Tesla Introduces a Supercharger (No, Not What You Think)

Gary S. Vasilash

A challenge for the electric vehicle (EV) market—and there are many—is the issue of recharging when the vehicle is on the road.

This is the whole “range-anxiety” issue. You aren’t anxious about how far your car will go when there are gas stations almost everywhere.

Changing stations are another issue.

What’s more, charging EVs takes considerably longer than gassing up conventional vehicles.


Tesla Model S

“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, earlier this week of a solar-powered charging device, the Supercharger, which, in 30 minutes, can charge the 85-kWh battery of a Tesla Model S so that it provides a range of approximately 150 miles.

Tesla Motors has installed six Supercharger stations in California, Nevada and Arizona. The company says there are plans to install stations in 2013 so that there will be a network “from Vancouver to San Diego, Miami to Montreal and Los Angeles to New York.”

The distance between Miami and Montreal is 1,410 miles. So, at 150 miles per leg, this would necessitate 10 stops. At 30 minutes per charge, that would require five hours of charge time. According to Tesla, a 30-minute stop “is the convenience inflection point for travelers at a highway rest stop.” At the risk of sounding too Midwestern, it is worth pointing out that only a company based in Palo Alto, CA, is likely to come up with that determination.

Back to the charger. It uses a solar carport system from SolarCity. Musk happens to be the chairman of that company. The charger was said to have a low development cost (remember, these guys also make rocket ships, so solar chargers are probably a walk in the park), and each station is designed to generate more solar energy per year than is likely to be used by the cars.

Musk noted, “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. We are giving the Model S the ability to drive almost anywhere for free on pure sunlight.”

As long as there’s a Supercharger around.


Rockin’ it at the Tesla Supercharger launch party