Last year, Tesla announced plans for a new battery swap technology that would give Model S owners the ability to replace their depleted battery with a fully charged one in less time than it takes to fill a gas tank. Tesla is now ready to launch a pilot version of that technology, and it’ll kick off in Harris Ranch, CA.

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The battery swap pilot program is intended to test the technology and see how much demand there actually is for it. Tesla says that initially, the swap will only be available by appointment and “will cost slightly less than a full tank of gasoline for a premium sedan.” The battery swap will take about three minutes to complete, since more time is needed to remove the titanium and hardened aluminum ballistic plates that now shield the battery pack.

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Tesla predicts that in the future, the battery swap will take less than a minute as the program becomes more automated. During the pilot program, Tesla says that it will evaluate relative demand from customers for the paid battery pack swap, versus free charging via the Supercharger network.

+ Tesla Motors

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