Elon Musk Tweets About Super Duper Tesla Supercharger


Update: This story was amended December 27 to include information about supercapacitors and flash charging systems.

In Joe Walsh’s iconic Life’s Been Good To Me So Far, he says, “So I got me an office, gold records on the wall. Just leave a message, maybe I’ll call.” That may be the best way to get in touch with a rock star, but if you want to get through to Elon Musk, Twitter is the way to go. On the day before Christmas, Musk fan Fred Lambert did just that. He was curious how Elon was coming along with those solar powered Supercharger stations he has talked about in the past. (For those of you who don’t know, The company has a policy of using solar power whenever possible to operate its Tesla Supercharger locations. If no solar power is available, it uses the greenest electricity available.) Lambert got a response to his tweet that contained more information than he expected.

Being an astute fellow, Lambert picked right up on Musk’s reference to Version 3 Tesla Supercharger technology. It’s the first anyone has heard of it. Currently, the highest power Supercharger operates at 135 kW. Car makers in Germany announced recently that they intend to create a new network of high power chargers based on the CCS standard. They will have 150 kW of power at first, but will be capable of operating at 350 kW in the future according to the CCS consortium. By the way, and don’t tell anybody. This is just between you and me. Tesla quietly joined the CCS group last spring.

So the intrepid Mr. Lambert tweeted back to Musk to ask if the reference to a Version 3 meant there might be a 350 kW Tesla Supercharger somewhere in the future. That’s when Musk let the cat out of the bag.

Wait. What? 350 kW is a “children’s toy?” Ye gods, Elon. What is going on inside that fabled head of yours. One can only hope that some day Elon will donate his famous brain to science.

When Porsche first announced it would build the Mission E electric sports car, there was some talk about it being able to recharge in 15 minutes using 800 volt chargers. Oliver Blume, Porsche’s CEO, said at the time,  “We are in contact with other manufacturers and suppliers around the world to build a fast-charging network. Everybody has the same need. It sounds easy but getting the details agreed is hard. We already have the clear technical concept. It can even work with Teslas, with an adapter.”

Blume’s words provide some insight into what is going on behind the scenes. One of the keys to electric car acceptance by the general public is agreement on standards. Right now there are three major charging standards — CHAdeMO, CCS, and Tesla Supercharger. Once there was competition between Betamax and VHS about the preferred format for bringing video content into the home. VHS won, even though the tech geeks at the time insisted Betamax was far superior. In the end, it didn’t matter. What mattered was that everyone was on the same page. That’s when the video industry exploded.

Porsche wants 800 volt chargers. Porsche is part of CCS. Tesla is part of CCS. Elon Musk is referring to 350 kW chargers as children’s toys. Do you see a connection here?

Update begins here.

Charging times will be a critical part of the transition from conventional cars to electric vehicles. Since the first modern electrics — the Nissan LEAF and the BMW i3 — came to market starting in 2010, owners of conventional cars have had two major objections to buying an electric car. First, they say the range of electric cars is too short. Second, they feel charging times are too long. With several cars now available that have more than 200 miles of range, charging time is the last great hurdle to mass adoption of electric cars.

A hint about the future of charging is taking place in Geneva, Switzerland where new city buses are in operation that flash charge along the route in as little as 15 seconds and need less than 5 minutes to fully recharge at the end of their route. The 400 kW charging system is designed and manufactured by Swedish electronics company ABB. When news of the flash charging buses first appeared at Cleantechnica, one reader suggested it is most likely a hybrid system that utilizes both supercapicitors and batteries.

Musk expressed his opinion on this subject almost 4 years ago when he told an audience at a clean technology conference in San Francisco, “If I were to make a prediction, I’d think there’s a good chance that it is not batteries, but supercapacitors,” that will be the future of electric cars. There’s a good chance that prediction is about to come true and new charging technology that is faster than anyone ever thought possible is about to make the electric car revolution complete.

Source: CleanTechnica

About the Author

I have been a car nut since the days when Rob Walker and Henry N. Manney, III graced the pages of Road & Track. Today, I use my trusty Miata for TSD rallies and occasional track days at Lime Rock and Watkins Glen. If it moves on wheels, I'm interested in it. Please follow me on Google + and Twitter.
  • Gnällgubben

    Porsche talked about 800 volt chargers, not 800 kW

    • Steve Hanley

      Oh. There are too many electrical parameters for me to wrap my addled brain around. : – (

    • Knut Erik Ballestad

      Yup, and with 800 Volts, they are able to achieve 350kW charging effect.

  • Mark Potochnik

    Everything works with an adapter…. 🙂 I try ti have any kind I can get.

  • Borlock

    The far majority of time spent charging is spent tapered to below even the current SuperCharger speed since Lithium batteries can’t be charged that fast at the top of the curve. This starts to happen at about 50% SOC.

    If you’re like me you get to a SuperCharger with about 33% left, and it gets to 50% in about 5 minutes and then it start tapering. Then you wait another 40 mins to get to ~95%.

    The only thing a 350 kW charger will do is to reduce the 5 minute part to 2 minutes. So you’ll wait 42 minutes instead of 45 overall. Mmm.

    • GreenMaster

      Something to keep in mind, as battery chemistries change it will allow for faster charging. I am extremely interested to see the specs on the new 2170 cells.

    • Ed

      I am pretty sure that even with improved battery chemistries and thermal structures, the charging curve will look pretty much the same. As the power density of batteries goes up and the costs come down, it may be possible to use a strategy in which a larger-than-rated battery is used to both assure longer warranty life and faster charging. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/3d0d6a0edebad9f7007bdd5c8c0c4a4f5f3b74b3298f36b6620b022a3d21b33c.jpg

    • Kieran Delaney

      The drop in charge rate isn’t down to Supercharger design, it’s just physics…bruh.

      The overall charge rate can be increased, theoretically, so long as the battery and associated electricals don’t overheat and combust…but you will always charge from 0-50% much faster than you can charge from 50-100%…it’s just the way it is.

  • I’m hoping/expecting something like super-capacitors to allow charging faster than Li-ion batteries. Hopefully starting in the next 3-5 years

    • Ricksanchez

      You and me both! Super-capacitors and graphene is the hot ticket going forward.

    • Kieran Delaney

      It’ll be longer than 3-5 years, of that I am entirely certain.

  • yossiS

    While faster (even ridiculously fast) charging is possible, it is certainly not without huge trade-offs. Faster charging means rapidly increasing cost per kWh. Who is going to pay the demand charge fees on that station? Maybe it will be paired with batteries to avoid demand charge? In that case, massive high C-rate batteries will be needed. They will be installed at high cost, degrade quickly and will triple the charging inefficiencies (~65% grid to battery total efficiency anyone?). This talk of 350kW as a children’s toy is a headline grabber and no more. Charging speeds will inch up gradually, incrementally, while charging convenience will stay more or less the same as more EVs utilize a more slowly growing supply of fast chargers.

    • Knut Erik Ballestad

      But that was just what Elon’s tweet stated, wasn’t it?

      ref: “@FredericLambert There are some installed already, but full rollout really needs Supercharger V3 and Powerpack V2, plus SolarCity. Pieces now in place.
      — Elon Musk (@elonmusk) December 24, 2016”

      The Powerpack v2 would effectively cap the demand fees,
      – and the “plus SolarCity” part of the tweet would allow many supercharger locations to operate independently of the grid overall – at least outside of peak periods.

      …and what makes you think that charging speed would have to “inch up” “gradually, incrementally”, when history shows us that quite the opposite is what has happened with EV charging:
      1. Early EV’s, AC at 2.2 kW
      2. Later EV’s, AC at 3.6 kW (64 % jump)
      3. Then EV’s with 7.2 kW AC and 50kW DC appeared (100% to 1388% jump)
      4. Then Tesla’s with up to 22 kW AC and 110 kW DC appeared (DC 220% jump)
      5. Gradual Tesla increases up to 135 kW (22% – and actually the only jump according to your statement)
      6. 150 to 350 kW CCS charging announced (up to 259% jump from Tesla’s 135 kw)

      – and most importantly you seems to ignore the fact that charging speed increases well beyond current 50kW Chademo/CCS and 135kW Tesla will increase the capacity (to support more vehicles) a lot on the charger locations.
      Even with 50kW effect, a 20 minute charging stop allows for one hour highway driving, while a 10 minute 135kW stop allows for 2,5-3 hours of highway driving. At 350kW, even a 5-6 minute stop allows for 2+ hours of highway driving. This means that the number of charging locations and stalls needed to support electric travel might not have to grow nearly as fast as today, since a small number of stalls will support many more vehicles.

  • PeteDisqus321

    I think 350kW charging is the logical next standard. This allows for the 2 hour drive/15 min rest pattern prescribed by most safety recommendations (with a bit to spare).

    • Knut Erik Ballestad

      That pattern is already supported by Tesla’s current charging speed.

      15 minutes at 350 kW would add 87.5 kWh to a battery pack. That should allow you to drive for 5 hours….

      • PeteDisqus321

        Tesla doesn’t charge at 350kW

        • Knut Erik Ballestad

          No, but 135 kW definitely supports the driving pattern you described.
          135 kW for 15 minutes, can add 33.75 kW, which should be enough to drive 2 hours at highway speeds.

          • PeteDisqus321

            A full 100 kWh pack gets you about 300 miles. A third of that is 100 miles. I don’t think most people consider that 2 hours driving with a bit to spare.

          • Knut Erik Ballestad

            Ok, I get it – you are talking about a *very* specific part of Europe – the German Autobahn.

            When you have no speed limits, there are also no energy usage limits, so then you would have to state your cruising speed to enable us to talk about the same thing.

            BTW, I also live in Europe, but in my country the max speed limit is 110km/h (~70 miles per hour). At a typical highway speed of 100km/h my statement stand.

  • Marc P

    With higher capacity batteries and EV’s with 200+ miles range, the ubiquitous presence of fast chargers will alleviate people’s range anxiety but won’t be used that much. Fast charging at whatever rate is fine, but apart from road trips, 90% of people 90% of the time will simply plug in their EV’s overnight and start their morning commute with a near full battery every day.

  • Gnällgubben

    People are overestimating the need for faster charging. A gas car you have to fill up at a dedicated place quite often. In that scenario it’s good that it’s relatively quick. An EV however is usually charged at home or at work or whenever it’s parked anyway for some reason. The need for quick ‘refueling’ isn’t there anymore for the vast majority of cases. The average person is going to use DC fast chargers a couple of times per year, it’s not a big deal if it takes a little longer

    • Knut Erik Ballestad

      I DC charge my 24 kWh Leaf (family’s only car – driven 22.000 miles/35.000 km a year) only ~10 times a year.
      – I charge at home, at work, at my mountain cabin and at public parking spaces – and when I need to travel more than 75/80 miles i DC charge.

      With a 60+ kWh battery I would practically never charge on a DC fast charger.

      • Steve Hanley

        Thanks for that input, Knut. Information from real EV drivers is most helpful. I would venture to say most people believe the LEAF is too range limited to fit their needs, but you prove them all wrong.

        • Knut Erik Ballestad

          My Leaf would not fit well for people that regularly drive for more than 90 minutes at a time. After that you will have to charge 20 minutes for every extra hour.

          But I do that seldom enough that I can live well with these few extra breaks along the roads. But I will definitely upgrade to a 200+ miles EV at some time, and have reserved a M3 that I will buy in about 18 months I guess – unless Nissan can deliver something exiting well before that.

          Then driving an EV will have no downside whatsoever.

  • seenmuch

    I have read this and I have to say in the N. & S. East US ~2 hours of driving only gets you a small distance @ normal US freeway travel speeds, no where near enough to get from city to city. Most normal travel distances in the US are at a minimum 4-7 hours to get from place to place in this part of US…. Most would not consider this acceptable for regional travel between cities….

  • seenmuch

    Then you look at the western US where normal travel times between cities is at a minimum 8 hours with many places requiring 10+ hours of travel to reach desired destinations…..Stopping every ~2 hours to recharge for half an hour would just not be considered reasonable for this kind of travel. The western prairie would just seem to be uncross-able for these things to most…..

  • seenmuch

    Most make these 8+ hr drives today in the western US on one fill/stop or less, until electrics can get to the point where an 8 hour + drive on one stop to recharge that can be done in similar time required to fill with gas/diesel they will continue to be nothing more than a rich person’s toy/plaything…