Tesla just keeps on rolling out new programs that make electric cars a real possibility for the majority of daily commuters. First came the introduction of the up-to-300-mile Tesla Model S, which was a revolution in EV technology in itself. Then came the release of the Supercharger network, which is free on any Model S with an 85 kWh battery – a $2,000 option on any Model S with a 60 kWh battery.
Sure, the Supercharger network is still small, but Tesla promises to have 98 percent of the U.S. covered by 2015 and enough to enable coast-to-coast driving in the winter of 2013. You can actually see a cool interactive map on the Tesla site. However, we’re not here to plug the website; we’re here to tell you that Tesla has again revolutionized the EV world with its pack-swap option at Supercharger stations.
This gives Model S owners the ability to choose waiting 20-plus minutes for their Model S to recharge and pay nothing or pay a fee and have their Model S’ battery pack swapped for a fully charged one. You’re likely thinking that these battery packs are so complex that it has to take hours to replace. But that’s not the case at all.
Thanks to Tesla using automation and a drive-over system, you can pull up to a station and drive over a small pit – similar to a quick oil-change place – and an automated system removes the discharged battery and replaces it with a fully charged one in just 90 seconds.
With Elon Musk being as flamboyant as he is – and rightfully so – he challenged the fastest gas pump in Los Angeles to a duel. Well, Tesla managed to swap out two Model S batteries before the gas pump could fill up an empty tank.
So it’s your choice: free or fast? We are just concerned with exactly how much this “fee” is for the pack swap. We bet it’ll run about the same price as a tank of gas: $50. Unfortunately, there is no ETA for the roll out of this program.
Click past the jump to read more about the Supercharger stations
Tesla Supercharger Network
Tesla’s Supercharger stations are a network of electric-vehicle charging areas that are specially tuned for charging Tesla models. Not only do these stations charge about 20 times faster than normal EV charging stations, giving the Model S a half charge in just 20 minutes, but it is also completely free for any Model S owner whose car has the 85 kWh battery. If you bought a 60 kWh model, no worries; Tesla can upgrade the to an 85 kWh battery for $2,500.
What’s more, Tesla plans to convert all of its Supercharger stations to solar power only, so they will be as close to 100 percent green as possible.
Eight Supercharger stations opened in early 2013 in California, Connecticut and Delaware, and Tesla has huge plans for the network. By the summer of 2013, there will be 27 stations; by fall 2013, there will be coverage in most Metro areas; by winter 2013, coast-to-coast driving in a Model S will be possible; by 2014, 80 percent of the U.S. will be covered; and in 2015, Supercharger networks will cover 98 percent of the U.S.
You can see the map of Tesla’s anticipated Supercharger coverage for 2015 above.