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Tesla Set to Test its Battery-Swap Program Next Week

(Credit: Tesla)

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Tesla Set to Test its Battery-Swap Program Next Week

Tesla Supercharger

Tesla Supercharger (Credit: Tesla)

Though Tesla has had some issues in delivering on its promises in the past with the delays of the Model X and the updated Roadster, the company remains in the driver’s seat of the alternative fuel race. It has made pretty good on delivering on its Supercharger promise, and continues to grow this free-charging network across the U.S. and around the world. When the Supercharger network was first announced, Tesla also announced a battery-swapping program that would allow buyers to opt to have their battery replaced with a fully-charged unit in just 90 seconds for a small fee. Well, it took some time, but we’re finally about to see this program in pilot form next week.

According to a press release from Tesla, this pilot program was offered to only select Model S owners to test out its reliability, demand and cost-effectiveness. The program will take place across the street from the Supercharger station in Harris Ranch, CA. The replacement process will take approximately three minutes, not the 90 seconds that Tesla initially promised, but Tesla does go on to say that this time can be reduced to under one minute with additional automation and refinement. In order to get service, the selected Model S owners will need to set an appointment to have their batteries swapped, and the service will cost “slightly less than a full tank of gas for a premium sedan.”

While I understand the need to launch a pilot program to test the system, this seems like a waste of time and money to me. First of all, the owners need to schedule an appointment to have their batteries swapped. Imagine having to set an appointment to have your fuel tank topped off; that wouldn’t be very convenient, would it? Additionally, only offering it to certain buyers drastically limits Tesla’s ability to test the true demand for the system. And finally, charging a fee to your buyers to help you test out your own system? That just doesn’t sound right to me…

With the stipulations Tesla has in place for testing this system, I smell a complete failure. Give it to them for free or at a reduced price (you can make money once the system is 100-percent operational) and/or make it a drive-in service, not appointment based. One of those two stipulations have to disappear for this pilot to actually show the automaker how in demand this service is.

But who am I to tell Elon Musk what to do; he’s the one with the spaceship, not me…

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