2016 Tesla Model X: Destination Charging is a Thing
by Dan Edmunds, Director of Vehicle Testing on September 19, 2016
Cross-country travel in a car like our 2016 Tesla Model X is possible and practical because of the Supercharger network. And today's network is even stronger than it was two years ago, when we drove our 2013 Model S to New York and back in less than a week. As of today, the fansite supercharge.info says there are 296 active Supercharger stations spread across the USA, with 15 more under construction and 13 others that have received permits.
But Tesla's free charging network has another component. It's called Destination Charging, and it's not as well-known.
Destination Charging spots use the same High Power Wall Connector (HPWC) hardware we installed in our long-term garage, which means they're nowhere near as fast as a Supercharger. Destination chargers are essentially Level 2 power supplies, but with Tesla's proprietary socket design that is not compatible with other EVs. Depending on the power situation at the specific location — between 208 and 240 volts at 40 to 50 amps — they typically add range at something like 25 to 30 miles per hour.
And so refilling an empty Tesla battery at one of these is the work of hours, not minutes. The things they have in common with Superchargers are these: the locations are programmed into the on-board navigation database, and when you get to one you simply park, plug in and pay nothing.
You're most likely to see one in an upscale restaurant district or shopping center. Others are strategically located to facilitate side-trips off the Supercharger network to touristy locales. You know, destinations — places where longer charge times are no big deal.
I don't know the precise details of the arrangement, but Tesla will help set up a Destination Charging station and pin the location to the onboard network map if the proprietor can spare a couple of parking places.
One of them recently showed up behind the hair place I use. It's in a historic downtown area, and several hip restaurants share the same parking lot. Thing is, this place is in high demand during business hours and into the evening, and nearly every time I cruise by I see non-electric cars in at least one of the two spaces. It's hard to blame them. More often than not I'm the Muggle in the gas-eater prowling that lot looking for a spot.
Last week I was driving the X on the way to an eye appointment a short block away. One of the spots happened to be open, so I pounced. I was gone a little over an hour and a half, and in that time the charger lifted the battery from 186 to 224 miles, which counts as full because our P90D Model X was set to Normal range mode.
Dan Edmunds, Director of Vehicle Testing @ 8,083 miles