There's No Stopping Tesla's Electric-Charging Infrastructure

Whether you like it or not, Tesla Motors (NASDAQ: TSLA  ) is building out the charging infrastructure to support mass-market adoption of its electric vehicles.


Tesla's West Coast road trip last week. Source: Tesla Motors official Twitter account.

It begins with a 1,750-mile road trip
This Wednesday Tesla embarked on a journey from San Diego to Vancouver in two Model S sedans, powered only by Tesla Superchargers. According to Tesla's Oct. 30 press release, the drive marks the completion of supercharging the West Coast corridor that allows Model S owners to travel for free (assuming they opted to pay up front to enable the service) "between San Diego, California and Vancouver, British Columbia."

The release continues:

With stations along U.S. Highway 101 and Interstate 5, the West Coast's key routes, cities and destinations are connected by Tesla Superchargers. Model S customers can drive between San Diego, Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, San Francisco, Sacramento, Portland, Seattle, and Vancouver for free with minimal stops. More than 99 percent of Californians and 87 percent of Oregon and Washington owners are now within 200 miles of a Supercharger.

Model S charging. Source: Tesla Motors.

Tesla's expansion has seemingly taken place overnight. At the beginning of this year, Superchargers were a rare commodity -- even on the West Coast. And based on Tesla's plans, the rapid expansion won't be slowing down any time soon. According to a Tweet from Tesla CEO Elon Musk on Wednesday, the "East Coast Supercharger network should be complete in a few months." It will take Model S owners from Miami to Montreal, he told his followers on Twitter.

It appears that Tesla wasn't kidding around when they announced on May 30 that its Supercharger network would stretch across the continent within one year, covering most of the population of the U.S. and Canada. Five months into the plan, it looks as realistic as ever. By 2015, Tesla plans for its Supercharger network to reach 98% of the U.S. population. 

Tesla's planned U.S. and Canada Supercharger network for 2015. Both red and gray dots indicate planned charging stations. Source: Tesla Motors Website.

Of course the plans expand beyond the U.S., too. Already completing its network in Norway, Tesla plans to provide coverage for 100% of the population of Germany, Netherlands, Switzerland, Belgium, Austria, Denmark, and Luxembourg by the end of 2014. Plus it expects to build out its charging infrastructure for 90% of the population of England, Wales, and Sweden within the same time frame.

Notably, these charging stations are far better than most other charging stations. On average, they are 20 times faster than public charging stations; they can provide a half-charge for the 265-mile-range battery of the Model S in 20 minutes and an 80% charge in 40 minutes.

Laying the foundation for Tesla's affordable electric car?
While the infrastructure will certainly make long-distance travel for its Model S owners far easier, the aggressiveness of the expansion is likely an effort to lay down the charging network to drive sales of its more affordable car, commonly referred to as the Gen III. Tesla has said the more affordable car, to be priced at about $35,000, could launch as early as 2016.

Meanwhile, there's no stopping Tesla from taking a 1,750 mile road trip. Expect another road trip on the East Coast in a few months.
 

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Read/Post Comments (19) | Recommend This Article (2)

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  • Report this Comment On November 02, 2013, at 11:40 AM, Pakirk53 wrote:

    I find it fascinating that the cost of building maintaining and insuring these stations aren't supposed to impact the car company and of course there is the issue of doubling the carbon footprint as these are only Tesla specific

  • Report this Comment On November 02, 2013, at 12:21 PM, George53 wrote:

    It's rather disconcerting that articles like this one get published as "news" rather than advertising. Anyone with a basic understanding of chemistry and engineering knows that temperature extremes are not friendly to batteries, and that the huge majority cross country trips occur during the summer holiday season (July) and the winter holiday season (last week of November to the first week of January). Yet I don't see the reporter asking the obvious questions of "What is the range of the car when it is running the heat full blast and it's -10 degrees outside?" "How about when it's 100 degrees outside and the A/C is running continuously?" "How about when you're on I-95 or I-75 (the two most heavily traveled Interstates) and you're going up and down 6% grades through the mountains for hours on end?"

    Another point would be that my Cadillac can go about 500 miles AT 70 MPH on one tank of gas, and refueling takes about 5 minutes, and it can be done anywhere I want. Even if the charging only took an hour every 250 miles as you claim with your pie-in-the-sky estimates, that's FIVE HOURS added on to my 1,400 mile trip, which probably means another day EACH WAY, which would make the drive impractical.

    Also, I'm just curious... How long does the charging take if you are running the heater and accessory jacks in the car continuously while your kids are waiting in the 0 degree weather?

  • Report this Comment On November 02, 2013, at 1:50 PM, eepn wrote:

    Sounds like George has stock in Big Oil companies,

    George would fit well in the period of history were we went from horse carriages to vehicles as the complainer off why we should not move forward.

    Any new developing technology has its challenges over time they are resolved. For last 20 years i've worked in new technologies nothing is perfect at first, but good teams address these challenges and solve them.

    Off course any company has to market and sell to make a profit, Common sense.

  • Report this Comment On November 02, 2013, at 2:02 PM, nickeyfriedman wrote:

    Battery swap takes 90 seconds. Half the time of a gas fill.

  • Report this Comment On November 02, 2013, at 2:08 PM, NewbiesRock wrote:

    Good luck Tesla!

    Way over priced at the moment.

    They are paving the future ... but will probably fall in the process.

    Wait another 10/20 years before electrical technology takes over.

  • Report this Comment On November 02, 2013, at 2:10 PM, NewbiesRock wrote:

    @Battery swap is a very good alternative! (Renault has been considering it for a while on its E-models) But very costly and not in the Tesla designs at the moment.

  • Report this Comment On November 02, 2013, at 2:28 PM, JerryDunton wrote:

    George is living in the past...not the future. Just drive one and you will see. J

  • Report this Comment On November 02, 2013, at 2:51 PM, SpeakingSoftly wrote:

    If you plan to do a lot of long distance road trips, than George is right. A traditional gasoline powered car is the better choice. On the other hand, if 95% of your miles consist of the daily commute, running errands and local activities, then a 265 mile capable electric car is perfect! Fuel cost is equivalent to about 80 mpg. Never stop to gas up. Never change the oil. Never get the transmission serviced. Never change a belt. The Supercharging stations make the road trip possible, even if not as convenient as a gasoline powered car. If you are lucky enough to be part of a two car family, maybe make one electric and one gas powered for the time being.

  • Report this Comment On November 02, 2013, at 2:52 PM, CrazyDocAl wrote:

    This is a non issue and will be for years to come. It's a start but most people do not want to be limited to where Tesla thinks you should drive. What made a car an icon is that you could get into one and drive where you wanted. Staying within 100 miles of a charging station hardly is the freedom that any car should provide.

    That makes the Tesla a commuting car that can be used by a limited number of salesmen. For the bulk of the owners they still need their ICE. That makes the Tesla (and all EVs) a supplement to, not a replacement to, an ICE.

  • Report this Comment On November 02, 2013, at 2:57 PM, CrazyDocAl wrote:

    George, don't you get it. You don't wait in your car while it's charging. You go into the Tesla owned coffee shop and spend money.

  • Report this Comment On November 02, 2013, at 4:24 PM, deweylasv wrote:

    I think its a step in the right direction. Electric, LPG, Nitrogen, and Natural gas, will take over sooner than you think! Dodge, ford and Chevy, already offer LPG and soon Nitrogen powered trucks, that's awesome! I'll be one of the first to buy a fleet for my business. I'm also starting to see propane and electric power equipment already available an for sale at my supplier. Down side for now is that it weighs more and may be too heavy for the employees to handle for a 8-10-12 hour shift. But SOON, it'll change over the world and I can't wait to stick it to the middle east, screw them and their oil! Thank you Tesla for showing us and them (car companies)anything CAN be done if you set your mind to it!

  • Report this Comment On November 02, 2013, at 4:35 PM, Pixma25 wrote:

    George says, "my Cadillac can go about 500 miles AT 70 MPH on one tank of gas, and refueling takes about 5 minutes, and it can be done anywhere I want." Does George have a 2,000 gallon fuel tank in his garage so that he can fill up every night?

  • Report this Comment On November 02, 2013, at 4:41 PM, Pixma25 wrote:

    George asks why the author doesn't ask what the range is when running heat or a/c. George doesn't know that the Tesla website lets anyone estimate range based on a number of driving conditions such as speed, temperature and desired interior temp.

  • Report this Comment On November 02, 2013, at 8:42 PM, CATPUBES wrote:

    STOP TROLLING, GEORGE

  • Report this Comment On November 02, 2013, at 8:52 PM, George53 wrote:

    To answer the questions of the Tesla employees posing as neutral posters:

    eepn - No, I don't own any stock in any oil company, and I think the price of gas/diesel is FAR too high, but I do fail to see what either has to do with whether electric cars are a practical reality. They are not practical for a laundry list of reasons, and THAT'S the point this article deliberately avoids mentioning. Horses vs. cars is a stupid point to make, because motor vehicles have a mile long list of advantages over animals. Electric cars have none over gasoline or diesel powered cars/trucks.

    Speaking - Electric vehicles are not maintenance free. Electric motors wear out as often or more often than transmissions, and batteries need to be replaced (Teslas also have gear boxes to wear out anyway). All of the other components such as wipers, tires, cooling system, A/C, etc. wear out exactly the same on an electric car as a gas car.

    Crazy - LOL Yeah, I bet someone at Tesla hopes that as well!

    Dewey - You mean hydrogen, not nitrogen.

    Pix - No, I don't need a 2,000 gallon tank in my garage to fill up every night, because I only need to fill up once every two weeks, and there are dozens of gas stations on my way to/from work. If I had an electric, yes, I would need to remember to recharge almost every other day or I would be stuck at home. Glad you mentioned the Tesla Web site. I checked and actual range is NOT 300 miles. Their advertised range of 300 miles is reduced to 200 miles when the temperature drops to 32 and you use the heat. Their calculator is designed not to allow you to enter any speed over 65 mph (below the Interstate speed limit in most states), or to lower the temperature below 32 or over 90 degrees. Range would obviously be reduced if that were allowed. Further, according to actual owners in the Tesla forums, actual range is 220 miles MAXIMUM under IDEAL circumstances. If their advertising is off by a little over 25%, figure 150 miles between charges on a road trip. So every two hours, you'll have to stop for a one hour charge.

    One last thing that I forgot to mention earlier, which no one picked up on because everyone is so excited about the wonderful new technology and its big accomplishment of going 1,750 miles, is that the distance from San Diego to Vancouver is only 1,400 miles. Unless they got lost and drove around South Central for 350 miles on their way up the coast...

    The lesson? Be a little more skeptical and don't believe everything you read in press releases from multi-billion dollar international corporations that are desperately trying to sell you something.

  • Report this Comment On November 02, 2013, at 8:53 PM, George53 wrote:

    STOP TROLLING, ELON. Oops, I mean CATPUBES.

  • Report this Comment On November 02, 2013, at 9:43 PM, ffbj wrote:

    A practical reality? Well they are already a reality so you are just arguing that they are not practical.

    You are so far off on so many points, some of your arguments sound like retreads of things that were said years ago, and have categorically been debunked or dismissed as such exaggeration as to be unworthy of discussion. So what is left is that electric vehicles do not perform as well as gasoline vehicles in certain extreme conditions. This is correct to an extent if you blast the heater/ac, have a lead foot..etc.. you will get less mileage per unit of energy which is true.

    Although in higher altitudes, another extreme condition, combustion performs worse.

    Per unit of energy gas engines are much less efficient and have many times more moving parts, so maintenance will be higher. almost needless to mention is that just fueling the gasoline vehicles is, on average in the U.S. 3x more expensive, to say nothing, too late, of Europe where gas is about 3x as much as it is here.

    As far as road trips go if you just want to hop in and get there as quick as you can, driving for hours on end, well then take the pirus or the volt. A case where a gas powered/assisted vehicle is indeed better. With the Tesla the 300mi trip to grandmas house for Thanksgiving, with one stop on the way seems reasonable, though anything further with a time constraint then gas would be better. Though something like 95% percent of trips taken, anytime you drive your vehicle is considered a trip, are under 50 miles.

    Ev vehicles are here they both reality and are

    practical, and being made more so, as infrastructure to support them increases.

  • Report this Comment On November 03, 2013, at 7:11 PM, Ustauber wrote:

    THX TSLA

  • Report this Comment On December 11, 2013, at 4:57 PM, Zapb99 wrote:

    George compared to a gas car electric vehicles are maintence free, everyone who has even a slight clue about cars knows this.

    About the only thing you will need to worry about over the lifetime are the bearings, bushes, brakes and tires.

    GM knew this, which is why they killed the EV1.

    Electric motors are probably good for over a million miles before they need changing out. And by changing out, that means changing the bearings as they are the only moving part.

    The only maintence therefore after about 10 years will be the battery. So in 10 years time, you buy a cheaper battery that will hold more charge and in essence you've just upgraded your car for free.

    In fact these Tesla's will most likely still be on the road in 20 years time having put way more than the magic million mile figure on their clocks.

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