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Tesla May Not Pursue Battery Swap Tech Due to Unpopularity

Motor Trend logo Motor Trend 6/10/2015 Alex Nishimoto

Driving long distances in an electric car once seemed like a dream from the distant future, but Tesla's Supercharger network makes driving cross-country not only possible, but pretty darn convenient, too. The fast-charging system may be too good, in fact, as it's making another Tesla innovation obsolete: the battery swap station. Tesla CEO Elon Musk said at the company's annual shareholder meeting that it's unlikely the battery swap capability will be further expanded.

"It's just, people don't care about pack swap," Musk explained to shareholders at the meeting. "The Superchargers are fast enough that if you're driving from L.A. to San Francisco, and you start a trip at 9 AM, by the time you get to, say, noon, you want to stop, and you want to stretch your legs, hit the restroom, grab a bite to eat, grab a coffee, and be on your way, and by that time, the car is charged and ready to go, and it's free. So, it's like, why would you do the pack swap? It doesn't make much sense." MotorTrend Image© Provided by MotorTrend MotorTrend Image

According to the CEO, every Model S owner in California was invited to try out the single battery swap station at Harris Ranch in Coalinga, Calif., but very few were interested. The invitation has now been extended to all owners, but Musk expects a similarly low take rate.

"We built the pack swap into the car because we weren't sure if people would want to choose the pack swap or not," Musk said. "We thought people would prefer Supercharging, but we weren't sure, so that's why we built the pack swap capability in. And, you know, based on what we're seeing here, it's unlikely to be something that's worth expanding in the future, unless something changes."

In three years, the Supercharger network has grown rapidly to cover most major cross-country routes in the U.S. In an infographic (pictured at right), Tesla showed how much it projects the network will grow by 2016. Though Tesla offers the rapid-charging service free for life to all customers when used for long-distance trips, Musk did say some owners had to be discouraged from using the chargers when just driving locally.

Model X Coming Soon

During the conference, Musk also gave an update on the Tesla Model X crossover, which has been delayed several times over the past year. The electric crossover will begin deliveries in three to four months, according to the CEO, who was boastful about the upcoming EV. Tesla Model X Concept© Provided by MotorTrend Tesla Model X Concept

"The Model X may arguably be a better SUV than the Model S is a sedan," Musk said.

Tesla May Not Pursue Battery Swap Tech Due to Unpopularity

Powerwall Output

Regarding Tesla Energy's Powerwall batteries for home use, Musk announced that power capabilities have been increased due to customer feedback, more than doubling power at 5 kW steady and 7 kW peak output. Pricing for the battery pack will remain the same. MotorTrend Image© Provided by MotorTrend MotorTrend Image

Source: Tesla

Tesla 2016 Supercharger Network projection© Provided by MotorTrend Tesla 2016 Supercharger Network projection 2014 Tesla Model S© Provided by MotorTrend 2014 Tesla Model S

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