Tesla ready to offer 90-second recharge with battery swap

Tesla Motors is getting to down to delivering on its commitment to offer fast charging for its electric Model S models.

CEO Elon Musk has announced that Tesla would offer the ability to swap a depleted battery for a fresh one in just about 90 seconds.

To drive home his point, Musk threw a party at Tesla design centre in Hawthorne, California and showed how two electric sedans could get a battery switch in less time than it took for a conventional car to get a 20-gallon fillup. The model would offer 265 miles of all-electric driving.

According to Musk, automated quick-change battery stations would be installed alongside the company's fast chargers, with the first ones going along major highways between population centres, like the Boston to Washington, DC.

According to Musk, battery swapping helped to put electric cars on the same footing as gasoline cars.

Meanwhile, state laws in the US pose a major hurdle to Tesla sales as the company explores direct sales to customers, bypassing the dealer system, which it says inflated the cost of buying a car.

No fewer than 48 states ban or limit direct sales of automobiles, while some states allow Tesla to sell its cars through company-owned stores. Others allow Tesla to put up showrooms but sales are not allowed.

Texas remains almost closed for business. The Austin American-Statesman reports, "You can visit one of the two galleries Tesla Motors operates in the state - one in Austin, the other in Houston - but employees can't tell you how much the car costs. They can't offer you a test drive. They can't even give you their website address. And if you buy one, the car is delivered by a third party - in a truck that's not allowed to have Tesla markings."

The state Senate in North Carolina has passed a measure that bans sales except through franchised dealers. After Tesla opened a store near Denver, the Colorado legislature passed a law to prevent the opening of more stores.  However, Illinois allows Tesla to sell cars at company-owned outlets.

The effort behind prevention of direct sales comes from existing car dealers, who like the arrangement they have. They claim to be trying to block "unfair competition," though, the competition they prevent seems unfair only to those who profit from a protected market.

Bob Glaser, head of the North Carolina Automobile Dealers Association told The Associated Press, a dealer who had invested a significant amount of capital in a community was more committed to taking care of that area's customers, and therefore amounted to consumer protection.