Tesla Plans Model S Battery Swap as Fast Refueling Option

Tesla Motors Inc. (TSLA), already adding a network of fast-charging stations for its luxury electric cars, is readying a service to rapidly swap a car’s battery with a charged pack for added convenience.

The company, based in Palo Alto, California, announced last week plans for a June 20 press conference at its design studio in Hawthorne, California, to show “a way for the Tesla Model S to be recharged faster than you could fill a gas tank.”

Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk, in a Twitter post today, said the event would feature a “live pack swap” demonstration at 8 p.m. California time on June 20. “Seeing is believing.”

The carmaker, which has more than tripled in market value this year, is creating exclusive infrastructure for customers of its all-electric sedan priced from $69,900. Tesla’s plans to offer battery-swapping capability for the Model S may fare better than a similar strategy by Better Place Inc., a provider of electric car services that filed for bankruptcy this year.

“One of the problems with the Better Place model for battery swapping was that it wasn’t cheap,” said Alan Baum, an automotive analyst at Baum & Associates in West Bloomfield, Michigan. Tesla has higher-income buyers, who are “likely more willing to pay for a service like this that adds convenience.”

Better Place, also based in Palo Alto, offered charging services and battery swapping for an electric Renault SA (RNO) model at stations in Israel and Denmark. Better Place filed a motion for liquidation with an Israeli court last month after failing to attract new investments, according to a company statement.

‘Always There’

Tesla didn’t provide details today on the battery swapping service.

“Battery pack swap works with all Tesla Model S cars, past and present,” Musk said in a later Twitter post. “It was always there.”

The carmaker named for inventor Nikola Tesla said last month it will triple the number of solar-powered supercharger stations by the end of June to allow its customers to drive cross-country.

Tesla rose 1.2 percent to $103.39 at the close in New York. The shares surged have 205 percent this year, compared with a 16 percent increase for the Russell 1000 Index.

To contact the reporter on this story: Alan Ohnsman in Los Angeles at aohnsman@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Jamie Butters at jbutters@bloomberg.net

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