For Model S drivers, Tesla Motors' oft-delayed Supercharger announcement was worth the wait. The electric vehicle company today explained how it will expand its network of high-speed electric vehicle charging stations across North America (and hinted that the technology will come to Europe and other areas in the future).
The Supercharger roll out will take place as follows. The number of Supercharger stations will triple from eight today to 25 by the end of June, bringing coverage to more of California, the Pacific northwest, in Texas between Austin and Dallas, and in Illinois and Colorado, as well as the east coast. By the end of the year, Superchargers "will connect most of the major metro areas in the US and Canada," Tesla says, and by a year from now, the network will cover "almost the entire population of the US and Canada." You can see the 2015 map above (click to enlarge) and there's an interactive map over on Tesla's website that shows the predicted coverage area through the years. CEO Elon Musk said on a conference call today that he thinks there will be more in the ground by 2015 than the map shows today.
The first Tesla model, the Roadster, and other electric vehicles are not compatible with the Superchargers, so for right now, only Model S drivers will be able to use all these new stations. All future Tesla vehicles will be able to take advantage of the technology, though, and Musk said he's not against working with other automakers to make their EVs compatible. The batteries need to be built with Supercharging in mind, he said, and Tesla needed to "solve the problem of long-distance travel and we can't wait for others to agree with our strategy. If we wait for some sort of consensus, it's going to take too long. We just need to get going and other manufacturers can either copy us or join us."
"Tesla needed to solve the problem of long-distance travel and we can't wait for others to agree with our strategy." – Elon Musk
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Musk also said there is grid storage – using huge, half-megawatthour batteries – at some of the stations that have solar power, where stationary batteries take energy from the sun and store it until a Model S pulls up. That means these stations can be completely taken off the grid, so that "even if there is a zombie apocalypse," Musk said, "you will still be able to travel throughout the country using Superchargers." Good to know.
We heard before that Tesla might announce something about a battery swap. When asked about that today, Musk coyly said he's a big fan of options and that, "maybe we'll have something to say about that in the future."
On top of the increased number of stations, Tesla is also upgrading the Supercharger technology to be faster. Instead of charging at 90 kW, the new rate is 120 kW, which means you can add three hours of driving to a pack in "just over 20 minutes." Tesla previously announced that Supercharging is and will remain free, for life, which makes going on a road trip awfully affordable once you've paid your $80,000 for a Model S. Musk said he's going to do just that, retracing a college road trip from LA to NYC, with all of his kids (he has five) later this year.
"Even if there is a zombie apocalypse, you will still be able to travel throughout the country using Superchargers."
Tesla opened its first Superchargers last October. At the time, the company said each station cost around $250,000 to install. Today, Musk said the stations cost $150,000 without solar and $300,000 if they have solar panels.
THURSDAY, mAY 30, 2013 – Tesla Motors (NASDAQ: TSLA) today announced significant expansion of the Tesla Supercharger network. Supercharging enables Tesla Model S drivers to travel long distances, for free, indefinitely.
The expansion of the network builds upon the success of the Tesla Supercharger network that covers California and Nevada on the west coast and the Washington, DC to Boston region on the east coast. The Tesla Supercharger network has enabled an estimated 1 million miles of driving since going live in October 2012. Superchargers are designed for city to city travel, enabling Model S electric vehicle drivers to travel for about three hours, take a 20 to 30 minute break to grab lunch or a soda or coffee, and get back on the road charged up. For free.
With the accelerated rollout of the Tesla Supercharger network, Model S drivers can expect:
· Triple the number of Tesla Supercharger stations by the end of next month, including additional stations in California, coverage of the northwest region from Vancouver to Seattle to Portland, Austin to Dallas in Texas, Illinois and Colorado. There will also be four additional eastern seaboard stations, expanding the density of the network to provide for more convenient stopping points.
· Within six months the Tesla Supercharger network will connect most of the major metro areas in the US and Canada, including expansion into Arizona, additional stations in Texas, Florida, and the Midwest, stations connecting Ottawa to Montreal, and across North and South Carolina into Georgia. It will also be possible to travel diagonally across the country from Los Angeles to New York using only the Tesla Supercharger network.
· A year from now, the Tesla Supercharger network will stretch across the continent, covering almost the entire population of the US and Canada. The expansion of the network will mean that Model S drivers can take the ultimate road trip -- whether that's LA to New York, Vancouver to San Diego, or Montreal to Miami – without spending a cent on fuel.
In addition to the expansion of the Tesla Supercharger network itself, Tesla is improving the technology behind the Tesla Supercharger to dramatically decrease the amount of time it takes to charge Model S, cutting charging time in half relative to early trials of the system. The new technology, which is in beta test mode now and will be fully rolled out to customers this summer, will allow Model S to be charged at 120 kW, replenishing three hours of driving in just over 20 minutes.
Tesla Motors' (NASDAQ: TSLA) goal is to accelerate the world's transition to electric mobility with a full range of increasingly affordable electric cars. California-based Tesla designs and manufactures EVs, as well as EV powertrain components for partners such as Toyota and Daimler. Tesla has delivered more than 10,000 electric vehicles to customers in 31 countries.
Certain statements in this press release, including statements regarding future Tesla Supercharger locations, timing and capabilities, are "forward-looking statements" that are subject to risks and uncertainties. These forward-looking statements are based on management's current expectations, and as a result of certain risks and uncertainties, actual results may differ materially from those projected. Various important factors could cause actual results to differ materially from those in the forward-looking statements, including potential difficulties in finding suitable Tesla Supercharger sites, negotiating leases or obtaining required permits for such locations, as well as the risks and uncertainties identified under the sections captioned "Risk Factors" and "Management's Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results Of Operations" in Tesla's Form 10-Q filed on May 10, 2013. Tesla disclaims any obligation to update information contained in these forward-looking statements.