The Tesla Supercharger network is a system of 480-volt DC fast-charging stations built by American vehicle manufacturer Tesla Inc. to allow longer journeys for their all-electric manufactured vehicles (Model S, 3 and X), through quick charging of the vehicle's battery packs.
Tesla began building the network in 2012. As of December 2017[update], there were 1,045 stations globally, with 7,496 chargers. The Supercharger is a proprietary direct current (DC) technology that provides up to 120 kW of power per car (depending on circumstances), giving the 90 kWh Model S an additional 170 miles (270 km) of range in about 30 minutes charge and a full charge in around 75 minutes. A software update provided in 2015 to all Tesla cars uses demand information from each Supercharger station to plan the fastest route, if charging will be necessary to reach the destination.
Tesla has taken several measures to discourage drivers from using Superchargers for longer than necessary. In December 2016, Tesla started fining owners who remain plugged into a Supercharger after the car is fully charged. A year later, Tesla banned commercial, ride-sharing, taxicab, or government vehicles from using Superchargers. Additionally, owners of vehicles purchased after January 15, 2017, were given an annual limit of 400 kWh (about 1,000 miles or 1,600 km) of free charging "credit" before they have to pay for charging.
As of April 2017[update], Tesla plans to expand from approximately 9,000 destination charging stations to 15,000 during 2017, in advance of the Model 3 rollout which they expect to put significant additional demand for use of the facilities.
Tesla supercharging stations charge with up to 145 kW of power distributed between two cars with a maximum of 120 kW per car. They take about 20 minutes to charge to 50%, 40 minutes to charge to 80%, and 75 minutes to 100%. The charging stations provide high-power direct-current (DC) charging power directly to the battery, bypassing the internal charging power supply. The next version of Supercharging is expected to charge with more than 350 kW.
A few of the Tesla supercharging stations use solar panels to offset energy use and provide shade. In the next few years after 2016, Tesla plans to install additional solar power generation at superchargers. For Model S and X vehicles ordered through January 2017, the cost for using the superchargers for the life of the car is covered with the purchase of the car. As of January 2017, the network is exclusive to Model S and Model X. Supercharging hardware is standard on Model S vehicles equipped with a battery of 70 kWh or greater, and optional (with a one-time payment of US$2,000) on Model S vehicles equipped with a 60 kWh battery. The Roadster is not equipped to charge from the Superchargers, but all future Tesla cars will include the ability. In May 2017, Tesla announced that existing Tesla owners can give free Supercharging to up to five friends if they use their referral code, and all existing Tesla owners who purchase a new Model S or Model X will receive free Supercharging on those cars.
On the European market Tesla uses for its cars and Superchargers a slightly modified form of the standardized IEC 62196 Type 2 connector. This results in a serious incompatibility with imported US Tesla cars. As of 2017, Tesla is the only automaker which offers based on the IEC 62196-2 specification the charging with direct current (DC). The specification IEC 62196-3 Combined Charging System (CCS) is favored as a multivendor direct current charging standard.
Tesla has indicated on multiple occasions that they were interested in having discussions with other auto manufacturers about sharing the Supercharger network, however no agreements have been completed or made public to date.
Tesla Supercharger stations allow Tesla vehicles to be fast-charged at the network within an hour. In October 2014, there were 119 standard Tesla Supercharger stations operating in the United States, 76 in Europe, and 26 in Asia. On 31 March 2016, Tesla CEO Elon Musk announced that the number of Supercharger stations would be doubled (from 613 stations with 3,628 chargers) by 2017. As of November 2017[update], Tesla operates 7,320 superchargers in 1,063 stations worldwide; these included 443 stations in the U.S., 31 in Canada, 6 in Mexico, 353 in Europe, and 230 in the Asia/Pacific region.
The number of Supercharger stations grew to 280 by the end of 2014; 584 by the end of 2015; 623 as of April 2016; and about 875 expected by the end of 2016. By December 2017, there were 1,045 Supercharger Locations worldwide. By December 2014, two stations were solar powered. A solar-assisted Supercharger was opened in Belgium in 2017.
The average amount of Teslas per Supercharger was 34 in 2016. Cost estimates range from US$100,000 in 2013 to US$270,000 in 2015, depending on circumstances. Tesla estimates that stations last 12 years. Most charging occurs at home or work, a situation that Tesla has compared to cell phone charging. As of 2014[update], less than 10% of charging came from superchargers.
Most Superchargers are owned by Tesla, but some are owned by fleet operators to charge their Tesla cars, such as taxis. These chargers are limited to 60 kW. In December 2017, Tesla changed its terms of service so that any vehicles being used as taxis or for commercial, ride-share, or government purposes were effectively banned from using superchargers. This ban only applies to vehicles bought after December 15, 2017. Other charging options would be provided for these vehicles.
Supercharging is free for all Model S and Model X cars that were ordered before January 15, 2017 or for vehicles that were purchased using a referral code. Model S and Model X cars that were ordered after January 15, 2017, are limited to free 400 kWh (about 1,000 miles or 1,600 km) per year. Beyond that, supercharging will have a fee, but at a lower price than filling up a gas-powered car. Since December 16, 2016, any car that remains connected to a Supercharger after being fully charged is fined US$0.40 per minute. This fee is waived if the car is removed in five minutes. Any incurred fees could be paid at the next service visit.
There were eight initial Supercharger stations around the United States, located at strategic points on the Boston-to-Washington and Los Angeles-to-San Francisco highway corridors. By mid-July 2013, 15 were open across the United States, with the number expected to nearly double by the end of the summer. The stations were developed and mass constructed in cooperation with Black & Veatch. Supercharging stations were available in Canada along the Highway 401 corridor between Toronto and Montreal by 2014.
The initial network was built in high-traffic corridors across North America, followed by networks in Europe and Asia in the second half of 2013. The first Supercharger corridor in the US opened with free access in October 2012. This corridor included six stations placed along routes connecting San Francisco, Lake Tahoe, Los Angeles, and Las Vegas. A second corridor was opened in December 2012 along the Northeast megalopolis, connecting Washington, DC, Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York City and Boston; it includes three stations in highway rest areas, one in Delaware and two adjacent ones in Connecticut. At some stations, the electricity is paid by a local business to attract customers.
The electricity used by the Supercharger (277V L-N of a 480Y/277V 3-phase configuration) in the West Coast corridor comes partly from a solar carport system[clarification needed] provided by SolarCity. Eventually, all Supercharger stations are to be supplied by solar power. According to Musk, "...we expect all of the United States to be covered by the end of next year ". He also said that Tesla owners' use of the network would be free forever.
As of August 2017[update] North Dakota, Alaska, and Hawaii are the few remaining states without Superchargers. Supercharging stations are planned to be opened later in 2017 in North Dakota and Hawaii, but there are no current plans to add one in Alaska. In September 2017, Tesla started adopting a new strategy of installing "Urban Superchargers" in the centers of major cities in anticipation of the mass production of the Tesla Model 3. The first Urban Supercharger stations were a 10-unit charger in Chicago and an 8-unit charger in Boston.
In early 2015, the first European supercharger to be upgraded with a 'solar canopy' (a carport with solar cells on the roof) in Køge, Denmark. According to the person responsible for Tesla's superchargers in the Nordic countries, Christian Marcus, the 12-stall supercharger in Køge has 300 m2 solar cells with a projected annual production of about 40 MWh and is or will be equipped with its own battery bank for temporary storage of excess production. Unlike other European Supercharger stations, Tesla has bought the land on which the Køge supercharger stands. On April 26, 2016, Kostomłoty became the first charger to open in Poland. There are a few privately operated Supercharger stations such as the one opened on April 27, 2016, in Zarechye, Russia, with 3 stalls and also one in Jordan.
By 2016, the European supercharger network is planned to allow a Model S to drive from the North Cape in Norway to Istanbul or Lisbon. As of October 2017[update], the supercharger closest to Istanbul is the one in Vrgorac (Croatia), and the ones nearest to Lisbon are Madrid and Tordesillas. The map of current and planned sites includes every European Union country except Malta and Cyprus, and represents all of the countries in the world in the top 10 of electric vehicle adoption rates (excepting, Iceland at #2).
As of June 2015[update], Hong Kong has the highest density of Tesla superchargers in the world, with eight stations with a total of 54 supercharger stalls, allowing most Model S owners to have a supercharger within 20 minutes' drive. Other Superchargers can also be found in Australia, the People's Republic of China, Japan, Macau, New Zealand, South Korea, and Taiwan.
In 2016, Advertising Standards Authority (United Kingdom) ruled that Tesla Superchargers are the highest power chargers available in the UK, turning down a complaint by Ecotricity. Although the Superchargers are technically capable of 145 kW, Tesla cars restrict the power to 120 kW. The Chinese GB/T standard has a maximum of 180 kW, but no cars can receive that.
A "Tesla station" was a planned second version of the supercharger that, as of 2013, was announced would be provided by Tesla to support owners of Tesla automobiles with extremely-fast battery pack swaps as well fast-recharge charging station services for the Tesla Model S and Model X electric vehicle battery packs. In the event, the company's plans changed and battery swapping is no longer a significant part of Tesla's charging infrastructure plans.
By December 2014, 18 months after the announcement, no battery swapping stations had yet opened to the public. That same month, the company announced a revision to their much-delayed plans. A single battery-swap station would be opened in California as a pilot project, where only invited Model S owners could do battery swaps by appointment, to assess technical and economic aspects of the service. Demand for the priced service—which was expected to take three minutes (instead of the 90-second time demonstrated in 2013)—would be used to determine whether the company would fully commercialize battery swapping stations more generally. The original plan in the June 2013 company announcement explicitly indicated that the company would eventually upgrade all existing Tesla Supercharger stations to become Tesla stations, which would offer the battery-pack swap for the Model S in addition to the fast recharge capability that each facility initially opened with. By June 2015, the company had indicated that battery swapping capabilities was no longer a significant part of Tesla's plans for on-road energy replacement for their vehicles.
In June 2013, Tesla announced the goal to deploy a battery swapping station in each of its existing supercharging stations, now to be renamed Tesla stations. At an event at Tesla's design studio in Los Angeles, CEO Elon Musk demonstrated a battery swap operation with the Tesla Model S, which took just over 90 seconds each for the two cars participating in the demo. The swapping operation took less than half the time needed to refill a gasoline-powered car used for comparison purposes during the event. The Tesla Model S was designed from the beginning to support fast battery swapping, with Tesla publicly discussing the capability as early as March 2009.
By December 2014, no battery-swapping stations had been opened to the public. On 19 December, Tesla announced revised plans. They would now build only a single battery-swapping station, and institute a "Battery Swap Pilot Program" at that selected station in Harris Ranch, California in order to "assess demand." Only invited Model S owners would be able to participate in the pilot battery swaps. The company stated they would "evaluate relative demand from customers ... to assess whether it merits the engineering resources and investment necessary" for the upgrade of additional first-generation Supercharger stations.
In June 2015, Tesla announced that of 200 invitations sent out to try the pilot pack swap station, only approximately five tried it. Tesla then invited all California Model S owners to try it out, but expected a low usage rate. A survey showed that most users were not interested.
The first Tesla Station with battery-swapping capability was planned to be piloted in California late in 2013, but this was subsequently delayed. Elon Musk said at an event in February 2014 that a few battery swap stations will open in the next few months along the route between Los Angeles and San Francisco, and that the initial stations will be studied before deciding to build any more. In mid-2013 each swapping station was projected to cost US$500,000 and have approximately 50 batteries available without requiring reservations.
Elon Musk said the battery swapping service would be offered for the price of about 15 US gallons (57 l; 12 imp gal) of gasoline at the current local rate, around US$60 to US$80 at June 2013 prices. Owners may pick up their own battery pack fully charged on the return trip for no extra payment. Tesla will also offer the option to keep the pack received on the swap and pay the price difference if the battery received is newer; or to receive the original pack back from Tesla for a transport fee. The billing will be handled via customer credit card on file with Tesla. Pricing had not been determined as of June 2013[update].
The California Air Resources Board staff considered modifying the Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV) regulation to exclude battery swapping as a "fast refueling" technology; this change would deny Tesla some of the ZEV credits that the manufacturer might otherwise receive when the battery-swapping station is placed in service in California. After criticism from several motoring manufacturers, this proposal was withdrawn.
Tesla announced a higher-capacity "Megacharger" along with the unveiling of a prototype for its Tesla Semi in November 2017. The Tesla Megacharger Network would be for use with these trucks. These solar-powered Megacharger Network stations would charge the semi trucks with 400 miles (645 km) of charge in 30 minutes, out of the total capacity of 500 miles (805 km) in the battery pack. To accomplish this, it will likely have an output level over one megawatt.
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