Tesla Supercharger Network To Triple; Company Readies for Zombie Apocalypse


  • Tesla Supercharger Picture

    Tesla Supercharger Picture

    The Tesla Supercharger network is about to go nationwide. | May 30, 2013

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Just the Facts:
  • Tesla Motors will triple its Supercharger network by the end of June, the company said on Thursday, further easing concerns about range anxiety.
  • Tesla is also working on grid storage via solar power at its Supercharger stations.
  • "These stations will operate even if the entire national grid goes down," said Tesla CEO Elon Musk in a conference call with reporters. "Even if there is a zombie apocalypse, you'll still be able to travel through the country using the Tesla Supercharging system."

PALO ALTO, California — Tesla Motors will triple its Supercharger network by the end of June, the company said on Thursday, further easing concerns about range anxiety.

Tesla is also working on grid storage via solar power at its Supercharger stations.

"These stations will operate even if the entire national grid goes down," said Tesla CEO Elon Musk in a conference call with reporters. "Even if there is a zombie apocalypse, you'll still be able to travel through the country using the Tesla Supercharging system."

He added: "Long term, I expect all Supercharging stations to have solar and grid storage. It's a matter of time. Completion of the solar will lag the supercharger network by 12-18 months. Grid storage is six to 12 months after that. It's a rough estimate."

Tesla has two grid storage sites in operation now and the goal is to have grid storage at all stations sometime in the future.

"I'd rather not say where they are located," Musk said, when asked about the two operational stations.

He added: "They are in California. We're doing them in partnership with utilities."

With grid storage, the automaker, in effect, becomes a utility, but it is not dependent on traditional sources of energy, such as coal.

Within six months, the Tesla Supercharger network will connect most of the major metro areas in the U.S. and Canada.

"We will do whatever it takes to show they (Model S owners) have the same freedom of travel — in fact, a better one — than they do with a gasoline car," said Musk.

Ultimately, 200 Supercharging stations will be available in the U.S. and Canada, he said.

California will get 25-30 stations. The stations will be located "along popular routes" at highway rest stops. There will be about 150 miles between stations, even in relatively unpopulated areas. The company is also increasing the number of ports at stations.

A key concern about electric vehicles, such as the 2013 Tesla Model S, has been that their driving distance relies on the availability of charging stations.

"The expansion of the network will mean that Model S drivers can take the ultimate road trip — whether that's L.A. to New York, Vancouver to San Diego or Montreal to Miami — without spending a cent on fuel," said Tesla.

Use of the Tesla Supercharger network is free. But the Tesla Roadster is not able to use the Supercharger network because it lacks updated technology.

The electric start-up said it is also improving the Supercharger technology to cut the time it takes to charge the Model S.

"The new technology, which is in beta test mode now and will be fully rolled out to customers this summer, will allow (the) Model S to be charged at 120kW (versus 90 kW now), replenishing three hours of driving in just over 20 minutes," said Tesla.

At this point, other electric vehicles, such as the Nissan Leaf, are not able to use the network.

Musk said: "We're not trying to create a closed system. We need to solve the problem of long-distance travel and we can't wait for others to agree with our strategy. It will take too long. We just need to get going. Other manufacturers can either copy us or join us."

Musk said he is trying to build awareness about the capabilities and benefits of EVs and says the Supercharger network is crucial in reaching a broader audience.

"This is one of the key things to reach mainstream buyers," he said. "And we need to come up with more affordable cars. We're hoping to get there in the 3-4-year time frame."

Musk said Tesla's affordable car would take on vehicles including the Audi A4.

"We're just at the early design stages of that vehicle," he said. "It will be a little bit smaller. The Model S is a full-size car."

The Tesla announcements have been rolling out on a weekly basis. Musk said a "pretty exciting" announcement is set for June 20. He did not provide details.

Edmunds says: Elon Musk not only tackles range anxiety and freedom of travel, but zombies and the issue of affordable cars as well.

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