2013 Tesla Model S Long-Term Road Test

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2013 Tesla Model S: Wall Connector Finally Arrives

May 6, 2013

2013 Tesla Model S

Our Tesla "High Power Wall Connector" has finally arrived. The HPWC, as the Tesla forum members call it, is a $1,500 option that allows the Model S to be charged at 62 miles of range per hour at 240 volts and 100 amps. This is the fastest you can get without having to trek down to a Tesla Supercharger location. For reference, the 240V Charge Point station we have at the office charges the Model S at 18 miles of range per hour at 30 amps.

We're glad that the HPWC arrived, but it took just over two months from when we took delivery of the car to make its way to us. In fact, we weren't even sure when it would show up.

We took delivery of the car on February 19. About a week later, I called Tesla customer service to ask about the HPWC. A customer service representative told us that it would arrive on March 31. That was a Sunday, so I figured it would arrive by the first of April. It didn't.

A few days later, I called Tesla customer service again. The Tesla rep didn't know anything about our charger's status. "They send them out from the factory and we don't get any information on them," said the rep. I asked for a tracking number, or anything else that would let me know that this thing was on the way. I didn't get one.

This thread on the Tesla forums was far more helpful. I learned that the HPWCs were on back order, that they were being shipped from the factory based on customers' build order and that a few people who took delivery of their cars in late October were getting their units delivered in early February.

If the HPWCs were shipping from the factory, shouldn't ours have been waiting in the trunk when we took delivery?

Ours didn't take as long as the early Model S owners, but two months and four days is still a long time for such an important component. Tesla eventually shipped it via FedEx ground with a tracking number and everything. It would've been nice to have that tracking information when the unit was shipped. Guess we missed the memo.

We're lucky enough to have a charger at the office, but what if we were a new Tesla owner and this was our first electric vehicle? Plugging it into a 120V plug is hardly doable, since it only charges the car at 3 miles of range per hour. Even if we were a loyal Tesla customer upgrading from a Roadster, the plug has changed, so we'd still have to rely on the HPWC. We could do what some other Tesla owners in the L.A. area do: get charged up at the Tesla Supercharger in Hawthorne, where Tesla has its design studio. But that's not meant as a long-term substitute for convenient home charging.

The temporary in-home solution is to call Solar City, Tesla's recommended charging equipment installer, and have the company put in a NEMA 6-50 outlet and 50 amp circuit breaker. I also gleaned this information from the Tesla forums.

"If you make your contract with Solar City, and your HPWC is not yet available, they will install a temporary 6-50 plug until the HPWC shows up at no additional charge," said Ceilidh, a Tesla forum member.

This leaves your garage about halfway ready for the HPWC and lets you plug in your car at 240V in the meantime. When the HPWC eventually arrives, the 50 amp circuit breaker will be replaced with a new breaker with up to 100 amps -- if your home can support the extra draw.

We never received a call from Solar City. There was no business card or flyer in the HPWC box. Tesla's Web site mentions that Solar City is the recommended installer, but doesn't give the number to call or offer a link to the company's site. I Googled "Solar City" and found the phone number on the company's official Web site.

We'll be giving Solar City a call soon and let you know how the installation goes.

Ronald Montoya, Consumer Advice Editor @ 3,722 miles

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