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Beware - Are Tesla Charging Stations Dead To You Too?

When I purchased my Model S, the only context supercharging came up in was with respect to what I needed to install in my garage to take the best advantage of my Tesla. As I primarily plan to drive in town (not road trips), I decided on a single battery option and then was advised that since I did not have a dual battery, the supercharging option ($2,000) made no sense for me. I took this advice.

However, what was not explained to me was that by making this choice, charging at Tesla Charging Stations is now dead to me. What I thought I was giving up was some of the SPEED of the charging. I did not know that I was giving up ever getting any juice at a supercharger. So, imagine my surprise when the station at Montgomery Mall would not give me any power.

The charging station network is very heavily promoted when buying a Tesla. I think it is incumbent upon Tesla to make sure that charging at stations is available to all Tesla owners. (If they want to charge extra for faster charging, o.k., but access to some kind of charging should be available for all Teslas and built into the base price of the car.) This is implied in all advertising. No advertising that I have seen makes it explicit that you can buy a Tesla, and then, by the way, if you pay ADDITIONAL $2,000 you can plug in at Tesla charging stations.

Thoughts? Comments? (I realize that perhaps a vast majority might be automatically purchasing the supercharging option - I might have also, if the implication of not being able to charge at a charging station was fully explained - so perhaps this does not affect that many owners?)


  • edited November -1

    I'm not sure how you thought you'd be able to charge at a supercharger without paying for it, regardless of speed (and, of course, that assumes there is a way for the supercharger to "know" that you are a "slow charge" customer, in the first place). If you were allowed to take a slot for slow charging that would preclude a paying customer from using that slot to supercharge his/her car. Now THAT would be very unfair.

    At the Mall, they also have HPWC chargers that you can use, and they will charge your car at the rate that you claim you expected the superchargers to charge your car at, so there is clearly no harm/no foul in your situation.

    As to advertising, there is nothing to suggest that the superchargers can charge at different speeds depending upon whether you pay or don't pay for the supercharging option. You made that assumption without asking anyone at Tesla and now you complain that your illogical assumption proved to be wrong.

    The good news is that now that you know, you can purchase the supercharger option and all will be good in your world.
  • edited November -1
    piotr: I suspect that maybe you were not alone (though this is the first I have heard of it), as Supercharging is now standard with all new Teslas (it is no longer an option). At the recent "reach the Beach" Tesla owners event, I saw a Model S charging at 110v at the hotel...which was less than 1 mile from the Salisbury MD supercharger. My first thought was why that Owner did not pay for Supercharging capability on their car....it seemed really strange.

    So I think Tesla made the right move to make supercharging capability standard from here on out (as with all wheel drive [though you can option out of it on the S85]).

    I do agree with jacobp in that you need to spring for the supercharging capability, or else you will miss out on future opportunities to really stretch the legs of your Model S!
  • Jacob,

    What you write is not quite correct.

    First, I do agree that at Montgomery Mall I am made whole because there are HPWC chargers available. And if ALL Tesla charging stations have this option, I have no beef at all. Do they?

    When buying the Tesla I was explicitly told that Tesla Charging station network is free to Tesla drivers - this was an error and that IS my beef.

    As far as the possibility of supercharger knowing that I am a slow-charge customer. Here surely YOU must be kidding. TESLA KNOWS ALL. In fact my Tesla is wired for supercharging, I learned. All they have to do is flick a switch (they demonstrated this for me today) and my car can be supercharged. So, all they would need to do is to flick a switch and limit the charge speed. But this is all too complicated.

    (And by the way, Tesla is happy to sell me supercharging capability post-purchase even today, albeit with a slight pricing penalty.)

    I just wish I was not (I am sure inadvertently) misled about charging station availability being there in the cost of the car. I understand SUPERCHARGING is not. But those two are distinct.

    Anyway, again, if SOME kind of charging is available to me at the charging stations (as there is at Montgomery Mall), I am fine.

    As far as me taking up a charging space. Well, at Montgomery Mall that is how it is and there is no issue. (Anyway, as configurations differ, the only way to address THAT issue is to limit the time one can occupy a station while others are waiting - so here my penalty would be that I would get less charge than someone else.)
  • JThompson,

    Thanks. I took delivery only in December, so should it not be included? It just seems weird that the car has the capability, but Tesla charges additional price to flick the switch to turn it on. (I don't mean necessarily unfair, just weird.)

    As for adding it presently. I think for now I will pass. I purchased the Tesla specifically to drive around town, not on road trips.

    First, I noticed that in the past 10 years I had not taken a single road trip and; second, at the end of the day, when even a supercharge takes 90 minutes+ that is too long for me to wait if I am driving with the goal of getting somewhere. So, if a road trip ever happens, I will take another car.

    I did think it somewhat enticing that these charge stations are scattered throughout, however, and thought that I may try out how this could work. Now, I just won't (at least until I upgrade to a new Tesla perhaps in five to ten years, with batteries that will have even faster charging capability).
  • edited November -1
    What makes you think that the supercharger units are designed for two distinct speeds of charging?

    I just don't get your complaint. You say you consciously decided not to get supercharging because you don't plan to take road trips. Yet you want to use the very stations Tesla has designed precisely for that purpose.

    Don't you have charging capability at home? Were you planning to use superchargers to charge locally in lieu of charging at home and spending the few pennies per kwH that it costs? And in doing so, spending hours at a supercharger (charging at the same rate as you can charge at home @ 29 miles/hour) and taking up a spot that would be needed by someone who is on a road trip and needs to supercharge. I hope you're not "that guy."

    Supercharging is not "free." Obviously. It costs Tesla money to build the stations and provide energy. Those of us who paid for supercharging simply prepaid for the privilege of being able to use the stations as intended. The prepaid price is included in the 85 but is not included in the 60. That point was made VERY clear in the online ordering area. You elected to forego that option.

    And if you think supercharging takes 90+ minutes, I would offer that you were misled (probably by the same person who told you that you could use the superchargers even if you don't pay for it).
  • Jacob,

    Maybe you need to reread my posts. I have no beef about not being able to supercharge. My only beef is at not being able to charge AT ALL at Tesla charging stations - and I am not so obcessed with this; it just does not match with what was presented to me.

    It was the Tesla rep, who suggested that supercharging was of little use to me, with my single battery, so I assumed that he knew what he was talking about and agreed not to bother with it. I did not infer that I was giving up ALL charging service ar the much promoted Tesla Charging Stations.

    I am totally happy with my home charging and with the use I am getting out of my Tesla. The only shortcoming I am experiencing is that if once in a blue moon I were to venture out of the Washington Metro area, Tesla chargers are completely useless to me.

    It's clearly not worth $2,000 to me if I take advantage of them eight or ten times over the life of my car. But at the same time, it's annoying that the chargers are dead to me completely. I suppose I wish there was some intermediate option, like, say, charging me a super premium price of $100 for one time use. As it is, I will just need to switch to a gas gusler to drive to, say Philadelphia and back.

    Of course, the other solution is to provide HPWC at all charging stations (and perhaps that is the case - I don't know... I haven't asked yet... Do you know?) Anyway, as I do intend to stay put in Washington 99% of the time, it's not such a big deal. I am just glad I caught on before driving off to Richmond or something.
  • edited November -1
    Nearly all cars are built to order, with the exception of those bought off the floor in galleries/stores. Only the 40 and 60 kWh models ever had an option to not be supercharger capable, so whatever you believe Tesla said about the superchargers being free is wrong. It was simply included as an option for some and standard for more expensive models, but being standard does not mean it is not included in the price. When you used the online car building tool to select all your options, it was very clear that you would not have access to supercharges. The fact is that you felt you would never need the feature, but now realize that you do. It may be unfortunate, but in the scheme of things, the option is still available for you.

    Many people have also said they do not want dual chargers in their cars, because they do not need fast charging. Well... The problem there again is that something is missing.... Foresight. Supercharging is not available everywhere, and many destination chargers are Tesla HPWC, and with only one on board charger, you have to charge at half the speed you might have been able to otherwise. Naturally I am not saying this to be critical of anyone, but rather to help others make an informed decision about future consequences of what they might select today.
  • edited November -1
    piotr: I am going to try to end this thread on a positive note. Since Tesla is offering you supercharging at $2000, if you can afford it, here are the reasons why you should do it:

    1. The $2,000 allows you ever-growing freedom to explore the U.S. in your beautiful Model S. There are now 186 supercharging stations in North America, with 22 add'l stations in permit or under construction (http://supercharge.info/). By this time next year (estimating from Teslas website) that number will be around 260, then 360 by 2017.
    2. Your investment in supercharging (along with everyone else's!) changes your Model S from just another EV (albeit FAST) that you have to plug in for hours to a cross country vehicle that you can charge on 30 minutes. Again, I cannot tell you how strange it was to see a Model S charging at 3 mph on 11 volt while a supercharging site was 1/2 mile away...it just does not compute.
    3. The camaraderie you build at a supercharging site does not come with a price tag. I have met some great people while charging, and I have kept in touch with those folks over the years.

    We all have our own value judgement systems, and $2000 is after all $2000. But right now your Model S is restricted to a traditional EV role (commuter car), and only supercharging (and getting out there and taking long distance trips!) is going to break your car out of the box in which it is confined.

    BTW, my daughter & I are going on a coast-to-coast Model S trip in June, to include a factory tour. we are certainly nowhere near the first people to do this, but I would never consider doing this trip in my ICE because of the cost!!

    I wish you good luck as enjoy your Model S!
  • edited November -1
    oooppsss....I meant 110 volt (not 11 volt)
  • Hi Leonard,

    As you point out, I can purchase supercharging presently (there is a $500 penalty, but that is small potatoes - it now costs $2,500 not $2,000 to add it on). However, as I use my car pretty much exclusively for commuting, I was never interested in (and still am not) supercharging. What I would like to be able to do, however, is to get SOME juice at WHATEVER the speed from a charger when I pull up to it (and certainly am happy to pay SOME price for it), should I ever need it in an emergency or the rarest, outside my profile trip, say to Richmond and back. Anyway... not there... got it. Yesterday I went to Annapolis and back (from Rockville) - great experience: that is the furthest I would ever go.
  • JThompson,

    I read about some of your trips and it sounds like you are having a great time. This, however, is not what I do or what I use my car for. When I take a trip, I fly (with the rare exception of New York, where I take the train). In the past ten years, the life of my previous car, I have not taken a single road trip and as I get older, I have even less interest in doing this. That is why I chose a single battery; if I wanted to travel I would, OF COURSE, get the two battery option.

    Given my usage profile, I would be more interested in a bunch of chargers scattered around town for an occasional boost than the national network of superchargers. Anyway, presently, charging at home has worked great.

    The only limitation I have experienced so far was when I took a short trip out to Falling Water in PA (past Cunberland). As it were, if I wanted to take the Tesla on THAT trip I would have had to actually charge on the road several times when I wanted to be driving straight through, and also add about 30 miles to my trip to route through the Somerset, PA charger. Planning my life around my car is not how I approach what I do. So, instead, we took our Highlander Hybrid on the trip. Perfect solution for us.

    The bottom line: for me the Tesla is doing exactly what I got it for and in my view, at least, it is not very good (as it is limited) at going out of town (even with two batteries and supercharging). For example, another short trip that I have taken a few times (but only a few) in the past ten years was out to Old Rag in Virginia. I looked at charging options for THAT trip - not so good. So, am I supposed to pick my destinations based on where my car can get to? That's the tail wagging the dog.

    I can see how that works for some, who just want to explore. For me: I decide where I need to go and then find the best solution. For 99% of my travel (commuting and getting around town) Tesla is the answer. For the other 1% it is usually airplane, sometimes train, and RARELY, another car.
  • edited November -1
    Strange - I have a P85D on order from Montomery Mall. I got the dual charger and wall charger just for local trips. I asked the sales rep if I needed the dual charger for the super charging stations and he said no. He also said the super charger only uses one so it will not charge any faster with the dual charger accessory. I also asked if there would ever be any fee for super chargers and he said no, free for life - but they are only intended for long trips. I will ask for clarification tomorrow. I am getting the dual charger anyway but I would have been unimpressed if I was told I didn't need the dual charger and I found out on a road trip that was incorrect. Also - Is the dual charger now an accessory and not an option so it's not on the lease but will be turned in with the car? I am not leasing but that seems shady to me.

    All things considered, it's an amazing car.
  • edited November -1
    David: The supercharger system does NOT use the on-board chargers. The on-board chargers convert AC (from a wall plug) into DC, where it flows into the battery pack. The superchargers, however, convert AC from the power lines into DC, and that DC power travels down a dedicated cable (not the same as AC power travels to the on-board chargers) to the battery pack. All tesla employees know this - and if they do not they need to be retrained.

    Single versus dual on-board chargers is a decision you make based upon how often you will charge in a non-supercharger situation. The main reason you need dual chargers is if you want to take full advantage of an 80 amp HPWC (at your home or another Tesla owner's house or a destination charger [such as at many hotels]). Each on-board charger can handle 40 amps, so if you are not going to use an 80 amp HPWC, you probably don't need the second charger.
  • edited November -1
    Interesting tidbit: http://www.teslamotors.com/support/supercharging

    Are AC (J1772) connectors available at each Supercharger station?
    There are AC (J1772) connectors at some sites. We recommend using http://www.recargo.com to find the nearest AC charging source, or check the relevant Supercharger site webpage.
  • edited November -1
    I would guess if there are J1772s colocated it's a coincidence and not Tesla's doing.
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