Tesla toasts petrol stations with battery pack swaps

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Elon Musk took to the stage yesterday, in California, to show off his company’s latest innovation: battery pack swaps for its Model S electric vehicle (EV).

Those who have reservations about EVs taking off were silenced when Tesla’s automated system swapped out a battery pack in just over 90 seconds, while a regular petrol-engined car was being filled up at the same time. After the first Model S had its battery swapped Musk noted that they still had some time, so a second car was brought on stage and had its pack swapped, too – all before the petrol pit-stop was completed.

The battery pack swaps will be offered at all of Tesla’s SuperCharger stations. The Model S, Musk said, was designed from the beginning to accommodate pack swaps, but the car is also compatible with its SuperCharger technology: 480-volt fast-chargers that can add 240km worth of power in just 30 minutes. Charging at a SuperCharger is free, but a battery pack swap will cost between $60 and $80, depending on the pack that’s already in a Model S. It’s being offered as an extended-range option for those who don’t want to wait for full charge. Drivers will have to swap back their original pack on the return journey, or they will be billed for the difference.

Tesla Motors

Christo van Gemert

Christo van Gemert

Eleven years ago Christo started writing about technology for one of South Africa's (then) leading computer magazines. His first review? A Samsung LCD monitor. Hey, it was hot news, back then. Nowadays he gets more excited about photography, cars, game consoles, and faster internet connections. He's sort of an Apple fan, but will take any opportunity to remind you about his Windows-powered home theatre PC and desire to own a vanilla Android tablet.   Currently uses: Apple 13-inch Macbook Pro with Retina Display, Apple iPhone 5, Microsoft Laser Mouse 6000, Audiofly AF78 Earphones, Xbox 360, Nikon D50.