This week I drove down to Southern California to attend a funeral in an off the beaten path location making driving more pleasant than flying. On the way back today I stopped at the Harris Ranch supercharger to charge just before 9am. Always curious, I stopped by to check out the old car wash and the back door was still open with a bunch of construction guys around.
The main “car wash” / battery swap area had a visible hole in the floor and some stairs leading down below along with another room to the left. Both appeared to be quite clean. In this zoomed in shot you can see the stairs to the right and a hint of the hole in the floor.
A few minutes later a Tesla employee talked to me, so I stopped taking photos. He did say that the battery swap announcement would be coming soon. By the time I arrived home, Tesla had announced a Beta of this program.
“Starting next week, we will pilot a pack swap program with invited Model S owners. They will be given the opportunity to swap their car’s battery at a custom-built facility located across the street from the Tesla Superchargers at Harris Ranch, CA. This pilot program is intended to test technology and assess demand.”
The employee had asked me if I frequented this route, and I said not really, so I suspect they are actively looking for Beta testers.
When I was at the funeral, another person from the San Francisco Bay Area quoted their driving time in their ICE and it was clearly faster than mine. I was in no particular hurry and spent an extra day going down 101 instead and enjoying the coast. But I could definitely see a use for a battery swap station for long stretches on I-5, and I would have been happy to pay the price of a tank of gas today for a three minute or less fill up. I have definitely experienced times when I have not really wanted to wait for the car to charge. And I’d be more than happy to time the swap!
The swap will currently take three minutes because of the shield that was installed to prevent debris hitting the battery. Tesla says they can get this time down to one minute; either way it would be a nice alternative for supercharging when your in a hurry or not hungry.
While I was there a Tesla corporate car arrived with MFG plates to test the swap but they quickly closed both the front and back doors. They also told the construction crew to clean up the area.