Last night Tesla announced their battery swapping plans. From the start, their Model S has been able to swap batteries, very similar to what Better Place tried to get going. So what makes Tesla pursue this and expect to make a succes from this?
Tesla's pack swap will be installed at the current locations of super chargers, or at least the busiest of them. These locations will be dubbed Tesla Stations, where a Tesla driver has the option to swap a full pack in for a fee, or use the Super Charger, free of charge.
Why did Better Place fail and why will Tesla succeed with a comparable system? Firstly Tesla has a large group of users already and secondly because it is not fully depending on the swapping technology. Based on what is known now, the swapping system only costs a driver money when a swap is done. The Better Place model used a monthly fee. Swapping the battery pack is not something you would really need all the often, most of our daily commutes are well within the range an electric car in general could do. For the few cases you do need to go the extra mile(s), there are quick/super chargers and you can swap a battery pack if you are really in a hurry.
Better Place did not fail because they were too early with this idea, it was just they were depending too much on one system and a single OEM. I'm still curious where Shai Agassi is going though, do you think he could make a re-appearance at Tesla?