Tesla Demonstrates Model S Battery Swap, Nissan Launches Leaf Battery Replacement

Leaf, Model S get battery programs.

Both Tesla and Nissan revealed new ways for electric-car owners to swap batteries. The Tesla Model S can now use battery swap stations which completely change the battery in under two minutes, allowing for even quicker “recharging” times than the company’s Supercharger fast-charge stations. Meanwhile, a new scheme allows owners of the Nissan Leaf to receive a new battery pack when theirs is worn out.

The former program is designed for Tesla Model S owners who can’t commit to waiting to recharge their car’s battery pack. It allows them to simply drive to a Tesla charging station, where an automated system unbolts the battery pack from beneath the car, removes it, and reinstalls a fresh, fully-charged battery pack. Owners can later return to the station to swap in “their” battery pack, now fully recharged, or opt to keep using the replacement battery pack. Unlike the Supercharger stations, which recharge the owner’s battery pack for free, Tesla owners will pay if they decide to keep the “replacement” pack from the battery swap station.

“So the only decision you need to make when you come to one of our Tesla stations is, do you prefer faster or free?” Tesla CEO Elon Musk said at a presentation last night.

The battery swap process takes about 90 seconds — 1:33 and 1:36 minutes in two Tesla demonstrations — which the company says is half the time it takes to refuel a traditional gasoline-powered car. At the Supercharger facilities, recharging a Tesla Model S battery pack takes at least 20 minutes.

Nissan Leaf owners, meanwhile, can now take advantage of a new battery replacement scheme. Before the standard warranty on the electric hatchback’s battery pack expires — the warranty lasts five years/60,000 miles — buyers can elect to pay $100 per month for the battery replacement program. During that time, Nissan will replace any Leaf batteries that fall below 70 percent storage capacity or exhibit any defects for free. It’s an easy way for Nissan Leaf owners to get additional peace of mind about the car’s long-term durability, whether it’s necessary or not.

“The great majority of our current Leaf drivers will never need this battery replacement option,” Nissan electric vehicle sales director Erik Gottfried said in a statement. “Customers have an economical option should they choose to replace the battery for whatever reason.”

The standard battery warranty, like this replacement plan, ensures that owners receive a new lithium-ion battery pack if it drops below 70 percent capacity — or nine of the 12 charge indicator bars on the Leaf’s instrument cluster. The program will be available on all Nissan Leaf hatchbacks and starts in 2014.

Sources: Tesla, Nissan