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Full battery swap for quick charging

I thought I read (at one time) - Tesla was researching how to "hot swap" batteries on the fly. Anyone else remember this? Am I crazy? Maybe it was another company?

The theory was it would take less time to swap the empty battery for a full one. Charging the empty battery would take longer than it would take to physically swap out the batteries.

Anyone know if there is still research around this topic? Specific to Tesla or not.
 

Tam

Well-Known Member
Nov 25, 2012
12,180
11,209
Visalia, CA
..."hot swap" batteries...

That technology depends heavily on money.

Others tried but couldn't survive because it's unprofitable.

I think Tesla planned that it could be profitable because of extra zero-emission vehicle credits (ZEV) earned.

I think in the beginning, cars companies didn't have to actually prove that all cars that they sold were using it. A proof of design that it works in every car and the option to use it is up to owners would be fine.

However, later on, the rule was changed that sufficient numbers of car owners must actually use it for Tesla to get extra ZEV credits.

Tesla owners were not eager to pay $80 for each swap so Tesla had to shut it down because of the rule change and low demand.
 
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I don't see how this would work from the standpoint of storage. The batteries themselves are not small, combine that with the infrastructure needed to swap batteries on multiple cars at once and the facility would have to be pretty big. Now multiply that with hundreds of facilities....yeah charging is the way to go.
 
The battery swap idea would work if you didn't own the battery but Tesla is not big enough to force that massive capital change. With their pilot swap shop you had to pick up your battery on the way back. Unwieldy. An Israeli company went bust trying to do the same thing. If battery swapping is to be successful, all cars must use one of about three standard battery sizes and have similar mountings so automated machines can change them. The batteries would be owned by the electric/energy company and you would be charged the difference in KWHs between the swapped battery charge levels. No more worry about battery degradation. This would require a massive government mandated standardization system and the government currently can't decide whether to walk or chew gum. Fast charging in 5-10 minutes is very difficult and potentially dangerous.
 
The battery swap idea would work if you didn't own the battery but Tesla is not big enough to force that massive capital change. With their pilot swap shop you had to pick up your battery on the way back. Unwieldy. An Israeli company went bust trying to do the same thing. If battery swapping is to be successful, all cars must use one of about three standard battery sizes and have similar mountings so automated machines can change them. The batteries would be owned by the electric/energy company and you would be charged the difference in KWHs between the swapped battery charge levels. No more worry about battery degradation. This would require a massive government mandated standardization system and the government currently can't decide whether to walk or chew gum. Fast charging in 5-10 minutes is very difficult and potentially dangerous.
So basically its like owning a really expensive Gillette razor on wheels. I would also like to see documentation on you claim that fast charging is "very difficult and potentially dangerous". That statement reminds me of the first time I drove through Oregon and I tried pumping my own gas. The attendant came running out telling me I couldn't pump my own fuel. His explanation of why Oregon does this was because it was dangerous to pump gas and besides people would be spraying it all over the place. My mind immediately went to the "Freak gasoline fight accident" scene in Zoolander.
 
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NIO is doing it in China. Don't know how sucessful, but they set them up next to a Supercharger.

I wish Tesla would have kept battery swapping. Elon made the case for it himself "Do you prefer faster, or free?"... "or you have the choice of the supercharger, which is and will ALWAYS be free". Ahem... not free anymore.


The Model S was originally designed for it... however after they ad-hoc added the battery shield (due to the battery piercing incident), they weren't able to automate it as intended; requiring manual intervention from humans.

It would have also been ideal for those who don't have the ability to charge at home (apartment dwellers, condos, renters). A friend of mine really wanted a MS (and lives in an apartment) bought one thinking battery swapping would eventually be his solution. He continues to drive and sit at a supercharger twice a week... and has a lot of regrets.

Also would have been great for "Robotaxi's"

Nio builds a battery swap station right next to a Tesla Supercharger
Nio-battery-swap-station-tesla-supercharger.jpg


I'm sure the Tesla owners in China are cringing, sitting in their cars while they watch NIO's go in and out in 5 minutes.

 
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Tesla owners were not eager to pay $80 for each swap so Tesla had to shut it down because of the rule change and low demand.

I doubt it was due to limited demand. They made it unappealing... it was never really made available; invite only. You had to make an appointment and it took a lot longer than 3 minutes.

DXe07BEVMAMq3K7.jpg


This is Supercharging in California... waiting in line for a charger (need to pee? lose your place!). Then wait to charge, and now you get charged to charge...
 

Az_Rael

Well-Known Member
Supporting Member
Jan 26, 2016
5,682
8,990
Palmdale, CA
Yeah, they were doing 3 minute battery swaps at Harris Ranch (small building with single car bay nearby the superchargers) by appointment only for $80. Didn't make any sense unless you were doing a speed run between NorCal and SoCal.

I think you also had to schedule your run home to get your original battery swapped back too. It was like a loaner battery for the trip, not a keeper.
 

ewoodrick

Well-Known Member
Apr 13, 2018
5,291
4,295
Buford, GA
This is Supercharging in California... waiting in line for a charger (need to pee? lose your place!). Then wait to charge, and now you get charged to charge...

Wow, how inconsiderate could Tesla be? Making owners pay for the energy that they use. Free lifetime Supercharging, IMHO was one of the worse things that Tesla ever thought of, and your picture is proof.
 
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ewoodrick

Well-Known Member
Apr 13, 2018
5,291
4,295
Buford, GA
I thought I read (at one time) - Tesla was researching how to "hot swap" batteries on the fly. Anyone else remember this? Am I crazy? Maybe it was another company?

The theory was it would take less time to swap the empty battery for a full one. Charging the empty battery would take longer than it would take to physically swap out the batteries.

Anyone know if there is still research around this topic? Specific to Tesla or not.

There were a couple of reasons why the concept got dropped
  • Charging capabilities got better
  • The automation to do the battery swap ended up being a little more than was cheap
  • It became a way to get rid of a bad battery
  • To keep people from swapping out battieries, you could only drop yours off and would have to pick it back up, which makes cross country travel unfeasible
  • The futuristic "needs" became better understood and it was no longer really considered as a need option
We drive from Ft Lauderdale to Atlanta last year and the trip only took about 30 minutes longer than an ICE, mostly because of a not needed stop that I wouldn't do again.

And, the Model 3 doesn't support it, the battery can't be quickly dropped.
 
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Wow, how inconsiderate could Tesla be? Making owners pay for the energy that they use. Free lifetime Supercharging, IMHO was one of the worse things that Tesla ever thought of, and your picture is proof.

No argument from me on the logic. It's hard to defend Elon, when those are the words out of his mouth "Supercharging will always be free". He said it many times and basked in the crowd applause.

"Supercharging will always be free... oh wait, we didn't do the math on that... psych!".

Which is more inconsiderate; owners using what they bought... or the CEO going back on his word?

p.s. Supercharging didn't start off as 'free'; it initially costs +$2500 (and bundled into the price of the 85)...
 
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ewoodrick

Well-Known Member
Apr 13, 2018
5,291
4,295
Buford, GA
No argument from me on the logic. It's hard to defend Elon, when those are the words out of his mouth "Supercharging will always be free". He said it many times and basked in the crowd applause.

"Supercharging will always be free... oh wait, we didn't do the math on that... psych!".

Which is more inconsiderate; owners using what they bought... or the CEO going back on his word?

I don't consider it inconsiderate, I consider it changing business model and changing world. When you are revolutionary, you win some, you lose some. The rules change. Dreaming that you will make a million cars is one thing, all of the sudden reality appears.
 
There were a couple of reasons why the concept got dropped
  • We drive from Ft Lauderdale to Atlanta last year and the trip only took about 30 minutes longer than an ICE, mostly because of a not needed stop that I wouldn't do again..

I always believed battery swapping would be more ideal for dense urban environments; not so much the long distance travelers... again, renters and those who can't charge at "home". It opens a whole new market of buyers... that demographic is going to be dependent on ICE cars and gas stations; and if they're going to pay for gas anyway, wouldn't they pay the equivalent for a pack swap?
 

David99

Well-Known Member
Supporting Member
Jan 31, 2014
5,061
8,137
Nomad (mostly US)
Charging turned out to be far less of an issue than initially anticipated. For daily driving, people were fine charging at home. For trips, a 20-30 min break is just fine. That's what most people do anyways. Supercharging is fast enough not to be an inconvenience. Battery swap tried to solve a problem that didn't turn out to be one.
 
That technology depends heavily on money.

Others tried but couldn't survive because it's unprofitable.

I think Tesla planned that it could be profitable because of extra zero-emission vehicle credits (ZEV) earned.
....
Tesla owners were not eager to pay $80 for each swap so Tesla had to shut it down because of the rule change and low demand.
Yep. For those unaware of Better Place, start looking at Project Better Place for the beginning of its death spiral.

Just because Nio's doing swapping doesn't mean they're making a profit and going to survive.
 

ItsNotAboutTheMoney

Well-Known Member
Jul 12, 2012
12,714
11,504
Maine
They designed it in initially. It got them extra ZEV credits and they may have considered that it would be useful in the longer term. E.g. fast replacement of failed batteries in a large, aging fleet.

But after the failures where debris punctured the casing, Tesla added a protective shield. That shield got in the way of battery removal for swapping, making it slower.

Then CARB insisted they demo swapping, so they did in a limited way.
CARB ultimately removed the credits.
So, Tesla abandoned the idea in their design, completely.

Now they just talk about increased battery life.
 
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Charging turned out to be far less of an issue than initially anticipated. For daily driving, people were fine charging at home. For trips, a 20-30 min break is just fine. That's what most people do anyways. Supercharging is fast enough not to be an inconvenience. Battery swap tried to solve a problem that didn't turn out to be one.

Trader Joe's Employee/Civic Owner: Wow, that's a cool car. Is it electric?
Software Developer/Tesla Dude: Yeh man, and it's awesome to drive too.
Trader Joe's Employee/Civic Owner: Don't you have to charge it every day?
Software Developer/Tesla Dude: Yeh, but it's not a problem. I just park it in my two car garage at night. While I'm watching Game of Thrones on my 65" OLED TV , preparing my Blue Apron mealkit... and the kids are playing on their iPads, the car is charging from my Powerwall at night which gets replenished by my Solar Roof tiles during the day.
Trader Joe's Employee/Civic Owner: ...
Trader Joe's Employee/Civic Owner: Yeh man, takes me 20 minutes just to find street parking where I live. Nice car...
 
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