John Paczkowski

Recent Posts by John Paczkowski

Tesla to Demo On-the-Road Battery Swapping

tesla_model_sTesla founder Elon Musk has long maintained that the battery pack in the company’s Model S electric cars is so easily removed and replaced that it can be swapped out mid-journey, eliminating the need for charging stopovers when driving longer distances. On Thursday, he said, the company will deliver on that promise.

In a Tuesday morning tweet, Musk announced plans for a live battery pack swap demo this Thursday at 8 pm PT.

If all goes well, this could be a milestone event for Tesla, which suffered some bad PR this year after a New York Times article questioned the viability of its cars for long-range trips. The company has been working hard to address the issue of long-distance travel, announcing plans at D11 to dramatically accelerate development of its network of Supercharger battery-charging stations, giving Tesla customers coast-to-coast coverage.

Enabling easy Model S battery swaps would bolster this strategy even more. Right now, it takes about seven hours to recharge a Model S at home, and an hour at a Supercharger station. Offering folks the ability to simply swap out a battery would obviously drastically shorten that time. Problem is, Tesla batteries weigh in excess of 1,000 pounds.

But Musk is nothing if not a visionary, as he demonstrated in abundance at D11. And he’s clearly got a viable solution in mind. We’ll learn what it is on Thursday, and perhaps hear a bit more about the “specialized public battery swapping facilities” that Tesla says it plans to introduce in the future.

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I think the NSA has a job to do and we need the NSA. But as (physicist) Robert Oppenheimer said, “When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and argue about what to do about it only after you’ve had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atomic bomb.”

— Phil Zimmerman, PGP inventor and Silent Circle co-founder, in an interview with Om Malik