One of the biggest objections people have to electric vehicles is the limited range. It’s easy to find a gas station when you’re on the road, but chargers for electric cars aren’t as common. Even though most people don’t drive enough in an average day to need a charge away from home, range anxiety is still a problem. Tesla is pursing battery swap technology as a possible solution.
This isn’t the first time Tesla has investigated battery swapping. Several years back the company showed off one possible method that was done robotically. All a Tesla owner had to do was drive up to a swapping station where the old battery was removed and a new one installed in less time than it takes to gas up a car.
The idea is to remove the need to find a charging location and eliminate sitting around and waiting for your car to charge. This could be especially appealing to those on a road trip. It sounded cool and it looked cool, but Tesla ditched the idea. Instead, they focused on increasing their Supercharger network.
Now, according to a recent patent, it looks like Tesla never completely gave up on battery swapping. The new system is not completely automated like the old one and will require technicians to do the job.
That sounds like a step backwards, but it’s a better solution. The old system had everything beneath the car like a pit at an oil change station. The customer simply drove up and everything happened underground. The new system has the car going up on a lift for the job so technicians can access the battery.
The patent shows a process that will take longer than the automated method at 15 minutes rather than 90 seconds, but by adding people to the mix and taking the whole thing out of the ground it could provide more flexibility. It it’s not built-in to a single location, then there’s the possibility it could be mobile. Maybe you need a battery out on the road in the middle of your trip. This type of rig might be able to come to you.
It’s an interesting solution to the battery charging problem and it shows Tesla isn’t giving up on new ways of charging its vehicles. The more convenient they can make the charging process, the more likely the public will buy into the idea of going electric.