Fuel Smarts

Could Tesla Solve EV Range Issues With Battery Swapping System?

September 2017, TruckingInfo.com - Feature

by Jack Roberts - Also by this author

Tesla has filed a patent for a hoist system capable of swapping out electric vehicle battery packs in less than 15 minutes. Image via Tesla
Tesla has filed a patent for a hoist system capable of swapping out electric vehicle battery packs in less than 15 minutes. Image via Tesla

One of the major obstacles — or concerns, at least — regarding electric trucks has been the question of recharge times. Although advances have been made in fast-charge technology, returning a battery big enough to power a commercial truck to full capacity is still a time-consuming process that can take hours. As a result, most experts have theorized that any future electric trucks or vans will have in the commercial space will be limited to set, daily routes with fixed distances. Vehicles on these routes, conventional thinking goes, would return to their shops in the evening and recharge their batteries overnight.

Recently transportation analyst Rick Mihelic, in a study commissioned by the Stifel Transportation Equipment Equity Research Group, theorized that electric trucks could make a move into regional-haul applications if depleted batteries were swapped out for fresh ones at drop-and-hook terminals along the route.

It appears Mihelic is not the only one thinking along those lines. According to a report from Business Insider, Tesla is looking into a specialized hoist system that would make it easier, and faster, to replace batteries in an electric vehicle.

According to the report, Tesla filed a patent application in May for a system that can elevate a vehicle and replace a depleted battery pack with a fresh one. The patent says at least one technician would monitor the machine, which could be installed at remote locations along highways between cities and would be able to complete a battery swap job in under 15 minutes.

In other Tesla news, company founder and CEO Elon Musk said in a Tweet late last week that he hopes to unveil its much-anticipated electric truck in late October.


  1. 1. Erik N [ September 19, 2017 @ 06:55AM ]

    Tesla already has a battery swap station in a small garage at the Harris Ranch exit on I-5 in Coalinga, CA. This patent app is for a more mobile version (for cars). That said, I can see how a swap concept for trucks could solve a number of issues. At the same time it porbably creates an equal number of issues - swapping a 3 or 5 year old pack for a new pack for example. Battery swapping is already happening in the Port of Long Beach for a fleet of automated yard truck types vehicles, but this is a captive fleet where all equipment / battery life issues are well planned and managed. We'll see what next trick Elon has up his sleeve in about a month!


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