Tesla is good at making two things: Luxury electric vehicles and grandiose claims. Unfortunately, it has a better track record of backing up the former than the latter, as a lengthy peeing match between Tesla’s Elon Musk and the New York Times fully demonstrated: It turned out it was a little too quick to bash the Times when there were a few flaws with the Tesla Model S the company wasn’t entirely forthcoming about. So Tesla’s claim about the battery pack would be awesome, except for one small problem.
That being, if you watch the entire “demonstration” Tesla staged, we never see anybody at Tesla actually change the battery pack. We just see a power indicator flip over. This is especially egregious because the entire event is literally designed not to show you the guy changing the battery pack; the car blocks the audience and the cameraman behind the car never looks at the guy switching the pack. For all we know, he’s checking his text messages back there.
Don’t get us wrong, it’s a neat idea, if a shockingly overpriced one at $60 for a battery swap. But unfortunately, Tesla tends to treat the best-case scenario as the only scenario. The company’s tendency to freak out over bad reviews and refusal to acknowledge that, hey, maybe building a luxury vehicle on relentlessly advancing technology is actually really tricky and that there may be a bug or two doesn’t help, either. We’re sure the swaps are fast and smooth in theory, but no theory about a product survives arriving to market.
Battery swap is a great idea and will likely help the Model S, a great car, sell more vehicles and see a wider acceptance in general. That said, though, until we see the pack actually being swapped, we’d budget a bit more time than Tesla thinks is necessary.
Dan Seitz is an obsessive nerd living in New England. He lives in the Boston area with a fiancee, a dog, a cat, and far too many objects with processors.