Tesla Supercharger Network To Provide Free Solar Power To Model S Drivers


Say what you will regarding Elon Musk’s electric car company Tesla Motors, but there is no denying that the man and his company have a flair for the dramatic. So it was in typically Tesla form that the new “supercharging” network was revealed last night to much fanfare and house music (I assume, as I wasn’t there, but I can’t imagine there NOT being fanfare or house music). In a nutshell, the new Superchargers will provide clean, free, and fast charging for drivers of the Tesla Model S up and down the West Coast.

In fact, Tesla says that the first six charging stations have already been built in secret. These six stations using a solar-powered carport provided by SolarCity to generate more energy than Tesla estimates Model S drivers will need in a year of driving. Telsa insists that these Superchargers will always generate more power than is needed, resulting in the extra energy going back into the grid.

But the biggest hurdle Tesla had to overcome was charging time, and according to them they’ve done it. The 85 kWh battery of the Tesla Model S can be fully charged in about an hour from a Supercharger, while 30 minutes of charging will provide 3 hours of driving. That is not a bad tradeoff at all. The first six stations are all clustered around SoCal, but Tesla’s ambitious expansion plans mean more stations will go up within a year.

I can’t help but be reminded of Nikola Tesla’s ambitious plan to bring free, wireless energy to all the world when I think of Tesla’s Supercharger system. For Tesla Model S owners, the supercharging system will be free to use, provided you have either the 85 kWh battery pack, or the 60 kWh  battery pack with the optional supercharging port.

By next year, Tesla wants to install Superchargers up and down the east and west coasts, and across the continental United States. Though it sounds like an impossibly ambitious plan, Tesla is setting itself up to be the de facto electric car company of choice. No other EV manufacturer is offering a network of proprietary charging stations. If this plan pans out, Tesla could end up with a monopoly on EVs and EV charging infrastructure.

So, in conclusion, Tesla is offering clean, fast, and FREE charging for their customers. That is kind of a huge deal.

I was a doubter, but it looks like Elon’s plan is really starting to come together. I wonder what Tesla has planned next?

Source: Tesla

About the Author

A writer and gearhead who loves all things automotive, from hybrids to HEMIs, can be found wrenching or writing- or else, he’s running, because he’s one of those crazy people who gets enjoyment from running insane distances.

  • Elon Musk is a wonder. 😀 Amazing job here.

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  • george

    Tesla is giving back to the purchasers of there vehicles, but not the .8 billion they have lost since inception. I went to business school and must have missed the semester of how to make yourself rich while making your company a loser.

    • george

      Oh BTW the phallic symbol, on the right side of the picture, really exemplifies the love Tesla has for there customers.

      • Rob

        Tesla has spent almost nothing on marketing, instead they are spending money which adds enormous value and utility o heir product which will increase demand and sales. That to me sounds like a very sensible business decision. I gather you are suggesting they should be making back money by charging for charges, they could make a few bucks a charge or they could absorb that cost and give their far higher profit margin cars a major selling point and sales boost.

  • stfn

    George, this symbol you talk about, it is for spreading seeds of common sense about the good of solar power, electric cars…

    that .8 billion they have lost is call seed investment, and it is only lost if you want to sell your share today, looking for quick bucks, you can’t change the mind of people overnight, it’s a long term investment.

    it will grow babies for the investors once the company has proven to the doubters that it is a viable replacement to oil powered vehicle..

    • That .8 billion is called subsides and should be paid back. I didn’t want my tax money to go to fund a business that will fail and transfer taxpayer money to allow someone to live extremely well. Should we call him “King Musk” or “Auto Czar Musk”,, your choice our money.

      • stfn

        your tax money is currently funding wars for petrol and I don’t hear you mention about that money, which is probably more than 1000’s times or even more bigger than this loan.

        I agree, a loan is a loan, and a business must pay back, just not mix VC money with govt loans. Government do this all the time, extending loans, it is better a late payment than putting people out of jobs.

  • Paul

    I agree with stfn.

    Electric cars have been permanently ridiculed in large parts of the press. Most of the arguments were wrong, but it has caused that the broader public is sceptical, to say the least. So if you want to sell electric cars and make a profit you have to do more then make a good car. You have to break through this layer of wrong perceptions. For that you need something bold and Elon Musk understands that.

    The only way to turn a profit is by volume. And for volume you need a lot of potential clients. The supercharchers are a way to wow potential clients, to definitely break through the last eternal bad publicity: that of limited range. Now, with the superchargers, a Tesla S is not only as good a driving experience as a BMW series 5 (and some say better), as fast or faster, for the same price, but you can do the same things with it, including business or holiday trips, but without polluting. And for free if you use the superchargers.

    This is publicity. This takes away the last barrier. This makes people rave about Tesla like they do about iPhones. This is what opens up the road to high volume. And therefore to profit.

    Tesla always had a long timescale philosophy. Prices of solar panels are falling fast. And Musk’s other company – SolarCity – can built the solar part of the stations at nearly cost price. And finally Tesla is itself a sophisticated battery company, so they can built the huge batteries/chargers themselves. Therefore the costs are lower then you would expect. And don’t forget the panels produce more electricity then used by the charging cars, so Tesla (or SolarCity) sells the rest into the grid. And for the early years, with few Tesla’s charging, actually most of the electricity will flow into the grid and generates some income, lowering the costs.

    The superchargers don’t eat away as much profits as one might think, while they boost the image of Tesla cars, bringing volume sales. I think Tesla’s philosophy is sustainable.

    • george

      This guy has his fingers into everything, he serves on the X-Prize board, is the owner of Space-X (a competitor in the Google Lunar X-Prize), entered a vehicle in the Automotive X-Prize ( then removed the Whitestar) while on the board of directors. Space-X is funded by NASA, a taxpayer funded entity, which in turn outsourced the US space program to (guess whose company). This is not the right way to run a business, taking taxpayers money and then selling a car that only the upper 1% can afford. This is taking the tax money from the poor and redistributing it to the wealthy, kind of reverse socialism and you are defending him. I say he should pay back the money on time instead of filing for an extension on the government loan.

      • Paul

        It is a mistake to think that Tesla’s long term intention is to built “cars only 1% can afford”. Its philosophy has been, from the start, to begin constructing electric cars for the rich (the Roadster), because there was no way to built a good first generation electric car car cheap. Then, with the knowledge gained and the publicity made, built a car that is more mainstream, costs less and in volume production (the models S and X), and with the money earned and production costs coming down, finally built a middle class car for around $ 25.000 to $ 30.000.
        This is not taking money from the poor and distributing it among the rich, it is a long term business plan to bring well built middle class electric cars to the market that people actually want, while trying to avoid the hick-ups that other brands experience that wanted to bring cheaper electric cars to the market from the start, like Mitsubishi and Nissan/Renault.

      • T Adkins

        The government loans are not a loss to the tax payer until Tesla fails, I dont see them failing I see them clearly about to make a profit and pay back those loans. You also have to realize Tesla has already gotten money far and above the amount of the Gov loans. The Gov loans allow for more risk averse investors to also take the plunge. The current problem with the Tesla is they cant make and deliver the cars fast enough. 15,000 cars are on a wait list, the wait list is $5000 to be on, the cheapest model S is $50,000 after federal tax break, the $0.75Billion they are looking to bring in well some of that should shrink the 0.8Bil they are down and pay back some of those loans, and there will still be more car sales.

        As far as the X-Prize I dont think you quite understand it. They set aside some prize money and the first guy to do the task wins the cash. They used to do this all the time in 1927 Charles Lindbergh won $25,000 for being the 1st to fly from New York to Paris non-stop, earlier this year in June, Mike Ritter (MotoCzysz) achieved a 104.056 miles/hr lap speed, the first electric motorcycle racer to break the ton during a TT Week race, winning the £10,000 prize fund offered by the Isle of Man government. The Prize is to make you a bit famous and to make people compete. For the X-Prize for space Virgin spend more than 10 times the amount of the prize. NASA couldnt cut it to do space on the cheap, the space shuttle was a dated piece of hardware since before it fist went into space, but the jobs it created kept that thing going for decades, spending so much money it stopped NASA from even trying to look at alternatives. Shuttle was retired and we still need to do stuff in space. It was costing NASA a fortune to put stuff into space every pound of stuff you wanted in space was (at the time) costing you the same amount as buying a pound of gold. The X-Prize was to launch an industry of private business to do what NASA did for less.

        The Automotive X-Prize was trying to put up $10million to get a car made that was safe affordable and in real world driving attain 100MPGe. This $10 million is to help the care get to market after winning the prize, but with a company like Tesla is under by $800 million it is easy to see as helpful as $10 million is more will need to be spent.

        If we are worried about where our tax dollars are being spent, why dont we look at our military the US out spends the next 26 countries combined, 25 of these are our allies. We could cut this in half and still spend more three times as much all of them individually.

  • Aj

    This is huge! This blows away the whole transferring-the-emissions-to-power-plant argument, even though anyone with an ounce of brain would know the emissions transferred to the power plant were very low compared to a regular car.

    Go Tesla!

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  • George Voll

    The Automotive X-Prize did not do what you stated, it showed favoritism to a POS automobile that couldn’t make it through the testing that was required.

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  • Sylvia Jordan

    I agree with you. The benefits of solar power is what encouraged me in buying solar accessories australia for my home. I do hope that this Supercharger system becomes successful and implemented in a large scale.

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