On June 18, Tesla promised a live demonstration of its battery-swapping technology for the Model S, which will allow owners to get a fully juiced car faster than a battery can be charged and a gas tank can be filled. As promised, they demonstrated this feature tonight, achieving a full battery swap in less than 90 seconds. You can see the process for yourself after the break. [Update: Official Tesla video added!]
The demonstration took place live just now at the company's Hawthrone design studio. As we mentioned, the swap took place in less than the allotted time, with Musk making a joke that there was some extra time for talking. Not leaving it at that, Tesla repeated the swap on a second Model S. Again, the swap finished faster than the allotted time.
While Tesla has been pushing its Supercharger stations, having recently announced an expansion of the offering, as well as a new technology to speed up charging, there was still an issue with how customers would deal with situations where they couldn't wait for their battery to recharge. With a gasoline engine, obviously, refilling would take only a few minutes.
This is what swappable batteries aim to solve, allowing owners to be on their way with no hassle. As you can see in the demonstration, the entire swapping process is automated, with the vehicle's owner never having to step out of the car. This is an ambitious undertaking, one that has taken down companies in the past. Tesla has succeeded where others have failed, however, and so we'll have to see how this plays out.
According to Tesla Motors, owners can either swap the battery back in on their next visit, or they can pay the difference via a billing, whichever is more convenient. Someone who frequents one particular location, for example, might elect to swap their original back in, while someone else visiting a station in, for example, another state might elect to be billed for the difference rather than return for their original battery pack.