Tesla's Supercharger Network Is a Game Changer

As if Tesla hasn't received enough accolades, the company has been recently recognized again -- this time for its rapidly expanding charging infrastructure.

Jan 10, 2014 at 12:49PM

At least that's what the panelists of AOL Auto's "Technology of the Year" award said. The technology "ran away with votes for the award, clearly surpassing all of the other contenders." It would be tough to argue otherwise; the rapidly expanding network of electric-car charging stations for Tesla's (NASDAQ:TSLA) vehicles is purposed to upend an antiquated industry. Tesla's mission is "to accelerate the advent of sustainable transport by brining compelling mass market electric cars to market as soon as possible" -- and its rapid expansion of its charging network shows just how seriously it's taking this mission.

Superior charging
Tesla's Superchargers aren't like the typical charging station. Despite the impressive EPA-rated range of 265 miles for the Model S, Superchargers will juice the vehicle to a 50% charge in just 20 minutes, or 80% in 40 minutes. They're roughly 16 times faster than the typical public charging station.

Tesla's innovation in its Supercharger network, however, goes beyond a fast charge. The company is piloting battery swapping at some of its Supercharger stations. The technology allows owners to swap out their used battery for a fully charged battery in less than 90 seconds -- all without getting out of the vehicle. Notably, Tesla may charge some owners a nominal fee for the swap, and they will eventually have to return for their original battery.

The expansion
But the network is of very little help if a station isn't located within driving range.

"There's simply no way the average consumer is going to consider putting an electric vehicle in their garage if there's no way to refuel it on the go," managing editor of Autoblog Jeremy Korzeniewski told AOL.

But acknowledging Tesla's expansion that's already under way, Korzeniewski admitted, "If Tesla is able to continue rolling out long stretches of Superchargers, EVs will finally have the level playing ground that they need in order to have a chance at succeeding."

Indeed, Tesla is rapidly rolling out its network. In fact, a cross-country drive is already nearly feasible based on this open-source map that's tracking the U.S. expansion of Tesla's charging stations.

Supercharger Network

Red circles indicate completed Superchargers; cones indicate Superchargers under construction. The circles inscribed around the Superchargers shows the 265-mile range. Source: teslawiki.net.

Just how rapidly is Tesla expanding this network? At some point in 2015, Tesla plans to have Supercharger locations serving 98% of the U.S. population. Even in 2014, Tesla plans to have 80% of the U.S. population covered.

But the expansion goes beyond the U.S. Its Norway expansion is already complete, and Tesla is expanding rapidly in Germany, where it plans to have 100% coverage by the end of 2014. Tesla also expects to have 100% coverage by the end of 2014 in Netherlands, Switzerland, Belgium, Austria, Denmark, and Luxembourg. It expects to have 90% of the population covered in England, Wales, and Sweden in 2014, too.

Changing the industry
Though there are plenty of critics betting against Tesla's planned attempt to launch an affordable electric car that can sell hundreds of thousands of units per year, the company is building charging stations as if it is certain that it will play a major role in the auto market in the future. The charging infrastructure will be in place before 2016 or 2017, the estimated time that Tesla has planned for the launch for its affordable electric car.

Tesla's aggressiveness in its global expansion plans should comfort shareholders. Trading at about 10 times sales, the company is going to need major growth to grow into its valuation. And a rapidly growing Supercharging network is laying the foundation for that potential growth.

AOL is right; the network changes the game. AOL Auto's mulimedia director, Adam Morath, sums the technology up eloquently: "With the Supercharger, Tesla is tackling the tired arguments against the electrification of the automobile head on by addressing range, charge times, charger accessibility and clean energy production (the Supercharger is powered by solar energy, not coal) all in one stroke."

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Fool contributor Daniel Sparks owns shares of Tesla Motors. The Motley Fool recommends Tesla Motors. The Motley Fool owns shares of Tesla Motors. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

4 in 5 Americans Are Ignoring Buffett's Warning

Don't be one of them.

Jun 12, 2015 at 5:01PM

Admitting fear is difficult.

So you can imagine how shocked I was to find out Warren Buffett recently told a select number of investors about the cutting-edge technology that's keeping him awake at night.

This past May, The Motley Fool sent 8 of its best stock analysts to Omaha, Nebraska to attend the Berkshire Hathaway annual shareholder meeting. CEO Warren Buffett and Vice Chairman Charlie Munger fielded questions for nearly 6 hours.
The catch was: Attendees weren't allowed to record any of it. No audio. No video. 

Our team of analysts wrote down every single word Buffett and Munger uttered. Over 16,000 words. But only two words stood out to me as I read the detailed transcript of the event: "Real threat."

That's how Buffett responded when asked about this emerging market that is already expected to be worth more than $2 trillion in the U.S. alone. Google has already put some of its best engineers behind the technology powering this trend. 

The amazing thing is, while Buffett may be nervous, the rest of us can invest in this new industry BEFORE the old money realizes what hit them.

KPMG advises we're "on the cusp of revolutionary change" coming much "sooner than you think."

Even one legendary MIT professor had to recant his position that the technology was "beyond the capability of computer science." (He recently confessed to The Wall Street Journal that he's now a believer and amazed "how quickly this technology caught on.")

Yet according to one J.D. Power and Associates survey, only 1 in 5 Americans are even interested in this technology, much less ready to invest in it. Needless to say, you haven't missed your window of opportunity. 

Think about how many amazing technologies you've watched soar to new heights while you kick yourself thinking, "I knew about that technology before everyone was talking about it, but I just sat on my hands." 

Don't let that happen again. This time, it should be your family telling you, "I can't believe you knew about and invested in that technology so early on."

That's why I hope you take just a few minutes to access the exclusive research our team of analysts has put together on this industry and the one stock positioned to capitalize on this major shift.

Click here to learn about this incredible technology before Buffett stops being scared and starts buying!

David Hanson owns shares of Berkshire Hathaway and American Express. The Motley Fool recommends and owns shares of Berkshire Hathaway, Google, and Coca-Cola.We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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