Skip to comments.Tesla to demo quick-swap electric car batteries
Posted on 06/18/2013 1:54:45 PM PDT by Red Badger
Tesla Motors said Thursday it would demonstrate a way to quickly recharge electric cars by swapping drained batteries for fresh power cells.
Tesla chief executive and founder Elon Musk used popular the messaging service Twitter to put out word that a "live pack swap demo" was taking place at the company's design studio in the Southern California city of Hawthorne.
Video from the event was to be posted on the Tesla website about 0430 GMT on Friday, according to Musk.
Making it fast and easy to restore full power to electric car batteries is seen as a big step in winning over drivers hooked on the convenience of refueling vehicles that run on petrol.
Tesla last month said that Musk would invest $100 million in the surging electric car maker, and that it would repay a loan from the US Department of Energy ahead of schedule.
The California maker of high-priced electric vehicles said it would launch a new stock offering of some 2.7 million shares along with $450 million in convertible notes to raise fresh capital.
Musk was to purchase $45 million in common shares and another $55 million in a private share placement, the company said.
Tesla said it expected to raise some $830 million and use the proceeds to prepay a loan from the US Department of Energy.
The moves came amid a stunning surge in the value of Tesla, which has just a tiny share of the US car market but turned a profit for the first time in the past quarter.
Tesla shares were up slightly Tuesday to Wednesday to $102.83.
The shares have more than doubled this year after struggling through 2012 on production delays and questions about whether it could turn a profit.
On May 8, the California-based firm announced $11 million in net income for the first quarter as revenues rose 83 percent from the prior quarter to $562 million.
Tesla cited strong global demand for its $62,000-$87,000 Model S, saying it is receiving orders at a rate of more than 20,000 per year worldwide, adding that it seen "significant upside potential in Europe and Asia."
Although Tesla has been on the upswing, the road has grown bumpier for the electric car market.
Tesla Roadster Sport 2.5
Manufacturer Tesla Motors
Also called Code name: DarkStar
Assembly Hethel, Norfolk, England
Menlo Park, California, USA
Body style 2-door Roadster
Layout Rear mid-engine, rear-wheel drive
Electric motor 1.5, 2.0 : 248 hp (185 kW), 200·lb·ft/s (270 N·m), 3-phase 4-pole; 2.5
Non-Sport : 288 hp (215 kW), 273·lb·ft (370 N·m), 3-phase 4-pole; 2.5
Sport : 288 hp (215 kW), 295·lb·ft (400 N·m), 3-phase 4-pole
AC induction motor
Transmission Single speed BorgWarner fixed gear (8.27:1 ratio)
Battery 53 kWh (Lithium-ion battery)
Electric range 244 mi (393 km) using EPA combined cycle
Wheelbase 2,352 mm (92.6 in)
Length 3,946 mm (155.4 in)
Width 1,873 mm (73.7 in)
Height 1,127 mm (44.4 in)
Curb weight 2,723 lb (1,235 kg)
Related Lotus Elise
Designer Tesla Motors
The reason they are “quick swap” is just in case the battery is on fire when you are taking it out of your car.
I have a diesel that I love.I’ll never again drive anything else,even if it’s given to me.That most assuredly includes electrics.
Will this be like the copiers where the ink cartridges are the biggest expense??
Can "old" batteries be re-celled?
It had seemed to me that if they could come up with a slide in battery back that was interchangeable, you wouldn’t own your own pack. You would merely rent a pack until you get to the next station.
That would eliminate the range problem. Of course that’s if you coild go at least 250 miles on a pack.
Nice car. Should be able to power it with those white tripod things in the background. Look forward to the model with one mounted on the hood. Should REALLY get great mileage once the speed is up on the highway!
They haven't really even given them a chance - why destroy them?
Given that some of the Tesla batteries weight 800 pounds, I suppose the meaning of “quick swap” would depend upon the definition of “quick”, as Willy Clinton might say. Not to mention you’d need a “spare” 800 pound battery laying around to swap, plus the chain hoist to do the swap with. Wonder if your average soccer mom can operate a chain hoist good enough to move around a pair of 800 pound batteries without dropping or bumping anything important and without a lot of unnecessary high amperage arcing.
You may not own the battery pack, but one way or another you will be paying for it, and it ain’t cheap.
The true value and actual cost of operating these cars won’t be known until after the battery’s average life span under real world conditions is established.
It would over 5 hours to charge the battery with one of the windmills in the background assuming 2MW, 25% capacity factor and no losses. Losses turn it into an all day affair (or more windmills per car). Is that an efficient use of the birdchopper and land area.
I understand that. You’d probably still pay a mid-range price for a swap. $40-$50 bucks.
I’m thinking you’d have to have an awful lot of batter packs on site to handle the business though.
” you wouldnt own your own pack. You would merely rent a pack until you get to the next station.”
It would just about have to be that way. If not when your batteries were near the end of their useful life you would just go to a station and swap it out. If you just purchased new batteries you would not want to have it replaced with an old one.
Yes that’s true.
I read recently about an Israeli company that tried the same concept: a network of battery-swap stations. I believe they're going bankrupt. And that's in a tiny country.
I'm not predicting Tesla's future by any means, but this has been tried and I think it shows just how unready this technology is for mass use.
They'll just have to put up a battery swap station every 28 miles in the desert. Immigration Reform is all about ensuring an adequate supply of Mexicans to man them all.
are the quick swap batteries carried with you are do they just show up at your destination charged and waiting for you?
Plus the fire factor and the danger factor in the event of an accident. I remember that being a big deal.
I’ve seen a demonstration of quick swap batteries...and I immediately saw some major flaws. For starters, the demonstration took the car into a two sided ‘shelter’, so the equipment could be inside. This shelter setup would nearly double the footprint of a typical gas station...not an easy feat, in urban areas where land is valuable.
But beyond that - think about how many batteries this would be, in an imaginary world where electric car use was scaled up to a point to make a gas station viable. Remember, the station makes little on fuel, so its really a matter of how many people can get cycled through to buy chips. So, a full scale station may need to average 480 customers in a day (8 pumps x 2 sides x 3 customers per side an hour x 10 hours peak usage)....and I think that’s conservative. So, to account for the ‘churn’ of batteries, and the fact that it takes several hours to charge, you will likely need an inventory of 2.5 per customer...or 1,200 batteries. Now battery replacement costs are estimated between $8k-$12k...using $10k, that’s a $12 million investment in batteries, just to get off the ground. And unlike fuel costs, you don’t get this back right away. People are going to expect a ‘charge’ for less than $10, in line with the cost of electricity. So, the battery (which can only be used once in two days, costs out in 5.5 years...right about time to buy a new one.
But where do you store 1,200 batteries? The footprint just got bigger. And how do you charge 480 batteries every night...50kwh x 480 batteries = 24,000 kwh. That is one very large array of transformers.
Too many downsides.
I passed one on the highway. It is a pretty sharp looking ride.
And a lot of us have become accustomed to 24 hrs a day service. I would imagine that would disappear also.
The battery swap idea is not a new one. Any distribution center in the US that uses electric forklifts has been swapping out batteries for years. You’ll need a charging station and some sort of mechanical lift to lift out the old battery and put the newly charged one in the car.
The demo I saw featured a robot doing the change out...so, if the thing works right, it shouldn’t need people.
But that brings up another aspect of the demo that was lacking - everything was pristine. The car was clean. The battery was clean. The robot was clean. The bay was clean.
That’s not real life. You’ll probably have to go through a car wash, before exposing the robot to dirt and mud. And, some person or some machine would have to clean the salt and grime off of the batteries.
I’ve seen a demo of this swap...the battery was on the bottom of the car, and a robot did the change out. Still alot of problems (see my post 21). Even a very large distribution center probably would not need power and battery space on the scale of just one gas station (I imagine a forklift only goes 10-20 miles an entire day).
It would be nice if something like the propane-tank-exchange model could work with batteries. Unfortunately, while propane tanks are largely fungible, batteries aren't (there isn't enough of a value difference between tanks which are in perfect shape and those which are a little beat up to encourage many people to keep good tanks for themselves and refill them while they exchange crummy ones in the hope of getting better ones; the values of batteries, by contrast, decline considerably with use). I don't know how one could effectively prevent people from hoarding the good batteries they receive from exchanges while turning in crummy ones, except by adding a substantial "big brother" tracking infrastructure.
Battery technologies are improving, and it's possible that some sort of exchange system might one day become practical. Even if it does, though, I would think it might be good for a car to have multiple batteries and use circuitry to discharge one battery at a time during most driving conditions [so that when a vehicle had been driven about half its range, one could swap out half the batteries].
Just a reminder of how many endangered California Condors, young Golden Eagles, sparrows, starlings, canaries and finches go into making a little red sports car these days.
I started thinking about how many batteries would have to be on hand, and I came the the same conclusion you did. We’re not talking about small battery packs here either.
The only way it could work is if a conveyer system fed batteries to the islands, and you could load the old on one to cycle back through.
It would require a lot of thought and preparation.
I’m not sure people would hoard them, because they need to ‘fill up’ again. If you’re not leaving town I suppose you would recharge whatever was in the vehicle, but if you weren’t happy with it, you could always go to the station and recycle it through. So I’m not sure it would be all that advantageous to hoard.
I have thought that it would be good to be able to swap your on battery packs at home. You could have one charging at home while you were at work. Come home and swap out.
I’d love to be in rush hour traffic on I95 when I have to “swap” a battery.
(Aren’t wind farms pretty much a proven failure?? )
Nice looking ride.
How far does it go with four Al Gore-sized greenies in the Arizona heat with the a/c cranked up?
It would also depend on if they had a crane on site to lift the batteries around. Is a guy in a 3 pc. suit going to do crap like that? No! So there will have to be a tech on hand to switch the batteries, at no less than $30 a pop, plus whatever the charge for the fresh batteries. It ain’t gonna fly!
If the guy could change six batteries per hour, the handling charge could cover it at about $3.00 per change, labor. $2.50 wouldn’t be all that bad either.
I see some sort of a sled a small electric jack of some sort that you take out the old one with, and scoop up and place in the new one in with. You could probably do it in about five minutes if it was set up correctly. if you could do 12 changes per hour, the labor cost could drop significantly per change.
.....or recharging its batteries..............
I think they may set up franchises with Autozone, O’Reileys, NAPA, Pep Boys, and other auto parts stores.......or Starbucks.............
I saw one in Destin, FL a couple of weeks ago..........old farts.........
Not for the ‘farmers’................
It’s a convertible!...............
WE need a new battery. I propose these little gadgets ~ http://www.gizmag.com/3d-microbattery/27162/ ~ which, when not in use to power your car and lawnmower can be used as cores in photon torpedoes!
People who mostly use their car for commuting and charge it at home, but occasionally go on road trips, might make sure they put in the worst batteries any time they go on a road trip. People don't generally play such games with propane tanks because there's not even $20 difference in value between a brand new tank and the worst tank one might get at an exchange. Up the price scale to thousands of dollars, though, and such gamesmanship becomes worthwhile.