I think it's a brilliant idea, and solves a lot of the "range anxiety" issues. Economically though, I'm not sure someone would want to be on the owning end of one of the changing stations given the very high capital requirements. I also think that people will be rather protective of their batteries and will probably opt for a supercharge rather than get one that's been depleted. With 50 batteries on hand, how many do you need to keep swapping to make money as an owner? You get $50 per swap and only 50 on hand, that's $2,500 per day assuming you use all 50 up in a day. A more realistic figure would probably be 1 or 2 per day. The charging station costs at least $500,000 to build, plus land/leasing costs, etc. makes the economic case very hard to digest, unless there was some federal subsidy to make it worth my while to take that risk. And even then, no business that relies on tax subisidies to make money is ever really a good idea.
The concept of battery swapping is a fantastic idea. The economics of it are just hard to justify.
50 would not be the max swap a day, unless you had to stockpile all the "owner" batteries. If it takes 60 min to fully charge a battery then the max you would need would be 60/1.5 = 40 (plus a few for spares) to run 24/7 always changing and charging. You could do 24*60/1.5 = 960 a day, with 50 batteries in the changer.
Automated (24hrs/day), 90 sec. Set up cost + a few batteries. Not bad. Probabally less expensive than whatever tech needed to do a 90 sec. charge at this time. Should be a temporary solution, but it will be NOW, and not the forever 10 years out that everyone always promisses.
Now why would you ever need a 85kwh battery if you can get a 90sec swap or a 20min charge at stations all over your route. Why would you buy any other electric than Tesla?
It is good for a communal transit system - don't forget we're going to China and Kandi is using this system to level the grid - but it is for roller skating around town not cruising Route 66.
It think that it all will depend on the pricing and locations. If the price is right it will will attract many more buyers that had hesitations previously. It addresses the needs of city dwellers.
The Superchargers will be in place for intercity travel i.e. SF to LA. If swaps are at destination cities that would be a coup. All barriers for entry removed.
Racer, I was skeptical a week ago, but I get it now. It's awesome because the company is still built on a solid car where you as a buyer own the whole car.
The swap feature is just for those 5 times a year you want to take a longer trip. And the beauty is Tesla gets the fee, plus helps them keep car prices down to the buyer as we don't have to get some 140 kwhr battery pack.
The swap stations are no more expensive then a Jiffy Lub. Maybe a little more, but not some big issue.