Not sure if this has been talked about before but I am thinking about Elon's comment recently about the possibility of recharging the Model S faster than you can fill up on a tank of gas. To me this can only mean some sort of battery swap situation. Unless Elon really has something special up his sleeve!
Better Place's model of costly automated battery swap stations never made sense to me because as batteries evolve and we begin getting close to the holy grail 500 mile range I believe the need for such stations will decline dramatically, leaving the company who spent all this money on battery swap infrastructure holding the bag with useless swap stations that are rarely used.
Instead Tesla could use the service centers / stores for use as battery swap stations until batteries evolve to a certain point.
Think about it, all the lifts, tools, and staff are in place to quickly change out a battery (provided they are given say 24 hours notice). The service centers will always need to be there to service more owners in the future anyway so do not become obsolete over time like Better Place's automated swap stations will eventually.
You might pay $25 for the swap (for a fully charged battery) and your own battery could remain at the service centre until you return (maybe a $2 per day storage fee could apply as well)?
You would pay for everything (swaps + storage fee) on your return trip when you pick up your old battery.
If you were moving house permanently (from say New York to Florida) and not returning Tesla could arrange to transport your battery to the nearest service station in your new location, again for a fee of course.
To prevent abuse people using the swap system would have to agree to switching on a GPS locator within the swapped battery. This would prevent people from simply swapping out their old depleted battery (capacity wise) for a swapped new one and never returning to pick up their old battery.
Perhaps depending upon the condition of your old battery compared to the swapped one Tesla might offer you the opportunity to pay the difference and keep the swapped battery.
Say your old battery was at 80% capacity after 5 years of ownership and the swapped battery was at 95%..you could pay to upgrade and keep the swapped battery.
I believe Tesla is going to be interested in retaining old Tesla batteries for use in energy storage systems with Elon's other company SolarCity.
Anyway just thought this would be an easy and affordable way for Tesla to introduce battery swapping without investing in specific automated battery swap stations at great expense.
Most people know a day or two in advance when they are taking a big road trip. Just call the service stations you will be passing by on your journey and book in your battery swaps. So long as your are there within an hour of your booking Tesla could guarantee that the swap will take no longer than 5-10 mins or the swap is free!
This would give people the choice between a paid faster swapping service or a free but slightly slower supercharging option. Eventually as batteries/ultra capacitors evolve supercharging will become even faster and battery swapping may become obsolete. If it does at least Tesla wouldn't have invested in specific expensive automated battery swapping facilities like Better Place.
Just my two cents.
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