Tesla Motors announced today that their supercharger stations will soon include a fast 90 second battery swap option. Customers will be able to pull in to one of their charging stations and automatically get their battery pack removed and replaced with a fully charged one after just driving over a platform. This move is a game changer in respect to their marketing. They have effectively eliminated the major fear most drivers of gasoline cars have of buying electric: getting stranded/having to wait an hour to recharge somewhere.
These upgraded stations, which I expect to be all over the country in a year, also create a few new market opportunities for savvy third party businesses. In a typical gas station your customer base is a representation of the general population of the area, rich, poor, and in between. At a Tesla station, for the forseeable future you’ve got a group of well heeled customers, and potentially tons of information about them (if Tesla decides to turn their real estate into a “platform”). Tesla is building up a large real-estate asset with these stations, something that could prove very lucrative on the retail side. Think about the convenience stores they could build into their buildings! Gone would be the cheap hot-dogs rolling under a heat lamp, enter truffle fries and other higher end fast-casual offerings. No more cheap coffee from a machine, but perhaps high-end Nespresso or Starbucks “Express” ? The beauty of it is that it could all be tied to your Tesla account for payments and billing (including the hot swap).
So what are some of the potential business opportunities Tesla is creating that we should be looking at?
- Emergency 10 mile battery packs – something like this but maybe a 10 mile range
- Automated dry cleaner kiosks – this is an example
- Coffee Shop – remember no smells from a typical gas station or noises
- Japanese style vending machines – assuming Tesla doesn’t do their own stores
- Car washes – these are premium customers and image conscious too.
These are just a tiny sample of what can be done, what do you think are some opportunities?