230) on Friday June 21, 2013 @08:11AM (#44069423) Homepage Journal

      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.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      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...
      T

  • Gas (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Dan East (318230) on Friday June 21, 2013 @08:04AM (#44069369) Homepage Journal

    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.

    • by LWATCDR (28044)

      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 (Score:5, Insightful)

        by h4rr4r (612664) on Friday June 21, 2013 @08:29AM (#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?

        • 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.

          • by h4rr4r (612664)

            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.

          • by Lumpy (12016)

            "If you're billing hourly then commuting in an SL600 at 120mph" dare you to constantly drive like there in the states.
            Reality your SL600 is going 45mph as you are stuck in traffic on I80 because some moron could not merge.

      • by engun (1234934)
        Well, that didn't take long!
    • 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

      • 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).

      • 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!

    • by tlambert (566799)

      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.

      • by h4rr4r (612664)

        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 (Score:5, Informative)

          by dywolf (2673597) on Friday June 21, 2013 @08:44AM (#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]

        • by Lumpy (12016)

          "Pretty much all your luxury cars should be running that, and many regular cars."

          Ahh yet another uneducated car owner.... Unless the car is turbocharged, supercharged, or high compression you are a moron to run anything but the low grade "regular unleaded" gas

          Higher octane burns SLOWER to reduce knock. this is used for Forced induction engines and high compression engines. Both of which are RARE to find in cars. less than 40% of all cars sold meet this need.

          Sadly many uneducated drivers fall for the

      • by swillden (191260)

        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 loo

    • by zazzel (98233)

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

  • Idiotic (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    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.

    • by h4rr4r (612664)

      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.

      • by wvmarle (1070040)

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

  • by Shoten (260439) on Friday June 21, 2013 @08:08AM (#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.

    • ...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.

      • by nschubach (922175)

        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.

  • 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 o

    • by nschubach (922175)

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

    • 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.

    • by brunes69 (86786)

      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.

    • by PPH (736903)

      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.

    • I just looked it up, we pay US $10.11 per gallon here in the Netherlands.
  • 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

  • Interesting idea (Score:4, Interesting)

    by hurwak-feg (2955853) on Friday June 21, 2013 @08:20AM (#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.
  • 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: resp
  • Why are people so emotionally bound to internal combustion engines and coal power plants?

  • Better Place, a chain of battry swap stations in Denmark, just went bankrupt.
    http://green.autoblog.com/category/better-place/ [autoblog.com]
  • 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 EO

  • "$60 and $80, about the same as filling up a 15-gallon gas tank"

    Ummm no. I usually fill 13.5 and it costs about $42 and my state has the 2nd highest gas prices in the US.
  • by jschen (1249578) on Friday June 21, 2013 @10:10AM (#44070405)

    The way I see it, the best use of the proposed battery swapping isn't for a quicker charge. It's to allow one to borrow a battery to use/abuse during a road trip. If going on a long road trip, rather than subject one's own battery to the added stress of multiple fast-charge cycles, one has the option to borrow a battery for $60-80 and subject that one to those conditions. If we assume that a new battery is ca. $10k, then the rental is under 1% of battery cost. If a long road trip with multiple fast-charge cycles causes sufficient battery wear (or even just lots of anxiety about the potential effects), then for $60-80 one can get a loaner battery.

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