Elon Musk: Tesla to demo battery swap technology on Thursday

Electric car maker Tesla Motors (s TSLA) has long discussed making its cars able to have their batteries swapped out, but has yet to actually enable the tech in its cars. But now, following many rumors of an impending battery swap announcement, Tesla CEO Elon Musk took to twitter on Tuesday to say that on Thursday night, Tesla plans to publicly demo that technology for the first time at its design studio near L.A.

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Musk writes:

Live pack swap demo on Thurs night at 8pm California time at our design studio in Hawthorne. Seeing is believing. . . Video of battery pack swap will be posted to the Tesla website around 9:30pm, so those attending will see this first.

Battery swapping tech is a system that the beleaguered startup Better Place was trying to make popular. It entails essentially making the car chassis able to be quickly opened so that a battery with a low charge can quickly come out, and be replaced with a fully charged battery. The idea is to solve the problem of range anxiety (current electric cars can only go 200 to 300 miles on a battery) with a solution that takes minutes, or the equivalent time it takes to pump gas at the gas station.

Better Place Batteries Expected to Cost Almost $12K ApieceBut getting battery swap stations implemented has proven difficult. Better Place was only able to persuade car maker Renault to make one model, the Fluence Z.E., with a battery swap component. Building out the infrastructure technology has also been expensive, and Better Place spent hundreds of millions on its infrastructure.

If Tesla starts installing battery swap stations around its Super Charger stations, it could pull off what Better Place failed to achieve. Many people in the electric car industry still support the idea of battery swap technology as an answer for electric car infrastructure.

Tesla made its Model S car with a battery that is swappable, Peter Rawlinson, former VP and Chief Engineer for Vehicle Engineering at Tesla, told me during a factory tour back in 2010. But Tesla has yet to implement the tech.