Where is Tesla taking us?

We know they plan a network of charging stations. How far will that go?

I want to see full-service pit stations that can change batteries faster than they can charge them. Even faster than you can fill a 15-gallon tank.

Customer: Car says it needs a lube. I’m going inside for a rest.

She has already accepted the service with a tap while rolling into the service bay. Her instructions echo what the mechanic has already downloaded from the car.

Station: Did you want to freshen these tires? We have a new set just like yours on clean rims. Takes about 10 minutes. If not we’ll park it over there with fresh batteries and lube.

The verbal offer echoes what the driver can already read on her car’s screen. With another tap the deal is accepted. She thinks for a second, then taps “Wash” and places her car in “station valet” mode. She reads the estimated time of departure from the screen and walks inside.

A station or its agent is equipped with a device that allows the vehicle to be driven around the station. After the mechanical work is finished, the car is pulled forward into a wash bay, then dried and parked. The on-board computer and the station have independent alarms which are triggered if a car in station valet mode somehow leaves the premises.

The customer’s account profile contains her billing and communication preferences. She has opted to receive a text message describing the location of her car. Thoroughly refreshed, they reunite to continue their journey.

That’s a nice visit to a service station, manned or unmanned. But the one you’ll do most often is this: pull in, sit there for half a minute while your batteries are changed, pull out.