Tesla Supercharger Network, 2015

Tesla Motors revolutionizes the electric car with the Supercharger network

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The Tesla Model S is already an amazing electric car, but it became extremely more valuable with today's unveiling of the Supercharger network which will allow coast-to-coast trips with an electric car, powered for free from sunlight.

Calling it a historic moment, Elon Musk, Chairman and CEO of Tesla Motors, unveiled plans for the Supercharger network. As expected it is a network of charging stations that will be installed across the U.S. integrated with solar panels, but what wasn't expected is the cost. Free. As Musk said during the presentation, if you pack your food and stay with friends, you will be able to drive from LA to New York and leave your wallet at home because you won't spend any money. To take a long distance road trip, in an electric car, paying nothing for fuel, and your fuel is sunlight, is going to completely change the conceptualization of electric vehicles. Has Tesla Motors completely upstaged the whole of the automobile industry?

One marvels at the audacity of this plan, and wonders how the company can possibly pull this off. But first, let's go over what was revealed.

The system shown will be installed at highway restaurants all across the country, and eventually across the world. Each installation consists of at least two parts: a) a sleek looking solar carport, b) supercharger equipment. There's also a large pylon, festooned with Tesla logos, for which we wish Tesla had chosen a different shape (cough, cough). If anything in the presentation resembled alien spacecraft landing at rest stops, the pylon is it. Musk said the supercharger equipment could handle 100 kilowatt charging rate today, and perhaps 120 kilowatts in the future. Tesla Model S's were shown parking underneath the car port, plugged into the superchargers, and charging at a very rapid rate. (about 20 miles of range within 15 minutes)

This system is largely what I predicted earlier, based on hints Musk gave during a shareholders meeting in June.

According to Tesla, the Model S's equipped with the Supercharger will charge at a rate of 150 miles of driving range per half hour of charging, allowing a full recharge within an hour. This means the Model S is the first all electric car that can be used for a proper American road trip.

This is not a plan that will be implemented some time in a mystical future when all the planets align correctly. Tesla has already begun installing the network, in secret. There are six locations currently, Barstow, Folsom, Gilroy, Harris Ranch, Los Angeles, and Tejon Ranch, most or all of which are locations of the existing "Tesla Chargers". This is the second time Tesla and Solar City have set up a charging station network, a few years ago the two companies teamed up to build a charging network for Tesla Roadsters in California.


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This isn't revolutionary, it's evolutionary: Today's electric cars can go 50-70 miles on a 30 minute charge. Revolutionary would be the announcement of a new technology for cheaply installing solar powered inductive charging along every road in the country. Still, I'm glad that Elon Musk and Tesla Motors are pushing the edge of electric automobile technology well into the future.
Once you combine a vehicle with a 300 mile range, 3 times more then the rest of the pack, with charging at twice the rate anyone else has managed I think the model S definitely has earned the title revolutionary.