Supercharging process?

edited November -1 in General
Hi guys,
I guess a few of you have used the supercharging network already?
Just wondering how it works exactly?
Can you make a "charging reservation" on one of the pumps so that there isn't someone using it when you arrive? Would suck to have to wait for someone else to finish charging before you can even start. This could lead to an assumed 30 minute stop turning into 45 mins or an hour or more (if you are third in line!)

I realize this problem is probably a ways off yet, but there will be a lot more Tesla's on the road soon!

Would be great if the supercharging stations were fully integrated with the onboard touch screen via the web so that you could see what charging times are available and book your charing time well ahead of schedule. This way you can plan your trip to arrive at the chosen time. The station should also prompt you to confirm your time at a certain point so if you are running late you can change or cancel your booking so that someone else can use it if you won't be able to.

I also think they may need an attendant at the supercharing stations. What if someone's car is finished charging but they are running late getting back? A person who has booked their charging time may get a little upset if they can't start charging because someone else has left their car in the way.

You could have the supercharging stations send you txt/email alerts as your car gets close to full charge reminding you to get back and move your car...but it might be better to leave your keys with a supercharging attendant so they could manage all the charging stations and cars, so that they could move vehicles around as they finish charging.

Just trying to think of the smoothest way for this to all work. Don't want Tesla to disappoint here...they have been so great at everything else thus far!


  • edited November -1
    First off I'm in no way trying to be rude or attacking, this is just my opinion.

    Your suggestions scare me a bit. When reading your post I worry I might come across more then one other driver that feels this way.

    Tesla is offering a free service to their clients, you can argue that you pay for the charging in the cost of the battery (or add-on) you select. But anyone that can use the super charger also has payed into the option of using the Superchargers. So it's still a free all you can use service.

    But some how you suggest we should be entitled to an opening, for a free service that's set up on a first come first serve basis. This reminds me of gas price wars, when lines of cars are all on edge to reach the pump, and the driver with rage ensures he get his fair turn.

    These supercharges are not in downtown locations for you to top up for your commute, or Starbucks instead of charging at home. They are placed between city's for cars to reposition, or take road trips that aren't possible otherwise.

    By design you pull into the parking space (notice they are parking spaces not pull through lanes), plug in and walk away. Just by nature they are longer stops, tesla is placing them where we take rest stops.

    The infrastructure was designed for more then one parking space ( I understand that at the moment there is at least one that has a single parking space, but I'm sure this was a testing site. And will not be the norm going forward). Also during a video or written somewhere I remember it being said that two plugs can run off one charger. If a car is plugged in with a 70% SOC, and a car pulls in with 20% SOC. The second car will draw a larger ratio of current then the first car. This way the driver with the most need, will receive the most current.

    There is a smart phone app in the works from tesla, that should be able to tell you how much energy your car has. So no text or email required.

    Just take a look next time your in a parking lot, how many of one car model do you see? Or how many Porsche boxsters? Because for the next few years this is what it will be like. Tesla has time to up the number of parking spaces as the number of cars hit the road in the future requiring them.

    The third gen cars will more then likely have smaller battery packs, for the smaller cars, and get the same range. There time at the charge should also be equally shorter. Meaning that maybe the vast majority of Tesla's will sit for 20-30 minutes not 30-50 minutes.

    I would like to hear from others on this as well.
  • edited November -1
    No, you can't make a reservation.

    Reservations would complicate matters, require more infrastructure (costs), and would ultimately cause more problems then they solve because people on trips often don't arrive within an hour of their target time for one reason or another. The solution to charging congestion will be be build more Superchargers on the more densely traveled routes.
  • edited November -1
    Geez guys did you even read the whole of my post? As I refuted both of your claims in it:
    1. I said I realize that this isn't likely to be a problem in the near future but if Tesla plans on building 100,000+ cars per year then it should as least think about this potential problem.

    2. I said I realize people don't always arrive on time which is why I specifically said the car should prompt you (say 15 mins before your charging time) to ask you to confirm or change your time if necessary.

    Ecoheliguy - why would my comments "scare" you? My God going outside must be very difficult for you. If people share my opinion then it only proves that Tesla should consider a way to more actively manage their supercharging network,because it is something their customers want. Or would you rather they ignore customer concerns?

    You mentioned something about not seeing the same type of Porsche in a parking lot...this is good because I think Tesla should be producing about the same number of cars per year as Porsche in the next 3-4 years.
    But what about if all Porsche's had their own special gas stations because their cars ran on a unique type of fuel that they couldn't get at any other gas station (other than a special pumping system that they all have at home). Oh and it takes at least 30 mins to "pump" this special fuel and the fuel is free only at these special stations exclusively for Porsche owners. My guess is that you might often see more than one or two Porsche's at these stations at any one time between major destinations/cities. Its not a perfect analogy of course but you see what I'm getting at.
    What if Tesla decides to open up its supercharging network to other EV manufacturers, even if these non Tesla users had to pay it could drastically increase demand for the chargers.

    jerry3 - you say that reservations would require more infrastructure but your alternative to a reservation system is to build more supercharging stations??? This makes no sense. A reservation system would allow each supercharger to be used to its highest efficiency, for the expressed reason of NOT having to needlessly build more stations that may not actually be needed (at significantly higher cost to both Tesla and the environment I might add.)

    Think about it, when you are planning a road trip where a supercharger is likely to be involved you usually know a few days in advance, roughly what time you will be leaving and arriving at your destination. So would you rather make a tentative booking to charge at a certain time, or roll the dice that the chargers might all be unavailable when you get there (even if there is a small chance of this happening - peace of mind means a lot to those with a busy schedule or 4 screaming kids in the car!)

    Generally people who can afford a Tesla are successful people, typically one of the most common traits in successful people is that they are organized and good with their time management. They have busy lives and therefore like to have appointments, bookings, reservations, etc planned well ahead of schedule so that they spend as little time waiting around as humanly possible. These types of people like certainty, not a "show up and see how it goes wait for an hour or so if you need to" attitude.
    It may be irrational in the end but these ARE questions that intelligent and busy potential Tesla customers will ask. Tesla should have a clear and concise answer for them. It may be the deciding factor in many people look for every excuse to not try something new (like an electric car).

    I really don't think this would be rocket science to implement. You bring up the station in question by finding it on the map on your car's touch screen, click on it...This will bring up a basic diagram showing the layout of the station..say it has two "pumps" on "pump 2" then lists a calendar, click on the day you require...this opens up a sheet showing the times of all current bookings and all available times on that day...fill in your time and confirm via your car/txt/email 15-30 mins before the actual charging time.
    If you arrive without a booking and there are no other bookings you are of course free to use the charger. I'm not trying to say that bookings are "mandatory" in any way! So if you like to fly by the seat of your pants and take your chances that a charger will always be available to you at precisely the moment you drive in, well that's great for you and good luck...but don't penalize those busy people that like to be a little more organized in everything they do.

  • edited November -1
    @&lt;b> teddyg</b> | NOVEMBER 24, 2012: <cite>...when you are planning a road trip where a supercharger is likely to be involved you usually know a few days in advance, roughly what time you will be leaving and arriving at your destination. </cite>

    I have no problems if Tesla would like to implement a reservation system for superchargers. Ideally, however, I would like this to be automated in such a way as to allow me to specify my route through the navigation system and have the reservation automatically be scheduled based on my expected time of arrival at the charger - taking actual travel times into account. Also, the navigation system should suggest a route path that would encompass superchargers along the way.
  • edited November -1
    To add you talked about "rage at the gas pump". Well reservations would go along way to preventing arguments at the supercharging "pump." Imagine you arrive at the same time as other driver with only one supercharger available. You think people get upset now if one person butts ahead of another for a 2-3 minute gasoline fill up, well just imagine the arguments that will ensue when the loser of this supercharging argument has to wait 30-45 minutes or longer!
    I fear with the gun proliferation in the US that a situation like that could get ugly real quick.

    Sticking your head in the sand and thinking that EV drivers are simply more rational, patient, and cool headed will only get you so far. This issue will have to be addressed eventually if EV's are to proliferate and supercharging is the chosen means to enable long distance travel.
    Tesla might as well plan ahead for this eventuality.
  • edited November -1
    That's a great idea AlexK...very high tech, yet simple. These are the types of solutions I am talking about. Think and discuss it it can be refined and put into practice when it is proven to be needed...cheers!
  • edited November -1
    One thing you ignore or perhaps don't know is that the power is de facto (or contracted?) managed by Solar City; they provide their SC sites' arrays' feed to the grid (A), and purchase the power used by the cars (B) from the grid. In total, the arrays are large and numerous enough so that A always exceeds B. Their profit (which must first cover array installation and capital cost) is what permits "free". Every embellishment (especially, e.g., a Supercharger attendant) cuts into or erases that.
  • edited November -1
    Obviously everything comes with a cost. However even if the superchargers end up costing Tesla slightly, the benefits of providing a positive and seemless experience will pay Tesla back 100 fold through increased sales. Don't do it and the superchargers could become a negative boondoggle something which EV detractors, who love pointing out every percieved impracticality, will be more than eager to publicize every chance they get.
    This is Tesla's answer to the gas's important to get it right and take into account all potential problems before they arise.
  • edited November -1
    I have a few ideas.. will try to write down.. but not sure if it will be understandable.:-)

    Tesla should implement a solution, where the superchargers "talk" with cars planning to charge, as mentioned above.

    This way, users at least will know that the chargers are operational, and if any, how long a line there is..

    They can get a number on the map on 1-10 which tell how many people are using/heading for the specific supercharger, and plan their trip and visit the lesser used chargers.

    The cars/superchargers should be able to calculate when cars arrive, and how long they will need to charge.. and come up with a number indicating any potential waiting time.

    If you have a choice to charge on a few chargers on your way, the frist one you dont really need to stop at, but if you do stop it can give you the extra juice to drive past the second charger.. than this may be the way to go if you realize there are quit a few people on their way to/in line for charger 2. Then you use charger 1 and 3 instead of 2.

    It should be easy to implement, as long as all cars use the navigation, and talk with the supercharger network.

    The cars will know their powerneeds, and if the drivers plot a route past superchargers, the cars could ask/offer the best chargers to stop at, depending on distance/line at the chargers/expected time to wait..

    Regarding reservation.. that might not be the way to go. even with a number in line, you are depending that people respect these numbers. It complicate things. You'd rather make it so that first come first served, and then arrange the line so that noone can sneak past the ones in front. Make it physical impossible to drive past others waiting in line.

    And.. there should be a way to contact the owner of cars charging. Maybe Tesla could implement a solution, where the second in line automaticly get the phoone number of the owner of the car in front. So if this person forget to move the car, the one waiting could call and remind him/her. (or the car charging could call its owner itself, the car should know, through the supercharger network, that there are other cars waiting.)
  • edited November -1
    In the short run, the biggest bottleneck is Harris Ranch, because it's a popular spot and has only one charging slot until a 4-slot station goes in sometime next year. In the long run, the big challenge is getting drivers to lose their gas pump mentality. Rather than charging until the car is full (which takes a long time because the top third charges very slowly compared with the bottom half), Model S drivers need to learn to unplug as soon as they have enough miles to get to the next destination.

  • edited November -1
    I agree with Jack

    Two things the public as a whole don't seem to understand.

    1) just like your cell phone, plugging in at night tops up the battery. You don't need 300 miles of charging capacity at your house.

    2) the lower your battery is the quicker it can charge, it has to do with voltage difference between the source and the battery. Larger the difference the fast energy flows. When the battery is near full, the voltage difference isn't great, and the flow slows.

    Your better off leaving your house with a full battery and arriving at the supercharger as close to 0 as possible. You will get a fastl rate of charge and then drive to the next supercharger. If you arrived 75% full it takes a lot longer to fill the last 25%.
  • edited November -1
    If you arrived 75% full, why do you need a charge at all?
  • edited November -1
    That's the point, but on a few forums people have been of the impression they need to top up at the Superchargers.

    I feel Tesla's idea is tell people to park for 30 mins, and you'll make it to the next supercharger. You'll get a maximum of a 150 miles depending on the SOC you started on. But you'll make it to the next charger.

    This to me is brilliant. You won't have to think about your range, as long as you stop for 30 mins.

    On a side note, I think Tesla should place a little "you are here" map at the Superchargers. Doesn't have to be fancy but just a reference to the next Superchargers in range of the one your using. Could even have a radius drawn around towns you can reach in 150 miles.
  • edited November -1
    As someone who has used the supercharging network (last weekend, in Gilroy, twice), I was very pleased with it. There are two chargers, and empty spots next to the charge spots, presumably for a waiting vehicle.

    Supercharging is noticeably faster on a lower battery. If you are less than 100 miles on a P85, the full current of 225A (or something high like that) flows. Once the battery is charged to 180+ mile range, it slows down to 75A. In general though, it gave me the top-up mileage I needed in a very short time. The charger was next to In-n-Out, so we really didn't worry about the charge time, just got some food, and made it back with enough charge to complete our 238 mile journey without having to worry about driving speed or efficiency. The greatest part about it was the fact that it was easy and free. No credit card, no standing there, just plug it in an walk away.
  • edited November -1
    30 minutes won't cut if for a 60kWh car, though. It charges slower in absolute terms; it will fill 50% in that time, but it's a smaller 50%.
  • edited November -1
    A "you are here map"? While I agree this should be put up as a low tech solution but you do realize that you have a massive touch screen in the Model S which has google maps and I am sure will clearly show all supercharging stations, along with your current location, on it? I mean do people really use actual folding maps anymore?
    Can anyone with a Model S confirm this?

    This is why I think a reservation system could be so easy.
    You just click on the supercharger station on your touchscreen map, click on the "pump" in question, book your day and time, the station will confirm you are still on time 15-30 mins ahead of your charging time via txt/email or pop up message on the car's touch screen. You then cancel/reshedule/confirm your charging time at that point.

    So just to imagine a scenario:
    Tesla A has a super charging reservation on pump 2 (of 4) at 11:30am.
    Tesla B arrives at 11:10 am and attempts to plug in at pump 2. Pump 2 (through a info screen) makes it aware to the Tesla B owner that there is only 20 mins of charging time available until the pump's next reservation. This may be enough time for Tesla B to top up anyway so he may go ahead or, if he needs a longer charge, he can try his luck at one of the other 3 pumps.

    I wouldn't get bogged down with problems like people are always late, etc. As you can either confirm/cancel/reshedule up to 15 mins out this should solve most of these probs. I also think, just like any other appointment, it is your responsibility to arrive on time. It's not the doctor's fault if you are late. You should leave ahead of schedule leaving plenty of time to reach your destination on time.
    The organized type of people who are going to want to make supercharging reservations will most likely do this, probably arriving 5-10 minutes before their reservation.
    This shouldn't be a prob as you could still connect early (if no other reservations before yours).

    I think the pump should automatically cancel any reservation that has not been confirmed and if nobody has plugged in 5 mins after the scheduled reservation time.

    To prevent people from stealing reservations Tesla could provide a password when you make a reservation that would be entered into the pump on arrival.

    In fact I think everyone should have to make a "reservation" to charge. I.e. Even if you just arrived at a pump without a reservation you should still have to place a booking on the pump, detailing the charging time you require, before it will allow you to charge. This is really just telling the pump how long you need to charge and can be used to update the reservation schedule in real time so that there are no surprises in the reservation system.

    Again I realize this system may not been needed for some time, until Tesla numbers are much higher, but there will probably be some bottleneck areas that could use a reservation system in the not too distant future. I think Tesla should plan ahead for this.

    Only other question I have is if Tesla should have an attendant at the Supercharging stations. This could be good in terms of drivers handing over their keys to the attendant so that he can move cars around as they finish charging. I worry that there could be some issues where a car has finished charging but the driver has not yet returned, leaving cars waiting to charge behind.
    Maybe you would only need an attendant during peak busy periods 8:00am to 6:00pm or so?
    I think Tesla should try to make the experience as seamless as possible, especially during these formative years when critics will be taking every chance to point out any perceived EV failing or inconvenience.
  • edited November -1
    I love your reservation ideas.

    I would doubt that Tesla has budgeted attendants into their business plan. You raise a valid concern but I think it would be an isolated incident. The stations mostly appear to be in areas where there aren't too many people so you could attempt to locate the selfish violator and ask him to move his car.
  • edited November -1
    Again I doubt any of this will be needed right away but may be something Tesla should start to consider by early 2014.
    One attendant at each supercharging station working 10 hrs per day at $10 per hour would cost Tesla about $36,500 per year per station.
    So $3,650,000 per year for all 100 of its supercharging stations planned by 2015.
    Not a lot when you consider how much a hassle free well run charging network could mean to Tesla in terms of sales. Especially when we get to the 100,000 per year production runs of Gen III.

    I think if they implement a good automated system as described above, with txt messages sent automatically as your car is 5 mins from finishing its charge, then there shouldn't be too many issues.

    Tesla can adopt a wait and see attitude here. It may be that an attendant will only be needed at the very busiest stations.
    However I am certain that sooner or later an online based reservation system would be a good idea.
  • Seeing as there is only about two thousand on the road now (not all of them in California, not all travelling intercity most of the time) the idea of Tesla spending money on attendants is rather silly, after something like 10,000 are sold and the lines get longer, simply add more automated stations at the most heavily used stations (most likely on the route between LA and the Bay Area), not employees!

    Labour costs more than just the $10.00 per hour you pay them, payroll taxes, employer contributions etc. costs something like $0.30 for every $1.00 you pay them! California is one of the worst states for employing people (taxes, regulations etc.) in any case. My guess is that the only reason Tesla is based in California is the huge incentives Governor Moonbeam offered up (smart move on his part but I personally would not want to pay the ridiculous cost of living or the state income taxes there). Florida is much cheaper and easier to live in and operate a business out of than California (they do not punish people for making money here - no state income tax), plenty of sun and beaches like CA - hmmm maybe Tesla should consider building its next plant here... Elon could buy a great waterfront place here for half of what it would cost in CA, file with the IRS as a FL resident and save a fortune! We have great fun stuff for his kids to do in Central FL and Space X already launches from Kennedy Space Centre...

    Employees not building, designing or selling Teslas doing something that can be automated is a waste of money, better spend it expanding the network...

    That being said does anyone know where the next supercharging stations will be? Sure the first three in between the two largest metro areas in California makes sense, 38 million people, early adapters, Tesla starts there, but next have to look at where the most model S sold... As I have not seen the geographic breakdown I would guess you would follow the wealth and population... Next logical place would be the Boston - Richmond megalopolis - 55 million people compactly lining the I-95 corridor. Place them roughly between major cities like Boston, Hartford, NY, Trenton, Philadelphia, Wilmington, Baltimore, DC, and Richmond. That would be eight that would serve the most populated area in the US and really help spur sales... My guess would be that Tesla would be able to get its stations in great locations (state owned rest-stops in solar friendly states or TA or Pilot truck/travel stops hoping for affluent Tesla driving customers) for very low costs.

    Of course personally it gets more interesting for me when the eventually expand the network all the way down the I-95 to Miami the funnest place in america (for grownups). But still doing the the whole I-95 corridor in the phase after the northeast despite the thin population from Richmond to Jacksonville makes sense as FL is growing rapidly and will hit 20 million in a few years and there is heavy long distance travel and migration between NY and South/Central FL.
  • edited November -1
    As usual, the big hurdle in emplacing S/C stations is getting regulatory and utility approval and co-operation. TM has the hardware ready to roll, but the dance partners are too snooty.
  • Some states are more solar friendly than others and if the state is your partner (rest-stop locations) than you will be surprised how fast those permits get issued - especially if there is an election coming up and politicians need to burnish their green image... If you are having difficulty in a particular area have the reservation holders/owners call their elected representatives to ask why government is blocking eco-friendly progress, if they do not jump to help, have them write to local newspapers about how Senator/Congressman/Assemblyman/Mayor ______________, does not give a hoot about the environment and will not help a private company do something good for a change!
  • edited November -1
    Hey guys,
    Sorry to bring up an old thread but I had a thought the other day and wondered what you all might think.

    What if a Model S owner lives very close to a supercharging station? Could they use it every day/week to charge/top up for free? Or would this be very damaging to the battery?

    Wouldn't be good if people in the local area end up hogging Superchargers from those who really need it for long distance travel.
  • edited November -1
    In general, the SC stations will be located between cities, to facilitate long-distance travel. Few will live near them.
  • edited November -1
    I don't think you should be allowed to use one within 100 miles of your home.
  • edited November -1
    Hmm that would seem kind of tricky to enforce DJP. This wouldn't be a problem if people had to pay to supercharge.

    I understand that SC stations are generally between cities but what is the population of say Folsom, Barstow, Newark, etc?
    If Tesla plans on being in every garage it is logical that there will be a few Tesla's living close to these areas...hopefully the convienience of charging at home will outweigh saving a few dollars by using a supercharger just down the road.
    Something for Tesla to consider as they get bigger perhaps.
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