Tag archives for supercharger

Tesla Model S goes road tripping, drivers experience variety of charging methods

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

Chreos EV wildly overpromises with 600-mile range, 640 hp and 10-minute charging [w/video]

chreos ev silex power

Check it out: according to Silex Power, it’s a force of nature,” a “fluid form… the pinnacle of technological innovation. It’s the epitome of elegance and luxury, a synopsis of the superior class… the most technologically vehicle ever conceived. It’s the dawn of a new era in electric mobility – the Chreos.

Yes, the Chreos boasts 640 horsepower and 4,400 Nm (about 3,245 in pound-foot) of torque. The Chreos can reach 300 kilometers per hour (about 186 miles per hour) and goes zero to 100 km/h (about 62 mph) in under 2.9 seconds. Oh, and a car this fast leaves range anxiety in the dust: it can go 1,000 kilometers on a single charge – that’s about 621 miles. One last thing: the Chreos has the Tesla Model S and its Supercharger beat hands down since it can fullly charge in less than 10 minutes using its HyperCharge Technology!


There must be a catch in there somewhere. Oh yeah, it isn’t here yet. It’s a concept vehicle being designed by Silex Power, which has worked for a few years in the renewable energy and sustainable development markets. According to a company source, it will take about three years to make it to production. There’s a video below offering a rendered look at the concept car.

By Jon LeSage

Superchargers will only work on Model S (for now) and every future Tesla EV

tesla supercharger

There were a lot of details left out of the late-night unveiling of the Tesla Supercharger network earlier this week. Sure, Tesla CEO Elon Musk explained the big picture, saying the Supercharger network is “the answer to the three major problems holding back electric vehicles.” Those problems? Long-distance EV driving, the “long tailpipe” argument and how much it costs to produce electricity. But how big of an impact can your fancy charging station have if it only works with a small fraction of the EVs on the market?

“The reason Supercharging is available only for Model S and not others (including Roadster) is that Model S was developed with Supercharging in mind.”

Right now, the Superchargers can only charge up a Model S, despite the fact that these stations will be built at the perfect locations to offer Level 2 or DC fast charge options for other plug-in vehicles as well. Tesla spokesperson Christina Ra tells AutoblogGreen that non-Tesla options do not exist today, but they are “being considered, as always.” That said, Ra confirmed that every future Tesla vehicle will be Supercharger compatible. So, Model X and next-gen Roadster drivers, don’t worry.

We asked if there has been any discussion of licensing the Supercharger technology to other OEMs (Daimler and Toyota would be the most obvious potential partners, since Tesla is already providing battery packs for some of their EVs). Ra said, “The reason Supercharging is available only for Model S and not others (including Roadster) is that Model S was developed with Supercharging in mind, so the capabilities are built into the battery and hardware. Time could definitely resolve compatibility.”

Each Supercharger station costs around $250,000 to install and can charge – for free, remember – either four or six cars at a time. Since Tesla plans to build 100 in the next three to four years, the total cost will be around $20-$30 million. The six chargers that have already been built in secret in California (in Barstow, Hawthorne, Lebec, Coalinga, Gilroy and Folsom) are all operational now, but not yet open to the public. Ra said Tesla needs to get government approval to open them, and that will come “soon.”

Currently, there are only two Supercharger stations that have batteries (to store solar energy, we assume), the ones in Lebec and Barstow. The plan is to install batteries at all Superchargers, though, as well as make them all solar-powered. “The vision is absolutely solar-powered,” Ra tells AutoblogGreen. “Not all will be in the immediate future, but that is the plan.”

Related GalleryTesla Supercharger

tesla supercharger stationTesla Superchargertelsa model s superchargingtesla supercharger station map 2015Tesla Supercharger initial locations map

By Sebastian Blanco

In deep with Tesla CEO Elon Musk: Financials, Falcon doors and finding faults in the Model S

tesla ceo elon musk

Tesla Motors Elon Musk spends about half his working life – i.e., almost all of his waking hours – in his office at SpaceX in Los Angeles. The automotive CEO is, after all, also in charge of the rocket company, which means that he’s thinking about a lot more than just ramping up production of the Model S. But he is thinking about that a lot, too. More than you might expect.

AutoblogGreen recently got to sit down with Musk at SpaceX for a one-on-one, wide-ranging interview. Musk, comfortable and relaxed in an “Occupy Mars” t-shirt, was forthcoming about most things we asked – but questions about Tesla’s upcoming Supercharger network of fast chargers, which can deliver so much more juice per minute than any other plug-in vehicle charger on the market, were deflected, since the company is planning a big announcement at the end of this month or early October – and we got into Tesla’s financial situation, why the Model X has those falcon doors and how Daimler saved Tesla. We learned a lot, including that Musk really doesn’t like the rear seat access in the Audi Q7. Not one bit.

Read the whole interview below.

ABG: What’s the biggest thing on your mind right now, with the Model S. George [Blankenship] wrote the post about 100 vehicles being produced, 74 for customers. Is that at the forefront or are you already looking at what you’re going to do next?

Every Model S needs to be exactly right, and I am literally personally looking at every car at this point.

Musk: Certainly, there’s a little bit on the back burner with Model X and a few other things, but the company’s central focus is on scaling up production of the Model S while trying to keep quality as perfect as possible, really trying to have every car that goes out the door be perfect. None of this, “J.D. Power found 80 defects” bullshit. Every car needs to be exactly right, and I am literally personally looking at every car at this point. I won’t be able to do that long-term, but the cars are held up for shipment twice a week and usually on Tuesday or Wednesday I will look at every singe car and drive one or two at random and then on Saturday I’ll do the same thing.

ABG: What does that process entail? Visual inspection, turning them on?

Musk: There is a visual inspection of the inside and outside, looking at fits and interior finish and often sitting inside and making sure that everything is put together correctly. Obviously, the software is always going to be the same, so I’m not trying to see if there’s any variation there. And then, as I said, I pick cars at random to drive and make sure that the driving feel is correct and the sound system is working as it should and if there’s an issue, I’ll trace it back to the exact place on the line where that occurred. For example, yesterday I found that the installation of the headlamp was not quite correct and there was a slight asymmetry between the right and the left. I think most people wouldn’t see it, but it seemed pretty obvious to me. So I was like, this doesn’t seem right, this is off by like three millimeters. So I literally walked over to the lead tech on that portion of the line to find out why is this three millimeters wrong and it turned out he was still operating with the part dimensions of the old part, but we had made a new part that didn’t require shimming and nobody had given him the new instructions that it no longer needed shimming to get to the right position. And that was the origin of the problem. On Saturday, I will talk to the whole assembly, metal stamping and plastics team to make sure that everybody understands that they are all empowered to be perfectionists on the line and that they should not let a car move from their station if they see anything that is slightly wrong. They must reverse the line and send it back to the prior station.

ABG: You’re talking to them on Saturday. Are they working seven days a week?

If you can go work for another company and then maybe you can work a 40-hour work week. But if you work for Tesla, the minimum is really a 50-hour week.

Musk: Right now we’re working six days a week. Some people are working seven days a week – I do – but for a lot of people, working seven days a week is not sustainable. The factory is operational seven days a week but most people we only ask to work six days a week right now and, obviously, we want to get that to a more reasonable number. I think people can sustain a 50-hour work week. I think that’s a good work week. If you’re joining Tesla, you’re joining a company to work hard. We’re not trying to sell you a bill of goods. If you can go work for another company and then maybe you can work a 40-hour work week. But if you work for Tesla, the minimum is really a 50-hour week and there are times when it’ll be 60- to 80-hour weeks. If somebody is hourly, they receive time-and-a-half but if somebody is salary, then we do cash and stock bonuses for going above and beyond the call of duty. So we try to make it fair compensation, but the general understanding is that if you’re at Tesla, you’re choosing to be at the equivalent of Special Forces. There’s the regular Army, and that’s fine, but if you are working at Tesla, you’re choosing to step up your game. And that has pluses and minuses. It’s cool to be Special Forces, but it also means you’re working your ass off. It’s not for everyone.

ABG: When you start building more and more Model S vehicles and hiring more people, will all of the factory staff be expected to step up?

Musk: Everyone. So we will only scale to the degree that we can hire people who are willing to do that. We’re getting quite big, though. We’re at almost 3,000 people, 2,800 or something.

ABG: Roughly how many – in percentage or raw numbers – Model S vehicles do you send back?

Musk: The issue is that we need to improve the communication update frequency. That person would have learned it, but he learned it maybe two days later and we would have had to fix a bunch more headlamps. He’s a really good guy, and I was actually really impressed with his knowledge, he had it right down to the millimeter, but he just had the wrong instructions. So, the talk on Saturday is going to be: “Guys, don’t follow instructions if they don’t seem right. It doesn’t matter how junior you are, if you just came out of school and are 22 years old. Whatever. If you’re looking at something that doesn’t seem right, it doesn’t matter if you got those instructions from the vice president or from fricking me or whatever. You should say, hey, this doesn’t seem right and this is why. If you’re right, you’re right and it’s not about the position of the person, it’s about the truth of the argument.

ABG: Going back to the number of cars, do you have a number if how many you’ve noticed?

I find things wrong in almost every car.

Musk: I find things in almost every car.

ABG: Are they all worth sending back?

Musk: Yeah, absolutely.

ABG: So, pretty much every car you look at you send back?

Musk: I have corrections. (laughs) In the beginning, we have to be slightly imperfect because we don’t have everything completely dialed but our aspiration is to get to cars that are accurate to the limit of reasonable physics. What I’ve told my teams is that we want our cars to be so accurate you could use them as a calibration device. So, if I want to know how long is a meter, oh, don’t worry, I can go measure the car.

We’re going to be ordering some laser calibration devices so we can literally calibrate the entire dimensions of the car within tenths of a millimeter. If it’s wrong, let’s trace it to the origin and fix it. This is very extreme for the car business, but for the rocket business this is not, so from my standpoint, when people say you can’t do that, it’s like, “I do that every day. What are you talking about? I know it’s possible.” We’re trying to take the precision of rockets, where fractions of a millimeter can mean the difference between success and failure. We’re applying rocket science to the car business, absolutely. If you want to make the best car, that’s what you have to do.

ABG: Since you’re so involved with the Model S at this stage, will it be hard to let go, as more and more cars get built?

Musk: As our rate steps up, it won’t be possible for me to inspect every car, so then what I’ll be doing is picking cars at random and inspecting those and then, if the sample group is sufficient and I’m not seeing any issues, then that means the most likely thing is the greater population is good, but [my involvement] is most important in the beginning because once we get instructions correct and the feedback loops in the system correct, then I think that pretty soon I won’t be able to find issues.

2012 Tesla Model S - front three-quarter dynamic motion shot

ABG: Have you had cars come back from customers, where you noticed a mistake and then realized that that problem had been sent out to someone and you wanted to replace it?

Musk: No. Our customers are more forgiving thus far than I am. They all think it’s really great.

ABG: With all of this effort spent, I think legitimately, put into each of the early Model S vehicles, the time and money spent per vehicle is very high at this point –

Musk: It is, of course.

ABG: Do you have an idea of how long it will take for the Model S to become profitable? How many you’ll need to make? Do you even expect to make money on the first generation?

There’s no question that we have to make money on the Model S.

Musk: Absolutely. There’s no question that we have to make money on the Model S. We made money on the Roadster, as a product line by itself. We did actually reasonably well. I’m not sure what the lifetime gross margin is, but somewhere between 25 and 30 percent, which is quite good for the car business. If the Roadster was the only thing we did, then we could have achieved profitability, but we would be a much smaller company. The issue with going to the Model S is we’re going from around 700 cars a year to 20,000 cars a year. It takes a better person than me to remain profitable if you’re going to improve your volume by 30. That’s 3,000 percent. There is a pretty massive investment required. We definitely need to make money. We need to repay the government loan. In fact, my goal is to repay that loan early. I actually feel pretty confident that we will be able to repay the loan early and I take that really seriously because, essentially, the U.S. people, through their intermediaries in Congress, has been kind enough to loan Tesla money and it is our absolute duty to repay that as soon as possible.

ABG: As you’re well aware, that’s definitely a hot political topic right now, the money that the government spent on advanced technologies.

One of the requirements of the ATVMP loan was that you demonstrate viability as a company. That’s why General Motors and Chrysler were not eligible. I think there’s a slight question about why Fisker was given the money, but whatever.

Musk: I don’t regard this as a political thing. I just think that we have an obligation to do right by them. People have made it a political thing, yes. I want to take the opportunity to clarify the nature of the loan, which a lot of people confuse with the bailouts, because they were occurring at approximately the same time. But, in fact, one of the requirements of the ATVMP [Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing Loan Program] loan was that you demonstrate viability as a company in your own right, and that’s why General Motors and Chrysler were not eligible because they were going through bankruptcy. I think there’s a slight question about why Fisker was given the money, but whatever. (laughs) The value of the money was really as a catalyst. The DOE money did not, as many people think, save Tesla. That’s not what occurred. The credit for saving Tesla should go to Daimler. It was the Daimler investment that saved Tesla in early 2009. We didn’t get any DOE money until almost a year later. Around March 2010 was the first time we got DOE money, and the DOE money was specifically for Model S-related activity and moreover, had to be audited by [Price Waterhouse Cooper] and then we have to submit audited statements after having paid people. It’s not like we could pay money in advance. We had to pay suppliers and then get an invoice and then PWC would check that the invoice was correct and applied only to the Model S program and then we would get reimbursed, so there was a three-month gap between when money was spent and we would get reimbursed for it. So it was impossible to consider it a bailout for Tesla. If we’d needed money to be bailed out the Roadster, we’ve have been screwed.

tesla daimler deal

ABG: That leads to my next question, which is that especially start-ups, but every company walks that line on the edge of bankruptcy at certain times.

Musk: 2007 and 2008 were especially bad for us.

ABG: So that’s the question, how close was that? Without Daimler, it probably would have stopped?

There were a couple of near-death situations. One is where I had to basically take all of my personal reserve capital in 2008 and invest that in Tesla. I literally had to borrow money for rent.

Musk: Extremely close. There were a couple of near-death situations. One is where I had to basically take all of my personal reserve capital in 2008 and invest that in Tesla. I literally had to borrow money for rent. And that’s a whole saga that eventually should be told. It was a difficult thing that was made more difficult by one of our investors who was just an absolute bastard, nobody should ever take money from them. So I was totally tapped out. That was enough to get us through the second half of 2008 and into early 2009 and then, thankfully, Daimler, with whom we had a small deal to produce battery packs for the Smart [ED] actually invested $50 million into Tesla in the nick of time. It wasn’t some huge altruistic gesture, but nonetheless, they had to have faith that their $50 million wouldn’t go down the drain.

ABG: At that time, did they know how in trouble Tesla was?

Musk: Yes. They had total access to our financials, sure.

ABG: Even with that they said this was worth it because they liked the technology?

Musk: Yeah. There was the potential to get an investment from another car company – not Toyota – but I don’t know if they would have actually followed through or not, but they did express interest. I think Daimler was maybe aware of that. Either way, they put $50 million into Tesla at a time when they themselves were cash strapped. Dieter Zetsche had to go to Abu Dhabi and raise emergency cash for Daimler and then reserve $50 million for Tesla. When someone is hungry themselves and they give you a bit of food, you’ve got to be grateful for that.

ABG: What would you say is Tesla’s financial situation now?

Musk: I actually think Tesla is in a pretty good position. In principle, if we raise no further funding, Tesla should be able to reach cash-flow breakeven, so that’s kind of where we are right not. It’s a public company, so you can see our financials. We’ve got a couple hundred million dollars. If we make a bunch of screw-ups, then we’ll be in trouble, but if we execute reasonably well, then we’ll be in good shape. As I mentioned in the last earnings call, we are considering doing a small financing round just to improve the cash cushion, just in case bad things happen, but hopefully that’s money we’ll never use. We might go something like that, but it’s not yet approved by the board.

ABG: You’ve talked about the Karma, both today and recently in very clear statements and you can see how things can spiral out of control.

Musk: It’s a bit ridiculous, because my opinion of Fisker and the Karma has not changed in the last two years. It’s been exactly the same thing. Automobile just asked me for my opinion, it’s not like I was volunteering it or sort of intentionally lobbing stones. If I’m asked a question, I try to give an honest account of how I feel. But a lot of people in the media treated it as if I, of my own accord, launched some missile at Fisker. It was part of a longer interview. This is really not news. This is an opinion that I’ve expressed in the past, but I guess there were a lot of people who were not aware.

ABG: Plus it’s August…

It’s a slow news day when Bloomberg reports that Tesla opened a service center in San Rafael. I mean, c’mon.

Musk: It’s a slow news day when Bloomberg reports that Tesla opened a service center in San Rafael. I mean, c’mon. It was on Google and Yahoo Finance that we were opening a service center in San Rafael. We’re opening twenty.

ABG: Speaking of the media, so far, everything about the Model S, from the media who got to drive it at the launch to customers, has been entirely positive –

Musk: 99 percent positive.

ABG: Yeah. But the overwhelming message is that this is a great car, so wouldn’t there be a great incentive to try to get even more people into the car?

Musk: Yeah, and we just did 5,000 test drives. That’s pretty significant. But there is a shortage of cars. We need to provide cars to all of our stores for customer test drives, then we need cars for service, cars for endurance and quality and then we need to deliver cars to customers who have been waiting for a long time. So we just don’t have a lot of cars to lend for days on end. We will do that, increasingly in the coming months. This is not in any way trying to hold back. We’re trying to make each car as perfect as possible. Since each car is literally like 98 percent new. Usually, when people say it’s the all-new blah-blah-blah, whatever car, that’s bullshit. 40 percent of that car, if not 60 percent of that car, if coming from some parts bin. In our case, two percent is coming from the parts bin. There are some Mercedes components, like the steering column and the light switches and some of the internal bits but, literally, 98 percent is totally new, the components are in nothing else on earth. So, of the 98 percent new stuff, 90 percent of those components, no problem, we can scale up to high-volume immediately. Five of those are slightly problematic. Two percent are problematic and one percent are really problematic and causing us headaches. Putting it all together and making sure you assemble this incredibly complex puzzle in the right way, is tricky.

ABG: What are some of the parts on that one or two percent list?

Musk: Well, I don’t want to get suppliers mad at me, but some of them are some pretty big name suppliers and you think, “How the heck can this big-name supplier not get their shit together?” and I call the CEO and he’s like, “I promise I’ll get my shit together,” and I’m like, “Your shit is not together.” It’s quite vexing. In some cases, we’ve got some small suppliers where they’re going their absolute best but we’re asking them to do things they’ve never done before. One example is the bright molding around the window of the Model S. We have a continuous arc all the way to the back. It’s really big. It goes all the way from the A pillar all the way across to the C pillar and then under. It’s this huge, single piece part. If we did it like other manufacturers, we’d have seams, and seams suck and I was unwilling to have seams. So it was quite tricky to make that whole thing as one piece and then ship it and not have any warping or damage and then put it on in the right way. It’s awesome, because it’s the best bright molding of any car. Go and look at the bright molding on a BMW or something and you’re like, “that sucks.” So that’s pretty hard to make this huge continuous piece and not just have some crap that is usually done. Normal suppliers couldn’t do it, so we went to a specialty supplier and we worked with them to figure out how to get us a special weld in there and they are really doing a good job and they’re good guys, but it’s just tricky to scale that up. Everyone else just takes the easy path and has gaps in their bright molding.

ABG: You mentioned Mercedes. There was also talk about the B-Class E-Cell. We haven’t heard much about that? What’s the status of that program?

The B-Class E-Cell is not a marketing or a demonstration program. It is a serious, high-volume program.

Musk: Tesla policy is, when we’re supplying powertrains, we take a back seat on PR. It’s about our customer in that case, so it’s really up to Mercedes and Daimler how they want to portray things and what announcements they want to make, whether they even want to talk about our stuff or not. We’re just trying to be helpful to the electrification of cars and it’s whatever our customer wants in that case. We never want to be out in front of our customer since it’s really, fundamentally, their car. I can repeat the stuff that they’ve said, which is that it’s a big program, it’s not a marketing or a demonstration program. It is a serious, high-volume program.

ABG: I know it’s bigger than the Smart ED program.

Musk: By an order of magnitude.

ABG: How about work on future projects. I know Model S is the focus, but what about the Model X and the pickup truck? And we also have the next-gen roadster?

Musk: (laughs) I think we definitely want to avoid talking about distant products too much. In the case of the Model X, the reason why we unveiled that relatively early was just to show that Tesla is not going to be a one-trick pony but, in general, we’re going to make product announcements a lot closer to product introduction.

ABG: I haven’t seen that car and those doors in action, but the intent is still to bring them into production?

Musk: Oh, yeah, absolutely. You should see it. It’s a double-hinged gull wing – falcon door, whatever, it literaly looks like a bird of prey when the doors are open, it looks like a falcon in a dive – and the reason that works, while a regular gull wing doesn’t work, is because in a regular gullwing we’d have the problem that the arc goes out too far and then too far up. But if you double-hinge it, it does this (makes a motion with his hands, similar to the video here). If you can physically fit between the next car and the Model X, like maybe a foot-and-a-half, you can open the door. In fact, you can open the door in tighter spaces than a minivan door, because a minivan door, when it opens, it’s going to come out and slide. If you’re trying to come at if from the back, you can’t get in. You have to go past the door and then press the button and, if anyone is behind you, they can’t get in.

ABG: Who’s idea was the door? Was it Franz [von Holzhausen, Model S chief designer] or was it an older idea that was never used or is it a Tesla original?

This is a problem I’ve had with all SUVs. You can’t get to the damn third row. The Audi Q7 is particularly horrendous. Even in the best case scenario, you need to be dwarf mountain climber to get into the back seat.

Musk: The desire to have that kind of door opening is coming from me because it’s important to frame the problem correctly. The problem is, how do you have a door that opens in tight spaces and is also able to access the third row without changing the seat back position of the second row. This is important because if you have a baby seat in the second row, you can’t get to the third row. This is a problem I’ve had with all SUVs. You can’t get to the damn third row. The Audi Q7 is particularly horrendous. Even in the best case scenario, you need to be dwarf mountain climber to get into the back seat. It’s ridiculous. It’s the most comically ridiculous third row I’ve ever seen. So, I wanted to be able to access the third row even if you have a child seat in the second row. I wanted to be able to step into the second row, so if you’re trying to put a baby or a toddler into the child seat in the second row – right now you have to do some backbreaking thing where you have to hold the kid and cantilever yourself over the back seat. For me, it’s fine, but if you’re a five-foot-six woman and you weigh 130 pounds and you’re trying to take your 30 or 40 pound kids and do this, it’s really hard. On the other hand, if you can step into the car and put the kid down, it’s much easier. There are a few ways to accomplish that. One is to do the double-hinge and the other is to do a double door, so you have part of it go down. It may have been Franz who came up with the double-hinge approach, I’m not sure, but the double-hinge one work better than the double opening. And so when I was shown the options, I said let’s do that one.

ABG: Shifting topics to Supercharging, we’ve heard about this for a while. Can you talk about why you’re going your own way and also the idea behind it?

Musk: The Supercharger will be available to both the 60-kWh and the 85-kWh packs. The 40-kWh pack is really designed for people who never expect to do long-distance journeys. And on the 60-kWh pack, it’s offered as an option and on the 85-kWh pack it’s offered as a default because, presumably, someone is buying it for potential long-distance trips. The reason for the Supercharger – we hope to do a big unveiling in late September or October, and I’ll fully articulate it then – but, essentially, the other charge systems don’t have enough power and in order to really charge fast, the charger needs pretty advanced technology and it needs to exactly match the pack. It’s got to be hand-in-glove. So we couldn’t use some generic system because it doesn’t really understand our battery pack and there’s a quarter as much power as we need. So we want to recharge at a rate of over 300 miles of driving per hour. That means you can stop for 30 minutes and charge almost three hours or driving.

ABG: Which is so far above what anyone else is even talking about.

The Tesla Supercharger is on the order of 100 kW. The Leaf has like a 6 kWh. So we’re talking about something 12 to 15 times more powerful.

Musk: Exactly. There’s nothing even close. The Tesla Supercharger is on the order of 100 kW. The Leaf has like a 6 kWh, that’s their high-speed charger. So we’re talking about something 12 to 15 times more powerful than the Leaf’s fast charge. That the approximate convenience inflection point for long-distance driving, three hours of driving for a 30-minute stop. Most people, if they time themselves, will find that’s their ratio, it’s three hours to 30 minutes. So, you’ll start a trip at 9 am. By the time you get to noon, you want to stop and gas up, use the restroom, grab a bite to eat, grab a coffee and then go on your way. If you actually time yourself, you’ll see it’s about 30 minutes. People always think it’s less than that, but it’s not. Occasionally, somebody’s a super-hardass and they want to drive for like six hours and wear diapers or something, I guess that’s not our target market. So that’s our target inflection point, 30 minutes of charge for three hours of driving. Over time, we’re going to make that better. We’ll get down to 25 minutes, 20 minutes, eventually under 20 minutes for three hours of driving.

ABG: Is that part of the excitement for you, to again be pushing what EVs can do?

If we can make an electric car that people think is better than any gasoline car, then they’ll buy it just because it’s the best car. Then we’re way beyond people who just care about the environment.

Musk: That’s our goal, absolutely. The fundamental good that Tesla will serve is as a catalyst for the advent of electric vehicles. We’ve got to address all of the concerns that people have about electric vehicles and the reason that the Model S be the world’s best car – not for some ego reason – is it’s got to show that an electric can can be a better car than any gasoline car. I wouldn’t actually care all that much about making the best gasoline car in the world. That’s, eh. But if we can make an electric car that people think is better than any gasoline car, then they’ll buy it just because it’s the best car and then we’re way beyond people who just care about the environment. That’s great, but for a lot of people, it’s just not their top thing, so that’s why it’s very important for us to achieve that, which means our quality has got to be fantastic, our safety has got to be top of the line and we have to address the long-distance travel issue, and that’s what the Supercharger is about. I certainly hope people copy us, that’d be great.

ABG: What does the actual physical charger look like?

Musk: Well, we’re going to unveil it, so I can’t tell you what it’s going to look like. The thing that’s awesome is that the socket on the Model S that is used for home charging, that same socket can take 100 kW, which is amazing. We’re designing sockets and plugs the way they should be designed. This has got to be the best power rating of any plug-socket combination in the world. But then there’s the charger itself, which has a shape that’s really cool.

ABG: Can you talk about any of that stuff right now?

Musk: We’ve had the Supercharger in testing since September of last year [2011] and it’s working really well. We keep refining the technology and this is the most advanced charging device on the planet. I think it’s appropriately named, recycling the term, obviously, from the gasoline world.

ABG: Where do you see the Superchagers being built?

Musk: Places where there’s pretty good food available. Existing highway rest stops. So you just park, plug it in, go grab a bite to eat and a coffee and you’re on your way.

By Sebastian Blanco

Tesla powers up East Coast with first stops in new Supercharger network

tesla supercharger

The argument can now be made that Tesla Motors has come up with a sleeker alternative to the Amtrak lines that run along the Eastern Seaboard. The California-based electric vehicle company has installed the first East Coast fast-charging stations, allowing Model S owners to make the 450-mile trek between Boston and Washington DC without worrying about having sufficient juice.

Last week, Tesla added two fast-charging stations: one in Wilmington, DE, which is about 30 miles southwest of Philadelphia, and the other in Milford, CT, which is slightly southwest of the halfway point between New York City and Boston, the New York Times reports. Both 480-volt stations are at rest stops along I-95.

Granted, only Tesla Model S owners will be able to celebrate, as the stations are built specifically for those vehicles and can’t be used for, say, a Nissan Leaf or even a Tesla Roadster. That said, the stations can add 150 miles or range, or more than half the 265-mile single-charge range of a Model S with an 85-kw battery pack, in about 30 minutes. That’s just enough time to knock down a waffle sundae from Friendly’s, actually.

In October, Tesla had its official “Supercharging Day,” in which the company opened its first six fast chargers in the Western US. The complete package stations come with solar panels to power the cars, and cost around $250,000 to install. Model S drivers can charge their vehicles for free.

By Danny King

Tesla Supercharger Network Launched for Fast Charging

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.

By Luke Vandezande

Fan-made Tesla Model S commercial shines down “gallons of light”

tesla model s gallons of light

It’s not subtle, but what commercial is? A new, one-minute video called Gallons Of Light does an expert job highlighting the invisible benefits of electric drive: getting energy from sunlight while roadtripping in a Tesla Model S.

It may look and sound top-notch, but this is not an official Tesla video, it is the work of a fan. As you can probably tell by watching the video below, it is also not the work of a video amateur. No, the man behind the “ad” is Jordan Bloch, who has apparently also made videos for companies like Nike, British Airways and Nissan.

It’s too much to spoil the entire video for you (and it’ll only take 60-seconds to watch for yourself), but the gist of the spot is that – with the right EV – you can go on free road trips, powered by the sun. It’s a compelling little video, digesting a lot of arguments in favor of the Model S into one well-lit chunk. The story of how this video came to be is just as interesting, and it available here. One excerpt:

And here we were, a small team of young filmmakers hungry to make a difference in the world. When it came to the issue of financing the commercial, it wasn’t a matter of if but how we would complete the project with our limited resources (remember, Tesla was not paying us to do this). That left us utilizing “old school” technology for our camera rigging. It’s not what the big budget commercial guys use, but it did the trick.

Good stuff.

By Sebastian Blanco

Tesla Supercharger network offers free, solar energy for Model S drivers

Tesla Supercharger Unveiling

Tesla Supercharger Unveiling Right about … now, Tesla Motors is unveiling its new proprietary Supercharger high-speed charging network. The livestream can be seen here, and we’ve got the first official release about the network below. Here are the details – as we know them – of the “Free! Solar! Energy!” from the headline:

  • The first six Supercharger stations have already been built – under complete secrecy in various locations in California – and now “will allow [higher-end] Model S to travel long distances with ultra fast charging throughout California, parts of Nevada and Arizona.” The high-speed charging system is only compatible on Models S version with an 85-kWh (where the necessary Supercharger bits are standard) or 60-kWh (optional) battery packs.
  • The electricity “used by the Supercharger comes from a solar carport system provided by SolarCity, which results in almost zero marginal energy cost after installation.”
  • Tesla even says each Supercharger will generate more solar energy than the Tesla vehicles will use, resulting in “a slight net positive transfer of sunlight generated power back to the electricity grid.” This point is apparently important enough to repeat: “Supercharger system will always generate more power from sunlight than Model S customers use for driving.”
  • More Supercharger locations are coming to other, “high-traffic” parts of the U.S. “by next year” and will be installed in Europe and Asia starting in late 2013.
  • Superchargers can fill up a Model S with three hours of driving (at 60 miles per hour) in around 30 minutes. The charger currently provides “almost 100 kilowatts” of power, but could be reconfigured to 120 kW down the road.

We knew some of these things based on discussions with Tesla CEO Elon Musk and other sources. There will be more details ferreted out in the coming weeks, but at first blush, this looks exactly like we’d expect a Tesla charging product to be: big, brash and beyond expectations. The dreams are big over there. What do you think the reality will be like?

By Sebastian Blanco

Tesla Supercharger network to feature solar panels, battery swapping

Slide from shareholders meeting featuring outline of what's next for the company

Supplying energy for cars on the move is an important piece of the electric vehicle puzzle and in this regard Tesla Motors is taking a unique approach. At some time in the future – the company is not saying when, exactly – it plans to reveal what it calls its Supercharger network.

Although the company isn’t giving any details about the design of the individual stations, we expect something more than just a post with a plug. Much more. During the recent shareholders meeting where CEO Elon Musk briefly touched on the system, he declared that when people see how awesome it is and what Tesla has planned, it will blow their minds. We await this moment.

Of course, Musk can be given to a bit of hyperbole now and again. When discussing the five-star safety rating of the Model S, he said if there was a sixth star, the vehicle would have been awarded it as well. Still, hints as to what is involved with the Superchargers arose during the Q&A session after the main presentation and makes us think that this will indeed be pretty cool.

For example, we expect it to feature battery swapping. Long a controversial concept in the electric vehicle community, it is clear that Tesla is going to employ it in some fashion. Whether it will be available for every pack size – the Model S comes with either a 40-, 60- or 85-kWh pack – is not yet known, but it shouldn’t prevent you from retaining ownership of a specific pack. While fast charging your 85-kWh Model S might take around 45 minutes using the 90-kW station with its proprietary connector, the battery packs are engineered to enable a swap as quickly as one minute.

Another prominent feature will be solar panels. Musk is a big proponent of solar energy and it’s been reported that Tesla and SolarCity (where he also serves as chairman) are working together to create rooftop solar storage systems. What better place, we rhetorically ask with no pun intended, to implement such a scheme than atop stations stuffed with batteries. Musk says the panels will help illustrate the connection between sustainable power production and electric transport and go some way to combat the long tailpipe argument.

If you’d like to watch video of the shareholders meeting, it’s available at Tesla’s website for a while longer. Besides discussion of the Supercharger, there are a lot of little tidbits for those interested in the company and its product. More to come.

By Domenick Yoney

Is free charging for EVs actually a hindrance, long term?


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