The Science of Sustainability

Tesla Unveils 90-Second Battery Swap Technology

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Photo courtesy of Tesla Motors

Photo courtesy of Tesla Motors

Palo Alto based electric car maker, Tesla, has announced a service that will swap out a battery in less than two minutes. The auto maker is trying to address one of the obstacles to electric car adoption: fears of limited driving range. Tesla cars can travel a maximum of 300 miles before needing a recharge.

At a packed event in Los Angeles Thursday, CEO Elon Musk announced that Tesla will roll out battery swapping stations later this year along the drive between Los Angeles and San Francisco and the Washington to Boston corridor.

Electric cars have been a hard sell due to their high price, limited driving range and lack of public charging infrastructure. Musk says a battery pack swap will take about as long and cost about as much as filling up a 15-gallon gas tank.

Drivers who swap their battery packs will reclaim their original battery on their return trip, kind of like renting a pair of skis. The new battery stations will be built next to the company's fast chargers which will charge up a Tesla battery in less than thirty minutes.

Tesla's announcement comes just a month after Silicon Valley based, A Better Place, an electric car battery swapping business, declared bankruptcy.

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Category: Energy, Engineering, News

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Lindsey Hoshaw

About the Author ()

Lindsey Hoshaw is a coordinating producer for QUEST Northern California where she creates digital videos, online interactives and web articles. Before joining KQED, Lindsey was a science correspondent for The New York Times, The Boston Globe, Forbes and Scientific American. She was recently awarded the Frank Allen Field Reporting Award and is especially interested in ocean science, the future of sustainable seafood and the great pacific garbage patch. She can be found on Twitter as @thegarbagegirl
  • KjelRay

    If the driving range is 300 miles and a battery swap costs as much as 15 gallons of gas, how is that not the equivalent (cost wise) of getting only 20 miles/gal?

  • boonetpickens

    One obstacle at a time…. They have now begun to address the charging time issue, and now as more and more people adopt the technology we will see a few things. For one, more stations will pop up across the U.S., meaning the supply will explode, lowering the cost to consumers. The advent of multiple brands competing against each other as well as exponentially rising demand from consumers are both major factors contributing to lowering the cost of the new fast-charging technology. We will also stop contributing to large oil's gasoline profits and take away some of their incentive to fight electric technology.