During the demonstration, Tesla showed the crowd that it is possible to change two Model S batteries in the same time it takes to fill a conventional fuel tank at “LA’s fastest fuel station”.
The process begins with a Tesla owner driving their car over an automated machine at a Tesla Supercharging Station. The battery exchange then takes place with a robotic device doing all of the work; the driver does not need to step out of the car.
It won’t be long until this level of convenience is available to Tesla customers either, with the carmaker planning to have battery-swapping stations functional in California by the end of this year, before expanding the network across the US.
The battery-swapping stations will be housed alongside the existing (although some are yet-to-be-built) Supercharging Stations. Tesla CEO Elon Musk said that its customers will soon have the choice of “fast or free” battery power.
Supercharging Stations currently provide Tesla customers with free recharging facilities for the life of the car. However, the recharging process takes around 20 minutes to complete.
While the battery-swapping process takes just 90 seconds, there will be a fee attached to the service.
Mr Musk told Forbes that he hopes the fee will be equivalent to 15 gallons of fuel at the local market price - currently US $60-80 - which is charged to an on-file credit card to save time.
If you don’t like the new battery pack, you can always get your old one back; either on the return journey at the same Supercharging Station or by paying a fee and having it couriered to your house.
The Model S is now expected to come to Australia early next year - despite an earlier launch planned for late 2013 - according to representatives at Tesla's Asia-Pacific office.
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