"We will pilot a pack swap program with invited Model S owners," the company said in a statement. "They will be given the opportunity to swap their car's battery at a custom-built facility located across the street from Tesla Superchargers at Harris Ranch, California."
Tesla said the program is "intended to test technology and assess demand."
On December 19, Tesla CEO Elon Musk tweeted, "the pack swap now operating in limited beta model for SF to LA Route. Can swap battery faster than visiting a gas station."
Tesla said the battery swap will be available by appointment and will cost "slightly less" than a full tank of gasoline for a premium sedan. The swap is expected to cost approximately $60.
The swap takes about three minutes, according to Tesla.
"With further automation and refinements on the vehicle side, we are confident that the swap time could be reduced to less than one minute," Tesla said.
The company is trying to determine the benefit of battery swapping compared to Supercharging.
"Tesla will evaluate relative demand from customers for paid pack swap versus free charging to assess whether it merits the engineering resources and investment necessary for that upgrade," it said.
Edmunds says: Tesla is eager to learn about the benefits of this battery swap technology and whether Model S owners prefer fast or free.