Tag archives for charging stations
The Tesla Model S is on another cross country road trip. It’s not being driven by a Tesla team, like last year – this time it’s a long, winding tour for old friends Peter, Luba and Tina, making their way from Portland, OR, to New York. It’s been a sightseeing drive – as of day six, they’d only made it to Albuquerque from Oregon and still had a couple thousand miles to cover. Thankfully, they’re writing up their journey, so we can ride along with words.
The Model S was picked up by Peter three years and 273 days after his deposit was placed. Jared, the Tesla store manager in Portland, walked him through delivery of the new car, which was given the name “Sunrise” by the road trip crew. Even though Peter is an engineer who’s done a lot of homework on the Model S, Jared was able to teach him a few things.
An hour after picking up Sunrise, Peter drove to the airport and picked up Tina. The initial trip plan was changed on the spot, as they decided to spend some time enjoying the sunshine of Portland, along with breaking in the new car and verifying charging stations.
On day two, heading out of Portland to San Francisco, they tested out charging networks. On a ChargePoint station in Forest Park, just south of Portland, they got an error message after swiping the card, informing them to call ChargePoint. The charging station customer service rep quickly got back to them and fixed the problem – an incorrect zip code was initially entered.
In Corvallis, OR, they pulled into a local RV park, where Peter decided to test out his custom designed electric vehicle service equipment (EVSE) multi-input unit. It was his first time plugging the EVSE into a Model S, so he took it slow. He was more than pleased to see it working right away, and was able to charge at 50 amps and 240 volts.
Stopping at the Tesla factory in Fremont, CA, was almost like Charlie Bucket exploring Willie Wonka’s chocolate factory for the road trip team. Far from being a car enthusiast like Peter, Tina found herself fascinated by the size, scope, organization, teamwork and technology at plant building the Model S. As a group, they were fully entranced for about 30 minutes as they witnessed the assembly line in action.
Luba joined her friends on day five of the road trip, in the Los Angeles area, where they visited a Tesla supercharger in Hawthorne, CA, for a quick charging “top off.” Peter ended up having a fascinating conversation with Larry, a navy pilot who flew F14s and who’d also graduated from University of Maryland and owned a Model S. It was so fascinating, Peter didn’t realize until about 40 minutes later that their Model S wasn’t even charging at all. Oops! Oh, well – they’ve still got a lot of miles to drive, things to see and lots of chances to learn something new every day about Sunrise.
By Jon LeSage
Tesla just launched its network of “Superchargers,” speeding up one of the most important aspects of its EVs, but it might not be what you think.
“Tesla’s Supercharger network is a game changer for electric vehicles, providing long distance travel that has a level of convenience equivalent to gasoline cars for all practical purposes,” Tesla CEO Elon Musk Said. “However, by making electric long distance travel at no cost, an impossibility for gasoline cars, Tesla is demonstrating just how fundamentally better electric transport can be.”
Where the term “Supercharger” would conventionally refer to a belt-driven device that crams air into an engine, the Tesla Supercharger crams electricity into the car’s battery pack at a greatly accelerated rate. While it doesn’t make the car any more powerful, the system is
capable of replenishing enough power to carry the car for three hours at 60 mph in 30 minutes.
Tesla constructed the units in secret before revealing their locations scattered across California and reaching to Las Vegas and Lake Tahoe. The automaker worked in conjunction with California’s Solar City to power its charging stations through solar panels, making them capable of offering Tesla owners charging at not cost.
“We are giving Model S the ability to drive almost anywhere for free on pure sunlight,” Musk said.
Each of the charging stations is designed to absorb just over the amount of power consumed by Tesla vehicles over the course of a year, adding a small percentage of energy into the grid.
The days of free public charging for electric vehicles may soon be coming to an end, despite there being a lot of it out there right now, whether solar powered or as an incentive deal when buying the EV. Plug In Car’s European correspondent Laurent Masson, though, is looking ahead and is making the argument that free electricity will actually hinder growth of charging networks. Instead, he writes, utilities and charging station providers need to become more like *shudder* oil companies.
With a small number of EVs on the road, free public charging at restaurants or hotels is a perk for attracting customers, and the corded parking spots are not costing the property owner that much. It would be totally different if there were millions of EVs out there roaming for electrons.
For example, Tesla Motors is offering Model S owners free fast charging at its Supercharger network. Masson says that Tesla could be giving away $5,000 of free electricity per Model S based on rates in the area he lives, if it drove 100,000 miles solely on Supercharger power (not a likely scenario). Masson assumes the Model S would consume 300 watt hours per mile, which would make for 30,000 kilowatt hours after 100,000 miles. If a lot of the Model S electric car get sold, how long can Tesla afford to give away electricity? How long can anyone? The answer is that sooner or later, there needs to be sales and profit involved, somehow, Masson argues.
So, more private investors are needed to expand public charging networks as EV sales numbers grow. Pat Romano, CEO of EV-charging station maker Coulomb Technologies, said that EV owners are willing to pay somewhere around $1 an hour for charging, and think that $2 an hour is “expensive.” In the US, most EVs are charged for a rate of about 3.3 kilowatts per hour, and that much energy usually costs about 50 cents. The days of free charging are coming to an end, but so far, EV owners expect to see the fee stay at a low level.
By Jon LeSage