Tesla Motors Unveils Supercharger Network

EV maker seeks to eliminate range-anxiety completely.

Tesla S
The problems with electric vehicles go beyond high prices and basically boil down to two significant issues: restricted range and long charging intervals. For commuters, an electric vehicle is an ideal option, but for everyone else EVs can be a major inconvenience. If you travel more than 70 miles with most vehicles you’ve hit the end of your range — that isn’t acceptable if your trip takes you two hours or more away from your starting point.

Supercharger Network

Tesla Motors does not produce cars that give short-term range anxiety. Its Tesla S sedan has a standard range of 160 miles when outfitted with its standard 40 kWh battery system to as much as 300 miles with an extended-range 85 kWh performance system. Those numbers are far and away much better than what other companies are offering, but Tesla wants to make long-range driving a possibility through its recently announced supercharger network.

That network was announced by Tesla this past Thursday and includes six of what the company promises will eventually be more than 100 quick charging stations that will located throughout California and in parts of Nevada and Arizona.

Solar Power System

The electricity for each supercharger station is garnered from a solar carport system provided by SolarCity, an arrangement that will allow Tesla owners to enjoy free, long distance travel without restrictions. Each solar power system will produce more solar power throughout the year than what Tesla owners will use, with the excess electricity sent back to the electrical power grid. These superchargers can complement the solar-powered systems that electric car owners may have installed in their homes, enabling Tesla owners to enjoy a power boost and send unused electricity to the grid.

The first six supercharger stations will be the model for additional stations located in the southwest U.S. and later across the continent. Tesla says it will install more stations to allow drivers to travel from Vancouver to San Diego, from Montreal to Miami and even coast to coast from Los Angeles to New York. The company will also begin installing superchargers in Europe in Asia beginning in the second half of 2013.

Extended Range

Tesla says that it supercharger is “substantially more powerful than any charging technology to date” as it offers nearly 100 kilowatts of power to the Tesla S, with a reach of 120 kWh at some future date. What this means is that Tesla S drivers can get three hours of driving at 60 mph in about 30 minutes, which is generally the time drivers will spend getting a meal before returning to the road.

Said Elon Musk, Tesla Motors co-founder and CEO, “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. However, 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 Model S the ability to drive almost anywhere for free on pure sunlight.”

Range-Extended Driving

In effective, Tesla raises the bar for pure electric driving, one that other manufacturers will need to follow if they’re to offer range-extended driving. The EV market is still quite small and likely will not rise without further innovations. On the recharging side, Tesla is showing leadership and is removing one more problem associated with electric vehicles in the process.

See AlsoTesla Motors Opens First North Carolina Supercharger Station

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