Tesla Motors (NASDAQ: TSLA) today unveiled its highly anticipated Supercharger network. Constructed in secret, Tesla revealed the locations of the first six Supercharger stations, which will allow the Model S to travel long distances with ultra fast charging throughout California, parts of Nevada and Arizona.
The technology at the heart of the Supercharger was developed internally and leverages the economies of scale of existing charging technology already used by the Model S, enabling Tesla to create the Supercharger device at minimal cost. 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. Combining these two factors, Tesla is able to provide Model S owners1 free long distance travel indefinitely.
Each solar power system is designed to generate more energy from the sun over the course of a year than is consumed by Tesla vehicles using the Supercharger. This results in a slight net positive transfer of sunlight generated power back to the electricity grid. In addition to lowering the cost of electricity, this addresses a commonly held misunderstanding that charging an electric car simply pushes carbon emissions to the power plant. The Supercharger system will always generate more power from sunlight than Model S customers use for driving. By adding even a small solar system at their home, electric car owners can extend this same principle to local city driving too.
The six California locations unveiled today are just the beginning. By next year, we plan to install Superchargers in high traffic corridors across the continental United States, enabling fast, purely electric travel from Vancouver to San Diego, Miami to Montreal and Los Angeles to New York. Tesla will also begin installing Superchargers in Europe and Asia in the second half of 2013.
The Supercharger is substantially more powerful than any charging technology to date, providing almost 100 kilowatts of power to the Model S, with the potential to go as high as 120 kilowatts in the future. This can replenish three hours of driving at 60 mph in about half an hour, which is the convenience inflection point for travelers at a highway rest stop. Most people who begin a road trip at 9am would normally stop by noon to have lunch, refresh and pick up a coffee or soda for the road, all of which takes about 30 minutes.
“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. 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,” said Elon Musk, Tesla Motors co-founder and CEO. “We are giving Model S the ability to drive almost anywhere for free on pure sunlight.”