Tesla unveils Supercharger stations for Model S electric cars

By on September 25, 2012, 2:00 PM

Tesla Motors has unveiled a network of high-speed electric car recharging stations known as Superchargers. The company built six of these new booths around middle and southern California in secrecy ahead of the launch with plans to install stations throughout California next year.

Superchargers draw power from solar technology captured by SolarCity, a company that just happens to be owned by Tesla CEO Elon Musk. A 30-minute recharge from a Supercharger will out 100 kilowatts for Model S vehicles which equates to about three hours of driving time at 60mph. Musk said future versions could go as high as 120 kilowatts meaning less waiting time while you recharge.

The plan is to have recharging stations along high traffic corridors across the US and even into Canada within two years. Within four or five years, the company plans to have stations blanket virtually all of the US and the lower part of Canada. Superchargers will also be coming to Europe and Asia in the second half of 2013, Musk said.

The solar cells are actually able to generate more power than the cars use while driving – pretty impressive. The good news doesn’t stop there, however, as all Model S owners will be able to top off their batteries for free at any Supercharger station anytime they want. As Musk said, you’re not going to get that with gasoline.

Do you own an electric vehicle or would you be tempted to get one once Tesla rolls out their Supercharger stations across the country?




User Comments: 26

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Littleczr Littleczr said:

Wow, very nice. The problem is I can't afford it, 100k for the model s with 270 mile range but I can't afford it with my security job. Maybe when I graduate, until then I hope they release one in the 20k range.

ikesmasher said:

Its nice to see someone attempting to work an ideal electric car system out.

Burty117 Burty117, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

The thing is though, the battery needs replacing after 5 years or so and then they charge thousands for the replacement, I still think its madness.

Vrmithrax Vrmithrax, TechSpot Paladin, said:

It's a good thing their cars are so expensive, or they'd have some issues... Can't imagine the charging wait queue with a 30 minute charging duration as it is.

davislane1 davislane1 said:

Nice to see Tesla really getting behind their product. If successful, these stations could really boost sales for the Model S. Still, though, they need to find a way to pull the price down. Once you get into the $100k range gas mileage (or the lack thereof, in this case) starts to take a back seat to performance and driving experience. I don't see them being able to compete with MB, BMW, and others in that respect. For that price, CLS63 AMG > Tesla all day. If they can bring it into the $50k-$75k range, though, they would sell like wild fire. Should be interesting to see how this works out.

TomSEA TomSEA, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

I have a buddy who has put a deposit down on one and we went for a test drive about a month ago. Unbelievably beautiful cars that live up to every billing. Just an incredible piece of engineering. But as people have pointed out - pricey as hell. Even if you discount not paying for gas over a 5 year span of the car, you're still looking at a $50-60k purchase depending on what options you get.

Vrmithrax Vrmithrax, TechSpot Paladin, said:

According to the Tesla website, the new Model S variants coming out this fall start at 50k (50k, 60k, 70k base models, 85-100k for signature/performance models). After the $7500 tax credit, of course.

H3llion H3llion, TechSpot Paladin, said:

The thing is though, the battery needs replacing after 5 years or so and then they charge thousands for the replacement, I still think its madness.

Its similar with Compute tech. Development costs have to be covered and research funded. That said I am sure they could drop the price and still maintain "healthy" profits.

Darth Shiv Darth Shiv said:

The thing is though, the battery needs replacing after 5 years or so and then they charge thousands for the replacement, I still think its madness.

Battery prices will go down with high scale adoption...

H3llion H3llion, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Battery Swap Stations similar to Gas Stations = Extended Range

I believe systems are being designed already to implement this.

Vrmithrax Vrmithrax, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Battery Swap Stations similar to Gas Stations = Extended Range

I believe systems are being designed already to implement this.

Better Place has been pushing this concept for years. They are in full scale testing in Israel, I believe, and have some cabs in Japan running on their system, complete with the automated battery swap stations. Clever concept, the company (Better Place) owns the batteries and infrastructure, charges a fairly low (compared to gasoline) subscription fee, and you get charging station access and free battery swaps any time. Plus, the cars are very cheap up front, built to use the modular battery.

Benny26 Benny26, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Sit around for 30 minutes while your car charges? That's still bonkers.

Electric still has a mountain to climb for practicality.

dennis777 dennis777 said:

I wish they could just created a swappable battery station rather than a charging station...

yes I know their batteries are big... but a 30minute wait for a 3 hour drive? anyway this is for showing off you have money and not practicality.

benken2202001 said:

If the charging station is at a highway reststop, then its feesable to guess that people could eat lunch while charging their car.

H3llion H3llion, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Sit around for 30 minutes while your car charges? That's still bonkers.

Electric still has a mountain to climb for practicality.

I think within this decade we will have more then 50% of the World on Electric Cars, it will happen. Right now its obviously not efficient in terms of distance/recharge (or fuel/distance ratio I guess) but the more interest there is for a transition the faster the development will be. Its all about money and the incentive ^^

davislane1 davislane1 said:

I think within this decade we will have more then 50% of the World on Electric Cars, it will happen. Right now its obviously not efficient in terms of distance/recharge (or fuel/distance ratio I guess) but the more interest there is for a transition the faster the development will be. Its all about money and the incentive ^^

50% is a mighty big number. I think 10%-20% is more likely what we'll see. EVs are great tech on paper, but large-scale adoption faces many more problems than just short-run efficiency for consumers. Large scale adoption would necessarily run up average energy prices as well as the cars themselves facing safety and maintenance problems, not all of which can be engineered away. Those issues will create difficulty generating revenue, creating the money/incentive problem you mentioned. Barring a ground-breaking development in EV or battery tech, combustion will be difficult to dethrone over the next 20-30 years (assuming different fuel sources down the road).

Darth Shiv Darth Shiv said:

The fast charge stations will get better over time. They can pump in massive amperages if they can only supply it quick enough. The fast charge stations need some sort of high capacity short term storage where it can store up the charge required to charge cars in a quick manor without requiring massive grid infrastructure.

davislane1 davislane1 said:

Some extra reading on Tesla's Supercharger: [link]

QuaZulu QuaZulu said:

Another barrier to overcome...and some of you have alluded to it...is the battery technology. These rechargeables require rare earth metals. They're called "rare" for a reason and the vast majority the resources that have been found right now come from China. Unless this is changed (rare metal requirement) I don't see high production - high adaptability - resultant lower costs.

IvanAwfulitch IvanAwfulitch said:

The future is hydrogen fuel cell technology. I don't care how eco-friendly you purport yourself to be, or how eco-friendly you think a solar-powered power station to charge batteries is-- none of it will work as practically as hydrogen fuel cells.

James May said it best: "One day, we will, sadly, run out of oil, and then we'll need something else. Now, electric cars have always seemed very promising, but as long as they're powered by batteries, they don't quite cut it. I mean, think of all the people down there--driving around. We've built our lives around the car as we know it. You get in, you drive as far as you want to go, you fill up, you drive some more; that is the freedom that a petrol powered car gives you. If its replacement is something that goes for ten yards and then takes four hours to bring back to life, we'll have gone backwards. The (Honda) Clarity though, is different. It fits the life we already have. The reason it's the car of the future is because it's just like the car of today."

The environmentally damaging effects caused by manufacturing electric cars and batteries, and where (most often) their power will come from, do far more damage in the long-run than even a diesel car. Electric cars can become quite good, there is no denying that... but they are fundamentally flawed from the beginning. They will never be as good as a hydrogen fuel cell car can be.

I admire the progress made with electric cars, but I will never buy one. My big purchase will be the next iteration of the Honda Clarity.

peas said:

The future is hydrogen fuel cell technology. I don't care how eco-friendly you purport yourself to be, or how eco-friendly you think a solar-powered power station to charge batteries is-- none of it will work as practically as hydrogen fuel cells.

James May said it best: "One day, we will, sadly, run out of oil, and then we'll need something else. Now, electric cars have always seemed very promising, but as long as they're powered by batteries, they don't quite cut it. I mean, think of all the people down there--driving around. We've built our lives around the car as we know it. You get in, you drive as far as you want to go, you fill up, you drive some more; that is the freedom that a petrol powered car gives you. If its replacement is something that goes for ten yards and then takes four hours to bring back to life, we'll have gone backwards. The (Honda) Clarity though, is different. It fits the life we already have. The reason it's the car of the future is because it's just like the car of today."

The environmentally damaging effects caused by manufacturing electric cars and batteries, and where (most often) their power will come from, do far more damage in the long-run than even a diesel car. Electric cars can become quite good, there is no denying that... but they are fundamentally flawed from the beginning. They will never be as good as a hydrogen fuel cell car can be.

I admire the progress made with electric cars, but I will never buy one. My big purchase will be the next iteration of the Honda Clarity.

I wish the tinfoil hatters would quit with technology they don't understand. Hydrogen isn't a fuel, you can't mine it like oil, coal, or any other dino-fuel. It's an energy carrier that serves the same purpose as chemical batteries - a temporary store of energy that's generated by something else. People complain about lithium being rare but forget that fuel cells require even more expensive rare earth metals such as platinum. Technology will change that eventually, however there's still the thorny issue of how to produce hydrogen. The easiest large-scale way to do so is through electrolysis which is less efficient than recharging chemical batteries. Then there's the problem of infrastructure - where are you going to "fuel up" with hydrogen or whatever solution it's immersed in? With BEVs the infrastructure is relatively straightforward: install a receptacle connected to the grid. With hydrogen fuel cells, you'd need not only a connection to the grid for electricity, water is necessary plus likely a fancy concoction of chemicals to dissolve the hydrogen in so it won't easily explode (aka Hindenburg).

Someday fuel cells may be competitive but it will likely be many years. By then chemical batteries may have advanced to equal or better fuel cells.

TJGeezer said:

Battery Swap Stations similar to Gas Stations = Extended Range

I believe systems are being designed already to implement this.

You're thinking of Shai Agassi - he's building battery exchange stations in Israel, where they're eager to get off petroleum for obvious political/military reasons, and in Australia in the corridor between Sydney and Melbourne, IIRC. He says battrey recharging while on the road makes no sense economically and is based on treating electricity as a form of gasoline. Says batteries are not gas tanks. Instead, just drive in, exchange the battery, drive out in two or three minutes, faster than pumping gas, the company retains and maintains the batteries as assets, and the cost of the car drops way down. He makes a good case.

[link]

Guest said:

Love the free solar energy. Charging up at home will be enough for most people. wish I still lived in north America and I could support this great product. Does anyone know how this could work in china where people all live in high rises so there may be no place to set up a home charger? How to get free charging into your car from your apartment bilding? Making stations wont work as the line ups would be huge. If they can solve that problem then they could really take the china and japan markets to dominate the world. Of course they will need a car in the middle class bracket. The electric cars in china are far behind this car.

Burty117 Burty117, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

Just like to mention that they have come out with an official report to say Electric Cars are, well crap:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-19830232

Guest said:

"The future is hydrogen fuel cell technology. I don't care how eco-friendly you purport yourself to be, or how eco-friendly you think a solar-powered power station to charge batteries is-- none of it will work as practically as hydrogen fuel cells."

even the hydrogen is the most abundant chemical substance around us, to produce/acquire hydrogen, we need to decompose water to hydrogen and oxygen with electric current, this method is called electrolysis, and we need electricity.. and most of our powerplant are still using fossil fuel..

and with the current technology now, producing hydrogen fuel cell is still far expensive and it will be likely many years ahead using hydrogen fuel cell to our daily lives

Guest said:

"The environmentally damaging effects caused by manufacturing electric cars and batteries, and where (most often) their power will come from, do far more damage in the long-run than even a diesel car. Electric cars can become quite good, there is no denying that... but they are fundamentally flawed from the beginning. They will never be as good as a hydrogen fuel cell car can be"

..what? LoL, hydrogen fuel cell is still electric car!! what do you learn at highschool before? and to produce hydrogen fuel cell we still need very-very huge amount of electricity..

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