Journalist Ed Niedermeyer remembers the exact moment he became a Tesla skeptic: Memorial Day weekend 2015. That’s when Niedermeyer traveled to the Tesla Supercharger facility in Harris Ranch, California to see Tesla’s first (and, it turned out, only) battery-swap facility.
At a live demo two years earlier, Tesla CEO Elon Musk had shown a Model S getting a replacement battery pack in 90 seconds—compared with four minutes to refuel a conventional car. Now that the technology was available to the public, Niedermeyer wanted to see it in action.
“I was down there three or four days,” Niedermeyer told Ars recently. “There was a ton of traffic and a ton of lines for the Superchargers.” Some people faced multi-hour waits. Tesla brought in spare Superchargers powered by diesel generators to speed things along. But the battery-swap facility stayed closed.