Some of the greatest innovators and leaders aren't recognized as such because of their penchant to solve incredibly difficult problems – although many do just that. Rather, it's by solving problems with answers so simple that they're typically overlooked. Tesla (NASDAQ: TSLA ) has announced a press conference to be held today to demonstrate how its Model S will jump a hurdle some consumers and investors have complained about – the length of time it takes to recharge its battery. Even Consumer Reports, which recently gave Tesla's Model S a rating of 99 out of 100, had only one complaint: that it could take six hours to recharge a battery if traveling long distances. Here's how the problem has perhaps been solved.
Think outside the box
As I mentioned, sometimes the best answer is the simplest and is often overlooked. This time, though, the solution may have been overlooked because it had been tried before and failed. The company Better Place, which filed for bankruptcy this year, had a similar strategy. But its strategy had one flaw: It serviced consumers with lower incomes than your typical Tesla buyer, and it couldn't keep the battery swap cost low enough to remain successful.
Tesla hasn't yet provided any details on how this battery pack swap will take place, opting to demonstrate it instead. The idea of a battery swap instantly raises a few questions. For instance, as batteries age they consistently hold less and less charge, and swapping a battery for another of dubious quality could pose problems. If I just forked over at least $69,000 for a new Model S and then have to hand you my brand-new battery to exchange it for what could be a much older one holding less charge, I'd be very reluctant to do so. I'm quite sure Elon Musk has thought of this, and that it is a problem that already has a solution and will be explained tonight – but we'll see.
If Tesla has indeed drawn up a way for a quick, painless, and cheaper way to swap batteries for those drivers worried about traveling long distances, then it will be a very positive development for investors. The battery swap solution could boost revenues by bringing additional consumers to Tesla showrooms who were originally hesitant to purchase a Model S because of driving distance limitations. It would also give investors more confidence that Tesla will continue to innovate its way past other problems that will undoubtedly arise – giving more justification for its very lofty valuation. In addition to all those potential benefits, this development continues the seemingly endless positive publicity that Tesla has received lately, even through a recall – which was handled extraordinarily well.
Tesla has been one of the wildest rides in the stock market to witness this year, and the company has a very divided following. Many Fools are at opposite ends of the argument; some believe Tesla could live up to its lofty valuation, others believe that its share price has risen far ahead of its actual value. One thing is for sure: Tesla is jumping one hurdle at a time, and while I believe that the company will fight an uphill battle over the short term, it could be one incredible long-term story for patient investors willing to endure speed bumps throughout the decade.
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