Tesla's Elon Musk Channels the Late Steve Jobs

Tesla (NASDAQ: TSLA  ) dazzled a crowd last Thursday night during the electric-vehicle maker's battery swap event in California. The company's CEO, Elon Musk, took the stage to host a demonstration of how Model S owners can recharge their all-electric cars in half the time it takes to refill a traditional car with gas.

Seeing is believing
It's game on for gas cars versus EV technology. In just 90 seconds, Tesla can replace your EV's empty battery with a fully charged one. During the presentation Musk explained:

When you come to a Tesla supercharging station you have the choice of the supercharger, which is and always will be free... Or, you have the choice of a battery pack swap, which is faster than you can fill a gas tank. ... The only decision that you have to make when you come to one of our Tesla stations is do you prefer faster or free?

The audience responded with laughter and you couldn't help feeling as though you'd witnessed the rebirth of the late Steve Jobs.

Dressed all in black, Musk's showmanship really drove home the point that electric cars can be just as, if not more, convenient than their gas-guzzling equivalents. With its network of supercharging stations, Tesla is working to address the lack of charging infrastructure that plagues EV adoption in the United States.

From the pump to the plug
The swap solution for Tesla's battery pack, will be an option that's available at all Tesla supercharger stations. For about the cost of a tank of gas, between $60 and $80, Tesla drivers can swap their battery for a fully charged one in less than 90 seconds time. According to Reuters, "Drivers who choose to swap must reclaim their original battery on their return trip or pay the difference in cost for the new pack."

That seems fair. Meanwhile, for Tesla, the hope is that this added convenience would entice even more drivers to become Tesla EV owners. It's worth mentioning that these battery-swap stations could cost Tesla as much as $100 million to build, according to Musk. Still, that's a worthy investment if it helps Tesla turn more skeptics into believers and more drivers into Tesla EV owners.

Electric is the future
Tesla's plan to disrupt the global auto business has yielded spectacular results. From the company's innovative retail strategy to its most recent battery-swap solution. However, giant competitors are already moving to disrupt Tesla. Will the company be able to fend them off?

A recent Motley Fool report, "2 Automakers to Buy for a Surging Chinese Market", names two global giants poised to reap big gains that could drive big rewards for investors. You can read this report right now for free -- just click here for instant access.


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  • Report this Comment On June 24, 2013, at 6:15 PM, jamesdan567 wrote:

    The battery replacement station is also great for the future when you want to upgrade to a different size or type of battery. Quick battery replacement provides Tesla many interesting ways to help its customers save time and money.

  • Report this Comment On June 24, 2013, at 9:03 PM, autoinsider wrote:

    $60 bucks for a couple hunded miles isn't going to fly.

  • Report this Comment On June 24, 2013, at 11:12 PM, dhollinger wrote:

    wow, 90 second! I am so naive that I don't know if my battery are older or newer than the swapped battery; I am so naive that I don't know battery ages very fast. But there are always a few fools out there that don't know that battery will aging until they got one. BTW: battery aging faster when it is charging quickly.

  • Report this Comment On June 24, 2013, at 11:14 PM, dhollinger wrote:

    naive enough to have this swapping idea....

  • Report this Comment On June 24, 2013, at 11:46 PM, Petronilus wrote:

    A few things to keep in mind:

    1. When your range is getting near 300 miles and beyond in the future and you keep your car charged from home, outside charging becomes the rare event for most people. Thus you end up saving a ton of time not having to get gas.

    2. Future battery technology is promising great improvements in range, charging time and durability. E.g. a recent news from Germany "Scientists from the Center for Solar Energy and Hydrogen Research Baden-Wurttemburg (ZSW) in German developed a highly advanced type of lithium-ion batteries that retain as much as 85% of their original capacity even after being used every day for 27.4 years.".

    And this battery technology is promising much higher capacity also which could allow a 1000 mile range.

    Considering an EV drive train is much simpler and can last much longer than a complex gas engine with transmission and even your break pads almost never get used with regenerative breaking, future EV cars will potentially become very durable indeed.

    Some skepticism is always good about research announcements but generally there is nothing indicating that we are at the end of the road for battery technology.

  • Report this Comment On June 29, 2013, at 7:14 PM, RussellL wrote:

    "Drivers who choose to swap must reclaim their original battery on their return trip or pay the difference in cost for the new pack."

    Since you are "renting" the battery, it's age is less of a concern.

    I wonder, if you own a 40kWh are you able to swap for a 85kWh during trips? That would be awesome!

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