Tesla electric vehicle chargers support long-distance travel

Tesla electric vehicle chargers support long-distance travel

Summary: The Supercharger technology, powered by solar panels, take just a half-hour to recharge a Model S with up to three hours of 60-mile-per-hour drive time.

TOPICS: Emerging Tech

Even as it busily opens car showrooms in shopping malls that are more like interactive design studios than traditional dealerships, Tesla Motors has been constructing a network of ultra-fast charging stations for its sporty Model S so that it can travel longer distances than typical electric vehicles.

So far, Tesla has built six Supercharger stations, which use a solar carport system installed by national solar leasing company, SolarCity. That's great, because one of the biggest criticisms regarding electric vehicles is that they are replenished with power that is largely generated by coal-powered plants today.

But from the driver's standpoint, the capacity of the charger is perhaps more intriguing. It can provide up to 100 kilowatts of power, which means that it can recharge a Model S with up to three hours of drive time in about a half-hour -- the typical time that many travelers spend at highway rest stops.

The company has installed six of these stations so far in public locations throughout California, and it is targeting high-traffic corridors across the United States for other installations -- from Vancouver to San Diego, Miami to Montreal and Los Angeles to New York. Superchargers will migrate to Europe and Asia in the second half of 2013.

"Tesla's Supercharger network is a game changer for electric vehicles, providing long distance travel that has a level of convenience equivalent to gasoline cars for all practical purposes," said Elon Musk, Tesla Motors co-founder and CEO. "However, by making electric long distance travel at no cost, an impossibility for gasoline cars, Tesla is demonstrating just how fundamentally better electric transport can be."

The company also is encouraging Tesla owners to invest in the technology, since over time the solar charging can help defray the costs of charging the vehicles at home.

The Model S, which carries a base sticker price of around $50,000, can travel up to 265 miles on a single charge -- the longest of any of the production electric vehicles currently on the market. The cars can be configured with three different battery pack densities. 

Topic: Emerging Tech

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  • I've never spent more than 10 minutes at a rest stop. But even if I was

    inclined to pack a picnic or something imagine if youre the forth or fifth car in line. Then youre talking a two to three hour wait. This is not at all even close to "convenience equivalent to gasoline cars for all practical purposes" Mr. Musk. But then you knew that, you just dont like facts getting in the way of your pr spun bs. And how many months will that battery pack give 265 miles on a single charge. 6? 12? How long until its only giving 150 or a 100 and Id have to buy another multi-thousand dollar battery pack? Forget that these electric cars are for all intents and purposes coal fired for a sec, how about all the toxic waste and hazardous materials being dumped in the mining and manufacturing of these battery packs and in the "recycling" of them.
    Johnny Vegas
    • True, it's just a first step

      Range and recharge time need a lot of improvement before electric vehicles can become practical. I have a large, inefficient SUV. I can drive 450 miles, with 9 people in the vehicle, while dragging a house (travel trailer), and be ready to do it again in less than 15 minutes of fueling. More efficient vehicles can do similar things, carrying the whole family on a cross country vacation, and spend even less time fueling. Until electric vehicles can fill this need, they cannot replace liquid fueled vehicles. Right now, it would take me several days in a Nissan Leaf to go as far as I can in one tank of fuel on the SUV, because every 40 miles, I need an 8 hour recharge.

      Perhaps, these improvements in battery technology will also help intermittent energy sources like solar and wind to be practical.
      • Really?

        Just what milage do you get with your loaded SUV pulling your travel trailer? And, how big did you say your gas tank was? Or, are we talking 'down hill'?
        • ¿Details Matter?

          [grin] Not that it matters, but we get around 12mpg with all 5 of our kids moving down the road in front of our travel trailer, hauled by a 7.3 diesel. 38 gallon tank, so that leaves a theoretical range of 456 miles, although I try not to run more than ~350 miles between fuel stops.
  • As with the Volt, but even more so

    The cost of the vehicle is heavily subsidized by your hard earned tax dollars. The $50,000 car is actually closer to a million dollar car taking the prorated cost into account. Tesla and Fisker are essentially funded by the gummint... and Fisker took your $529Million to Finland to build the cars after promising to use the money in the USA to bolster jobs. Chevy Volts figured in at a quarter million not long ago, but a recent report says it is closer to $100,000 or so. The Fisker Karma's prorated cost is closer to $300,000 at current production rates... Keep on working, because Beeber and DiCaprio need you to subsidize their pet electric hot rods!
    • Typical brain dead stooge

      And oil companies aren't subsidized? Therapy, get some. Actually, get a lot.
      • Aahhh,

        you've been listening to Obama. Oh,well.
        • Yes..

          you do need therapy.
          • Aaaaaaaha!

            You've been listening to Obama, too!
          • *C*V

            At least you know how to copy and paste...
  • What if there...

    was more than one electric vehicle waiting at the charging station? I know that's laughable and quite a stretch, but a line of 200 cars (conservative estimate for the San -Diego-LA corridor), your wait would be...
    Tony Burzio
    • There is a photo of a station here...

    • More Slots.

      The solution to your posed queuing problem is obvious: more slots. The Tesla SuperCharger station initially shown has four charging stations.

      If Tesla deploys their planned 100 SuperCharger stations by 2015 and the stations are of this average size, there will then be 400 charging slots available. By 2015 Tesla plans to have delivered 60-75,000 vehicles world wide. If 50,000 of those vehicles are located in the US and say 2% of these are on a road trip on any given day, then those 400 charging slots are available to service 1,000 Tesla's. So, each charging station should see, on average, 2.5 cars per day. Before 'congestion' occurs we would need to see a 20:1 peaking factor. That sure doesn't sound like overloaded infrastructure to me.
  • Anyone see the flaw here ?

    Solar panels are as much use as a chocolate coffee pot if it's a night drive.
    Alan Smithie
    • Probably charge battery banks

      with the panels. The Superchargers cost $250,000 per unit and can charge four to six cars at a time, they claim.
    • No Flaw

      Energy Storage in batteries at the station. That way the batteries charge while there are no cars in line and discharge when cars draw current.
    • Grid...

      Surely these stations will store energy by exchanging power with the grid.
    • solar panels cost

      For more information about solar panels cost you can visit http://solarpanelscost1.com
  • 9,650 gas free miles!

    I've been a LEAF owner for 6 months now and the only regret I have is not buying one sooner! My daily commute is 60 miles round trip. I get home with 20 miles to spare every day and I only charge my LEAF to 80%. The average range on the LEAF is between 70 and 100 miles...not 40 miles! This article is about long distance driving. Example San Francisco to Los Angeles aprox 300 miles. The LEAF has never claimed to be a long distace driver, but it does have a quick charge port that can charge the LEAF from 0 to 100% in 30 minutes. I am a middle class Republican/Veteran that is sick and tired of paying gas companies hundreds of dollars every month.
  • There is Magic Here

    There is a lot more 'magic' to what Tesla has done here than seems to be appreciated. By focusing only on the case of a single parent with OCD, 8 kids and a Ford Expedition trying to break their best non-stop time on the 900 mile hop to Grandma's house - and the importance of really really fast fill-ups - misses reality. Likely road trip missions for $100,000 sport sedans are things like Chatsworth (California) to Las Vegas, or Palo Alto to Lake Tahoe. If the trip is much over 500 miles, people who buy these vehicles are most likely to fly.

    This means that the 'design point' Tesla road trip will be a single stop affair. And since Tesla is putting these SuperChargers near restaraunts, you can enjoy a real lunch (say three courses, wine and coffee) while your Model S gets charged. And charging your Tesla AND lunch will cost you LESS than just gas for the Panamara you left in the garage.

    By tying these solar installations into the electric grid at major retail locations, one of the significant costs of the solar installation - the high power grid connection - is avoided and Tesla (or Solar City) has potential customers for their surplus electricity available at or near retail rates. I would not be surprised if these installations are self-supporting from a capital cost standpoint based on the solar power generation alone. If the local retail establishments chip in a bit on the capital cost (space in their parking lot, power cable to the local distribution...) that would probably offset the value of electrical energy delivered to Tesla vehicles. Consider the case of the new Tesla SuperCharger station located in Barstow, CA. It is about half way between LA and Las Vegas and has one of several outlet malls on the LA - Las Vegas route. If I had a store in the Barstow mall, I would sure like to see Tesla's stopping there...

    On the issue of the absolute time spent charging a Tesla compared to a gas powered car it may be useful to consider the regular time spent fueling the gas powered car compared with the essentially zero time spent recharging your Tesla in the garage at night. The three or four times a year a typical Tesla owner will spend a half hour at a SuperCharger station instead of just 10 minutes at a gas station while traveling is more than offset by the 50-100 times a year that the owner of a gas powered car will spend 15 minutes or so driving to and filling up at a gas station instead of just plugging in their car at night.