CBS News By Jerry Edgerton, June 25, 2013,
Tesla to swap batteries in about 90 seconds
In the latest attempt to calm drivers who worry about how far they can drive their electric cars, Tesla Motors (TSLA) plans to build station that will swap run-down batteries for fresh ones. The company says it will take 90 seconds, or less time than it takes to fill the tank with gasoline.
The first swapping locations will be built along routes between Los Angeles and San Francisco and, in the East, from Boston to Washington. Each facility will be paired with a free, fast-charging station that can recharge a Tesla car in about 30 minutes. But those in a hurry can instead buy a fresh battery pack for $50 to $60 — about the price of 15 gallons of gas.
One downward pressure on sales of all-electric cars is the potential buyer’s concern about running out of power before reaching the destination. “We need to address the reasons people aren’t buying electric cars,” Tesla chairman Elon Musk says. “People need to feel they have the same level of freedom that they have with gasoline cars.” Tesla models equipped with 85-kilowatt-hour batteries can go about 265 miles on one charge, according to estimates by the Environmental Protection Agency. Those powered by 60-kilowatt-hour batteries can go about 208 miles.
That is already more range than some other electrics, like the Nissan Leaf, which on one charge can travel about 100 miles. One charge will get you only about 40 miles on the Chevy Volt, but it has a backup gasoline engine to take over when the batteries lose power.
The Tesla battery swap applies to the current Model S sedan but not the company’s original car, the sleek and speedy Roadster. The Model S has been widely praised. Consumer Reports, whose test drivers are notoriously tough graders, said the Model S achieved one of the highest score of any model ever tested.
Drivers who make the battery swap will have to return to that station to retrieve their original battery, now recharged. Alternatively, they can pay to have the battery shipped back to the Tesla service facility nearest to them.
Analysts say that each swap station will cost Tesla about $500,000 to install but that in the long run, the company will likely make a profit on the fees charged for swapping. Motorists who would rather avoid the fee can instead wait the 30 minutes necessary to recharge their own batteries.
As usual, Tesla is following its own path. However, there is a precedent for battery swapping. Better Place Inc. had advocated a similar switch, but the idea never caught on. That company filed for bankruptcy earlier this year.
see original with video at http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-505145_162-57590751/tesla-to-swap-batteries-in-about-90-seconds/
Tesla Adds Model S Battery Swap for Faster Refuels
By Alan Ohnsman – Jun 21, 2013, bloomberg.com/news
Tesla Motors Inc. (TSLA), the electric-car maker run by Elon Musk, showed a battery swapping system for its Model S sedan that’s faster than charging and ensures the car earns maximum zero-emission vehicle credits in California.
Musk and Franz Von Holzhausen, Tesla’s chief designer, demonstrated the system late yesterday at the company’s Hawthorne, California, design studio. The device removes and replaces the car’s 1,000-pound (454 kilogram) lithium-ion battery with a fully charged one in just 90 seconds, said Musk, who used it to swap packs in two cars faster than an Audi sedan could be refilled with gasoline.
“What we really want to show here is that you can be more convenient with an electric car,” said Musk, 41, Tesla’s chief executive officer. “Hopefully, this is what convinces people finally that electric cars are the future.”
Musk, who’s also building a U.S. network of rapid-charge stations to let Tesla owners drive cross-country, is creating exclusive infrastructure and features to boost the brand’s practicality and cachet. The pack-swapping for the $69,900 sedans also bolsters Tesla’s revenue from regulatory credit sales.
California and nine states that follow its Zero-Emission Vehicle program require carmakers to generate compliance credits by selling models that emit little or no tailpipe exhaust, including plug-in hybrids, battery-only cars and hydrogen vehicles. Large manufacturers need the most credits to comply and Palo Alto, California-based Tesla, with annual volume too small to be covered by the rules, is a surplus credit generator.
Last month Tesla, which has nearly tripled in market value this year, said its first-ever quarterly profit was aided by $67.9 million in ZEV credit sales to companies it didn’t name. Credit sales will drop in the second quarter and may disappear in 2013’s second half, Musk said in an earnings call last month.
Tesla has said it plans to sell 21,000 Model S cars this year, with deliveries to Europe and Asia beginning in the second half. Demand currently exceeds Tesla’s production capacity, Musk said yesterday, without elaborating.
Each Model S generates between five and seven credits for Tesla, determined by battery size, under a requirement that they can be refueled in 10 minutes or less, according to California’s Air Resources Board.
Battery swapping capability currently satisfies that “fast refueling” requirement, David Clegern, a spokesman for the agency, said by e-mail. CARB is considering a rule change that would remove pack swapping as a fast-refueling option, he said.
Hydrogen vehicles such as Honda Motor Co. (7267)’s FCX Clarity fuel-cell sedan are the only other cars that currently earn as many as seven credits per vehicle, according to California rules.
“Are we simply doing this for the CARB credits? That is not the case,” Musk said. The company’s revenue from ZEV credit sales will decline over time relative to its vehicle sales as deliveries to global markets grow, he said. He estimated that U.S. sales will account for only about a third of Tesla’s volume, of which only half will generate credits.
Tesla will install the first battery swap stations at Supercharger stations in California from late this year, Musk said. They cost about $500,000, and will initially go into the company’s busiest Supercharger stations, he said.
Each unit will store about 50 battery packs that customers will borrow for the price of an equivalent tank of gasoline, Musk said. Users’ credit cards will be automatically billed, and the loaner packs can be returned to the charging station and replaced with the customer’s own pack, fully charged, he said.
The company is open to eventually licensing its battery swap system to other companies interested in offering a similar service, Musk said.
Tesla’s strategy for battery-swapping capability will have to be better than that of Better Place Inc., a provider of electric car services that filed for bankruptcy this year.
Better Place, also based in Palo Alto, offered charging services and battery swapping for an electric Renault SA model at stations in Israel and Denmark. Better Place filed a motion for liquidation with an Israeli court last month after failing to attract new investments, according to a company statement.
Tesla fell 1.1 percent to $99.55 at the close in New York. The shares have risen 194 percent this year, compared with a 12 percent advance in the Russell 1000 Index.
Musk’s fortune has soared 145 percent this year to $5.8 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.
A Fully-Charged Electric Car In 93 Seconds?
by Chris Clarke, on June 24, 2013, Rewire.
If this works out in the real world, say goodbye to electric car “range anxiety.” At an event in Southern California last week, Tesla Motors founder Elon Musk demonstrated a way his company’s Model S electric cars can be “recharged” in less than half the time it takes to fill a 25-gallon gas tank.
We say “recharged” in scare quotes because the process doesn’t involve pumping power into the car’s battery so much as swapping out the drained battery for a fully charged one. Battery swapping isn’t a new idea: it was hyped big time a couple years ago by the Israeli visionary Shai Agassi and his firm Better Place. The idea got a lot of attention before Agassi left his CEO spot: after financial struggles, the firm sadly, is now in a better place.
Still, the idea’s compelling: rather than sit around waiting to charge your car’s battery, why not have the battery sit around waiting for you to need it? Not only is that more practical for drivers, but it also potentially allows much of that battery charging to be done during non-commute, non-peak consumption hours.
The problem is infrastructure. It doesn’t take much to run a power cord to a charging station. It takes a lot more effort, and investment, to set up places where car batteries can be removed, charged up, and installed by robot mechanics. That daunting threshold caused Nissan to back away from the technology not long ago.
Which makes it a job for Tesla, the electric car company founded by PayPal tycoon and SpaceX founder Elon Musk. Tesla is already working to set up a network of stations with Superchargers across North America. Those Superchargers, compatible with most of the company’s Model S cars, will deliver a full charge in less than an hour.
If you’re already planning to set up a network of proprietary charging stations, all it takes to add battery swapping technology at some of those stations is a pile of money. Which Tesla has; Musk announced Thursday that the company would be adding battery-swap facilities to a number of the company’s stations in California and on the East Coast.
As he showed Thursday night, Musk also has the same laid-back showman chops as late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs. As part of the announcement that the company will be adding battery swap facilities at its stations in California and the East Coast sometime this year, Musk presided over a race between a Model S battery swap and a standard car, offsite and on live video, filling a 25-gallon tank.
Musk swapped two batteries out in the time it took his off-site employee to fill his gas tank: about 93 seconds per car.
There are downsides, of course. Tesla expects to charge $60-$80 for a battery swap, which puts the cost per mile higher than some drivers might prefer. Of course, those drivers are driving a car that costs between $60K and $80K, and Musk reminded his audience that using the Superchargers will remain free.
Perhaps more of a problem, as CNET’s Wayne Cunningham points out, is that this doesn’t do much to promote uniform standards for electric cars:
Watching Tesla’s video, it gave me chills — the bad kind — when Musk said Model S owners could pull into a “Tesla station.” Will the landscape be populated with Nissan Leaf stations, Honda Fit EV stations, Ford Focus Electric stations? … Tesla’s “walled garden” approach is common in the technology industry. Apple, where Tesla seems to have derived some of its inspiration, is notorious for coming up with proprietary technologies. Likewise, mobile phone makers tend to embrace captive markets, good for their bottom lines, but limiting consumer choice.
Still, even if Tesla’s battery swap initiative doesn’t offer a panacea, it’s pretty darn cool. If anyone wants to buy ReWire a Model S for that $80K price of entry, we’ll happily drive around that walled garden for a while.
see original with video at www.kcet.org/news/rewire/transportation/a-fully-charged-electric-car-in-93-seconds.html