At a demonstration at the Tesla Motors Inc. (NASDAQ:TSLA) design studio in Hawthorne, Calif., Tuesday night, Tesla CEO Elon Musk attempted to dispel doubts that electric cars will never be as convenient as traditional gas-guzzlers. Musk unveiled a battery-swap system that will give a Tesla Model S a complete charge in just 90 seconds.
That battery-swap demonstration took place on stage while a video showed a Tesla employee filling a gas tank. Musk assured the crowd that Tesla searched for the gas station in Los Angeles with the fastest fill-rate (10 gallons per minute) and told the demonstrator to fill the tank as fast as he could.
It took more than four minutes to fill the 23-gallon gas tank, which gave Musk time to demonstrate the Model S battery-swap service twice, with time left over to crack jokes about how he was boring the audience. The new battery-swap service is certainly an upgrade from the 20 minutes to an hour it takes to charge a Model S using the current Tesla “supercharging” stations.
The battery-swap service stations will be added to the network of supercharging stations Tesla is building around the nation. The supercharging will remain free, but the 90-second battery swap will cost between $50 and $80. Tesla has been investing heavily in building supercharging stations and said it will have more than 100 locations by the end of the year, allowing drivers to drive a Tesla car from Los Angeles to New York.
“The only decision you need to make when you come to one of our Tesla stations is: Do you prefer faster or free?” Musk said at the demonstration.
Despite the announcement of the battery-swap service, Tesla’s stock fell about three points on Friday morning.