If there's one company in EV market which can grab the attention of journalists around the world, it has to be Tesla Motors. Tesla is on the verge of announcing a revolutionary swappable battery pack for its award-winning Model S. The company is set to demonstrate the technology "live" this evening, with Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk announcing the demonstration on twitter.
There is no doubt that the electric vehicle market has over the last few days begun to ride a wave of good news. We have rumours General Motors is testing a new battery technology, we have Tesla announcing a new swappable battery pack, and good news on the electric car charging network front.
Was this unexpected?
While Tesla did give some vague indications earlier this year that it was looking to introduce swappable battery packs for its Model S vehicle, no timetable was given at the time. This is how the company operates, tempting and testing the market with new and innovative ideas then letting journalists stew while the company puts the finishing touches to what is often groundbreaking technology.
It has to be said that Tesla is not the first company to look at swappable battery packs indeed, U.S. operator Better Place (which recently folded) was based upon a similar idea. It seems as though Tesla will be different in the way in which it delivers the service and where it delivers the swappable battery packs – but we await confirmation.
Quote from ElectricForum.com : "Last week I setup an appointment for a test drive with the new Model S. I've seen the car, sat in it, and messed around with the display previously in the show room, and have been waiting for them to get a test drive vehicle locally so I can give it a spin."
How will this service be marketed?
The Better Place business model saw electric car users leasing batteries on a month by month basis and then stopping off at various service stations which offered the battery swap service. It is not clear exactly why the company folded, maybe it was too much too soon, but it seems that the Tesla model will be similar but not exactly the same.
It has to be said that Tesla has a very hungry audience, a very trusting audience, and those acquire the company’s vehicles are on the whole very content indeed. It therefore remains to be seen how this technology works, how quickly battery packs can be exchanged and indeed how the service will be delivered.
Is this a turning point in the industry?
We have seen a number of "turning points" in the electric vehicle industry although with the might of Tesla behind this particular move this is perhaps more encouraging going forward. Tesla has a habit of only putting its name behind a service and technology which is groundbreaking and reliable, therefore we are potentially on the verge of something big.
If this particular Tesla business model is successful and receives widespread take-up amongst Tesla customers then it will likely be rolled out by all of the other electric vehicle manufacturers. Even though we will eventually see separate companies offering electric car charging services the fact is at this moment in time the only real trust in the electric vehicle market is with the manufacturers, and sometimes that is very thin on the ground!
We can only hope that the Tesla razzmatazz surrounding the swappable battery packs is matched by the actual technology itself, which will see later this evening. If successful, this could be a pivotal moment in the electric vehicle industry and we will report on the feedback over the next few days.