Tesla demos electric battery swap in just 90 seconds

The electric automaker shows how quickly a battery can be switched in its Model S sports sedan.

Lance Whitney Contributing Writer
Lance Whitney is a freelance technology writer and trainer and a former IT professional. He's written for Time, CNET, PCMag, and several other publications. He's the author of two tech books--one on Windows and another on LinkedIn.
Lance Whitney
2 min read
Tesla's demo shows how fast the Model S's battery can be swapped.
Tesla's demo shows how fast the Model S's battery can be swapped. Tesla

Which is faster: changing a battery in Tesla's Model S sports sedan or filling up a car's gas tank?

The electric automaker put that question to the test in a Fast Pack Swap Event captured on video Thursday.

Posted on Vimeo, the video revs up with Tesla CEO Elon Musk touting that owners of the Model S will face two choices when their car's battery is almost depleted. At a Tesla station, they can either have the battery recharged for free or have it swapped out for another battery. The choice, according to Musk, is whether you prefer free or faster.

The demo then shifts into gear by showing how long it takes to change a battery compared with filling a tank of gas in a conventional car.

Who finished the race first?

Well, it was a Tesla demo, so the battery swap naturally proved quicker, clocking it at around a minute and a half. Filling the gas tank, including the time spent pulling into and then leaving the station, took more than double the time at around four minutes. And while waiting for the tank to get filled, Musk had a second Model S pull up to repeat the battery change.

Of course, there is one drawback. The Tesla battery swap and required stations don't yet exist -- though they are on Musk's radar.

In May, the company filed a document with the Securities and Exchange Commission detailing plans to offer the "capability to rapidly swap out the Model S battery pack and the development of specialized public facilities to perform such swapping, which do not currently exist but which we plan to introduce in the near future."