Tesla’s New Strategy To Make The Electric Car More Appealing

Tesla BatteriesAfter revealing free and fast nationwide electric car charging stations in early 2013, Tesla uncovered its new, automated battery-swap system. The Model S battery swap took place in about 95 seconds throughout a live Tesla event in Los Angeles and each of these battery pack replacements will cost around $60 to $80 for Model S owners. We asked our Zintro experts whether they think the new battery-swap system will add value to Tesla’s existing charging stations.

Technical project manager, Juergen Bauer believes that Tesla owes its success to its customer oriented approach and focus on premium marketing. “Every serious calculation did not find any business case with break-even for fast charging. When Tesla first opened the Supercharger network, they probably spent about the amount an average carmaker would give for an average marketing campaign,” notes Bauer. “They simply swept away one of the main shortcomings in EVs, which is range anxiety.” As Bauer also points out, battery-swap will be crucial to have a more competitive custom experience. “The advocator of swapping, Shai Agassi’s Israeli Corporation ‘Better Place’ just went bankrupt over the concept. Who wants to hand the business over to a stranger, lose control over battery aging condition and safety of the battery, weaken the car by the need to design the whole car body around a huge door in the bottom? No, carmakers, except Renault, avoided Better Place and their concept. Being liable for the whole chain in the eye of the customer, and getting all revenues as well. Not renting out batteries, but rather changing horses,” adds Bauer. “If you drive back on your trip with your swapped-in battery, you have to come in again and get back your own battery. Building swap stations for half a million each is still a serious economic burden. Tesla is in the premium segment. If one company can succeed in running swap stations with a black zero one day, it should be them.”

According to electric vehicle product manager, Michel Bayings, Tesla has performed a very successful marketing campaign during the recent Los Angeles event. “Tension was built up in a great way the last few days and the presentation was one big show. However, you couldn’t see anything of the swapping. In the past, ‘Better Place’ also had very good marketing for these kind of presentations, but still failed. I don’t say that it will not work, but there are too many open questions to state that it will be a success,” Bayings explains. “Range is big enough to get a break for fast charging when it is empty. What are the costs of such a replacement station? How many swapping is needed to break even? How are the batteries stored and are they kept on the right temperature? How many batteries will be on stock?” On the other hand, Bayings highlights Tesla’s strategy in Europe, where the company agreed not to use its own super charger and decided to make use of the standard DC chargers instead, which Bayings thinks is a good choice. “I see a lot of possibilities for maintenance purposes, but not as a new way of commercial charging,” he adds. “At least not with the information we have from a very nice show.”

By Idil Kan

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