Tesla Motors Inc., the electric-car make, showed a battery swapping system for its Model S sedan that’s faster than charging and ensures the car earns maximum zero-emission vehicle credits in California.
Musk and Franz Von Holzhausen, Tesla’s chief designer, demonstrated the system late yesterday at the company’s Hawthorne, California, design studio. The device removes and replaces the car’s 1,000-pound (454 kilogram) lithium-ion battery with a fully charged one in just 90 seconds, said Musk, who used it to swap packs in two cars faster than an Audi AG sedan could be refilled with gasoline.
“What we really want to show here is that you can be more convenient with an electric car,” said Musk, 41, Tesla’s chief executive officer. “Hopefully, this is what convinces people finally that electric cars are the future.”
Musk, who’s also building a U.S. network of rapid-charge stations to let Tesla owners drive cross-country, is creating exclusive infrastructure and features to boost the brand’s practicality and cachet. The pack-swapping for the US$69,900 sedans also bolsters Tesla’s revenue from regulatory credit sales.
California and nine states that follow its Zero-Emission Vehicle program require carmakers to generate compliance credits by selling models that emit little or no tailpipe exhaust, including plug-in hybrids, battery-only cars and hydrogen vehicles. Large manufacturers need the most credits to comply and Palo Alto, California-based Tesla, with annual volume too small to be covered by the rules, is a surplus credit generator.
Last month Tesla, which has nearly tripled in market value this year, said its first-ever quarterly profit was aided by US$67.9-million in ZEV credit sales to companies it didn’t name. Credit sales will drop in the second quarter and may disappear in 2013’s second half, Musk said in an earnings call last month.
Tesla has said it plans to sell 21,000 Model S cars this year, with deliveries to Europe and Asia beginning in the second half. Demand currently exceeds Tesla’s production capacity, Musk said yesterday, without elaborating.