Supercharger Availability

Supercharger Availability

Up until a long road trip to Atlanta from DC for Thanksgiving I've only had to use a Supercharger a handful of times and usually was the only one at them (even around Richmond, VA where I've gone twice to an 18 stall supercharger on a couple of mid-range trips) so was interested to see my experience on the trip to Atlanta. I stayed off of 95 and took Rt. 29 to 85 to get from Northern VA to Atlanta.

The first stop was in Charlottesville at their 8 stall supercharger. Just one other car there on the way down at around 9 AM on Tuesday and three at 5 PM on Saturday after Thanksgiving.

The second stop was in Greesnboro, NC at another 8 stall supercharger. On Tuesday around noon there were four cars there, but two stalls did not work so there were two open chargers. On the way home there were 9 cars there when I arrived (again around noon on Saturday), but with the two broken chargers had to get in line and wait about 15 minutes.

The final stop was in Greenville, NC right off of Rt. 85 around 4 PM (which I thought would be the busiest location being right next to the busy highway) and for the 8 stalls only about 4 four taken on the way down and just a couple of the way back.

So all in all not much issue with them being too crowded (and all were smaller 8 stall ones) with the exception of the Greensboro one on the Saturday return, but that was because of two broken stalls.

My question for the board is what has your experience been on trips along major routes with superchargers? Have you had to wait long or are stalls usually open? My concern is that as each quarter goes by and more Teslas are sold (esp as Model Y comes out) that the superchargers are going to start to become completely full along these routes and wait times will increase. it doesn't look like there are too many planned in the near future in this part of the country so hoping Musk has plans to potentially expand existing ones.

rsingh05 | December 4, 2019

I dont think anyone can predict how traffic will grow and how exactly Tesla will address the growth. However, here are some data points:

1) I've been using superchargers for over a year along the busiest routes in California, as well as one ~4k mile trip to Canada over the July 4th weekend. Up until this Thanksgiving, I never had to wait for a S/C stall with 2 exceptions where I waited 5-10 minutes. Even on Thanksgiving day, I waited 15-20 minutes at SLO, and at Atascadero. On the same dates, I had zero wait at Salinas, for example - most stalls were open.

2) Even this Thanksgiving, Tesla is experimenting with new approaches like a Semi based mobile supercharger. This means that they recognize the issue and are coming up with creative ways to address it.

3) Literally any other mode of travel will have delays - think of thousands of passengers delayed because of flight cancellations over the weekend.

Tronguy | December 4, 2019

Been bombing up and down I95 and the area from Boston to South Carolina, what with relatives and vacations. The only crowded SC I've seen is the one in Framingham, MA. We've been lucky each time we've used the thing and went in and charged, but twice over the past 12 months or so there's been a line when we left.
Let's see: Outside of that one, we've used four others in MA, CT, and NY, and there's always been relatively few when we happened to bomb on by.
We happen to live in Central Jersey; within about 10 miles of here there's four (!) supercharger locations, two with 8, one with 4, and another with 16. Out of curiosity I check the fill on these; the one in Edison gets full, rarely. Even during Thanksgiving it never got really full.
On the way to and from South Carolina The SC's were never full; but the one at the airport for Savannah was kind of a disappointment, since one had to pay to enter the parking log where the things were located.
I expect that as more and more Tesla's hit the road more SC's will have to be built. And the area around 95 in Boston is crying out for a few, since there seems to be some downtown, some 20 miles away, but hardly any in the belt around the city where most people live.

gballant4570 | December 4, 2019

I have never waited to charge at a Tesla charging station. On one occasion, I used the last available stall and witnessed others come in and then wait. The line while I was watching only held one waiter, and that wait was not longer than a few minutes.

However, I do not charge away from home very often. I've used Tesla charging perhaps a dozen times in 14 months.

EVRider | December 4, 2019

Most of my supercharging has been on 3 road trips from FL to New England. I’ve never had to wait for a supercharger. Although there have been more Teslas charging on my most recent trip than in the past, there were still cases where I was the only one, especially on the southern half of the trip. I was not traveling around holidays, so it might be busier then.

Sparky | December 4, 2019

If you look at you'll see the build out as it happens. The good thing is that, although there are a few saturation points in the system, the build out elsewhere seems to be ahead of demand and keeping up.

GHammer | December 4, 2019

In 80,000 miles of road trips, 30,000 in the last year, twice cross country and multiple times to LA, SF, Las Vegas and Vancouver BC, I have only waited a handful of times and never more than 5 minutes. Last month I visited 32 different locations in a single day along I95 from VA to NJ and didn't wait a single location.

posinator | December 4, 2019

Most of my Supercharging has been along the I15 from San Diego to Salt Lake City. 5 or 6 round trips at least. I think I've used most of them, and the only one that was ever full was in Beaver when it only had 4 stalls. Now it has 8 or 10. That night, I skipped Beaver and went on to Richfield. I really want the V3 Las Vegas charger to be fully operational.

apodbdrs | December 4, 2019

I drove about 6,000 miles in the last four months, and not once did I have to wait for Tesla supercharger on the road. I did however, once while staying in Las Vegas had to wait at Supercharger with 8 units at a shopping center during rush hour, but that was about it. My travels were on the west coast and southwest U.S. Overall, in a the last 18 month very little or no waits anywhere. Plenty of superchargers, but need more as more Tesla cars are coming on board.

apodbdrs | December 4, 2019

Forgot, to mention I do most of my charging at home, which I think most of you do; so charging is not the same as filling up at a gas station, after all how many ICE drivers have a gas pump at home.

FISHEV | December 4, 2019

"My question for the board is what has your experience been on trips along major routes with superchargers?"

The ones in highly populated ares will tend to be full now with charging limited to 80% due to high usage and typically a higher number of stalls down. Vancouver WA yesterday and two cords were tied up. I tried both, they didn't work. I put them back in the holster as Tesla asks that if it doesn't work, put in holster otherwise they cannot see it remotely.

I call when I find non-working chargers because Tesla doesn't see them. I'll call about non functional stall and it will be news to Tesla and then they write a repair ticket. So the chargers don't seem to sell report that well. So hit the T and call when you find down chargers.

The SC that is a bit isolated on they way to Hood is always open but even at that location usally one or two other Teslas.

casun | December 4, 2019

FISHEV is a known troll who pushes an anti Tesla narrative. Please take his opinions with a grain of salt, avoid any advice he may suggest, and, do not let him implant any Fear, Uncertainty, or, Doubt about Tesla or your car into your own opinion.

vmulla | December 4, 2019

That's an awesome question. Thanks for asking.

The best answer to it was given by a guy called Elon Musk ;) You see, in one of the speeches he said that his focus is going to be building a better charging network and better service network - because he says people aren't stupid, and wouldn't buy cars if that's not handled well. I'll try to find the video (others can help me here) That's a simple clear indication of his focus on addressing your concern.

Back to your question, I've used the Tesla Superchargers for 4yrs now and saw the fleet grow - I have not seen congestion problems worth talking about. I think it's a bit different story on the West coast, but that's because of crazy growth in Tesla ownership - it's not because Tesla isn't trying hard to address the growth challenge.

Now let me try to find that video clip.

tanуa | December 4, 2019

@Sparky Nice, thanks!

CRAIGJFIFTY3 | December 4, 2019

This thread brought to mind the times when I would try to fill up my cars at the rest areas on the NJT. Almost always had long lines to gas up. Took about as long as super charging, except that you have to stay in your car and wait. I’ll never miss that.
As to the OPs question, I’ve only been using one supercharger for the past 6 months ( 5000 free SC miles) and most of the time it’s pretty empty. One recent Saturday evening , 5ish, it was almost full. Timing is everything.

Bighorn | December 4, 2019

Drive 5200 miles over the holidays and didn’t ever wait. One of the superchargers on the I-90 route across South Dakota didn’t get plowed, so I could tell that there was never more than one car there over the holiday weekend i.e.previous 4 days. Certain people have been predicting impending gloom and doom for the last 5 years.

Bighorn | December 4, 2019


casun | December 5, 2019

the only supercharger ive ever waited at was the qualcomm supercharger in san diego, because it was free.

hokiegir1 | December 5, 2019

In the southeast, I've never waited, but been the last or next to last arrival a few times. Some of our busier stations are being expanded (additional stalls added), and additional stations have been brought online -- some of which, while not necessarily close to the others, take the load off by splitting long distances so people don't need to stay as long (ie: Metter cutting the distance between Macon and Savannah where people with smaller batteries had to stay at Savannah until almost 100%).

rdh37 | December 5, 2019

Used a supercharger maybe 15 times in the last year. All times on the I-95 corridor between DC and NYC. One small wawa location in North Jersey that I like to use (as it fits with my battery range) is often crowded and slow but I have never had to wait. Once, I think, I had to skip it because it showed as full but I had more than enough range to reach the next one. If I charge to full and drive conservatively, I probably could, in nice weather, make the entire trip with one short, maybe 10 min stop. However, I usually make two stops and charge close to 80% each time. It is more convenient for me and allows me to arrive in NYC with 50 or 60%. This is useful as I use a 110v when I arrive at my destination. Have a nice day.

SalisburySam | December 5, 2019

Between Charlotte, NC and Detroit, MI on several trips no waiting at any of the SuperChargers except one co-located at a Sheetz (in their words, a “kicked-up convenience store”) where the slots are shared for parking. It was totally ICE’d. Fortunately, most shoppers are there for short periods and I was able to charge after about 15 minutes.

Devilstower | December 5, 2019

One thing that concerns me is that low traffic at some chargers may be leading to Tesla not building up in the right spots. For example, going east out of St. Louis, there's a charger 90 miles away at Mt. Vernon, IL where I've rarely encountered more than 2 other cars. But the next charger along the line is all the way in Louisville, KY -- literally out of range for my SR+ unless I limp along <60 mph. A charger has been scheduled for Evansville, IN for three years now, but they haven't even issued a permit. I worry that chargers like the one at Mt. Vernon are self-fulfilling prophecies. Telsa looks at it, thinks need in the area is low, and drops the priority on additional chargers ... but it's the lack of additional chargers that are the problem.

WardT | December 5, 2019

There were some videos online showing the lines of Teslas waiting to charge in central California and out on the coast over the Thanksgiving weekend. The wait looked to be in the 1 hour range. It seems likely sales will outpace the SC network for Tesla and even more so for all other major car companies selling EVs. I also expect since Tesla has all the info on our vehicles & SC, Tesla knows or can figure out how many SC spots are open and how many Teslas are waiting in line to charge. For example, if a Tesla is not moving, near a SC with a low battery charge, they are probably waiting in line to charge. Seems like it would be possible to include SC availability in the trip calculations to compute the best place to charge up. Call it load leveling of the SC use. The trip “optimizer” might recommend charging up a little sooner at a less crowded SC to avoid a long wait time at another SC. I wouldn’t be surprised if Tesla already has something in the works for a software strategy to minimize wait time for congested times of the year. I usually charge up at home and have waited for a SC twice in the 1.5 years of ownership. I’m going from LA to Tucson at Christmas and do not expect to have much issue with wait times at SC.

Effopec | December 5, 2019

Most of my charging has been in Texas. Never had to wait. Once pulled into the Waco SC when full but as I circled around a guy flagged me down as he was heading back to his car to leave. This one may be unusually busy with locals because it is free. Lindale and Italy have each been empty every time I've stopped at those ones.

I drive from Dallas to northern Michigan about once a year. Haven't done it in the 3 yet because no matter which route I take I need to either hit up a Level 2 or go over an hour out of my way to cover some gaps. I will either go through Arkansas from 40 to 55 where it is too far between Little Rock and Miner MO, even in my LR. The other route is up US75 through Oklahoma to I44, but I need to go west to OK City to make it going that way. There's been upcoming SC's on Tesla's map for each of these routes for over 2 years but they aren't there yet.

LostInTx | December 5, 2019

I see zero F, U, or D in Fish's response.

As for SC availability, I've charged maybe 25 times at various locations in Texas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Colorado and Arizona and the only time I've had to wait is at the I-35 location in Austin. At that location, I've waited every.. single.. time.. Once for 30 minutes. A second SC is now opened in Austin, albeit on the far northwest side.

I transport several keys of Columbian Pure from Houston to Laredo every few weeks and have never had a problem finding an SC in the Rio Grande Valley - the Laredo SC has an Embassy Suites and a nice steakhouse within a few feet.

LostInTx | December 5, 2019

Sorry - meant Colombian..

Bighorn | December 5, 2019

Funny, I count at least four pieces of FUD aka lies about supercharging by our resident asstroturfer, but I’ve only supercharged in 47 states. Never had to wait at the old Austin site, though the new site by Hollywood Feed gets a lot of action. When I crossed at Nuevo Laredo, border patrol had never seen a Tesla. Didn’t even know about the frunk. Muahaha! Muahaha!

slasher0016 | December 5, 2019

Louisville supercharger was a mess the Saturday after Thanksgiving. 3-deep line at pretty much all times I was there. Waited about 40 mins and charged about 40 mins... and I only needed about 140 miles. The charge rate was disastrous. Maxed at 40kW (under 10% range at start.) And yes, my battery was preheated and I had been driving for hours before that.

The whole rest of the trip I didn't wait at all. Part of me wonders if it was more of an issue with supercharger performance there than anything. Everyone seemed to be getting awful charge rates.

Bighorn | December 5, 2019

You might have been getting the short end of the 75/25 share. It should have improved as your charging partner tapered. This is why they’re switching to faster, unpaired 250 kW charging pedestals.

bjrosen | December 5, 2019

slasher0016@ The power source at Supercharger sites is oversubscribed by design, there isn't enough power to run all of the chargers at full rate simultaneously. Under normal conditions this isn't a problem, when I've stopped at Superchargers there have never been more than two other cars there. As long as you pick a stall that doesn't have the adjacent stall occupied then you can charge at full rate. They wire the stalls in pairs, if both chargers in a pair are in use they reduce the charge rate on those chargers. To handle a burst of demand at some superchargers they cache electricity in batteries which allows the chargers to supply current at a rate that exceeds the maximum current of the grid connection but this only works until the backup batteries are empty, after that the maximum rate is determined by the grid connection. That's what you saw on Thanksgiving, all of the stalls were fully occupied all day so the backup batteries were empty, the 40KW number is just the grid connection/number of stalls.

apodbdrs | December 5, 2019

Any concern on availability can be easily check by bringing up all the supercharges within a 300 mile range on your screen, it will show "red bars" for those in use, etc.

F.vanalstine | December 5, 2019

I did a 4000 mile round trip from Minnesota to Arizona last August. Route out was west to Black Hills, south to Trinidad, CO and they west to Flagstaff. Route home was north through western Colorado, through Flaming Gorge to Wyoming, then east and northeast through northern Black Hills, and back home across South Dakota.

Did about 20 supercharger stops along the way. Only saw another Tesla at a charger five times on the whole trip! Midwest is still Tesla scarce.

Mike UpNorth_ | December 5, 2019

The one supercharger I use on our drive up north.....I'm always happy if there's even 1 car there charging. Get a chance to chat with a fellow enthusiast :) But most times I'm all alone :( waaa

Mike UpNorth_ | December 5, 2019

The one supercharger I use on our drive up north.....I'm always happy if there's even 1 car there charging. Get a chance to chat with a fellow enthusiast :) But most times I'm all alone :( waaa

cmh95628 | December 5, 2019

@slasher said: I only needed about 140 miles. The charge rate was disastrous. Maxed at 40kW (under 10% range at start.) And yes, my battery was preheated and I had been driving for hours before that.

@Bighorn said: You might have been getting the short end of the 75/25 share. It should have improved as your charging partner tapered.

I want to understand this 75/25 share better. I assume you mean percentages. If both cars are able to take 100%, would not the share be 50/50? Slasher said his car was at 10% SOC and preheated, so I expect he can charge at 100% of any super charger under those conditions. TIA.

Daryl | December 5, 2019

@cmh95628 "I want to understand this 75/25 share better. I assume you mean percentages. If both cars are able to take 100%, would not the share be 50/50? "

No. The first car connected to a pair gets the lion's share of the power. I hadn't heard that it is 75-25, but that seems about right. The second car's current will increase as the first car tapers off.

If the first car then leaves, you become the first car and get full current until another car connects, when you might get cut back to 75%.

jallred | December 5, 2019

My understanding is this:

First car there gets 75%. When first car tapers below 50% it will go 50/50.

It's faster for both cars to charge one car fast while it will take it and then give it to the other one to go fast.
Splitting 50/50 would be slower.

I could be wrong and would listen to Bighorn as the ultimate resource.

FISHEV | December 5, 2019

As you hit urban centers SC's you can start to run into issues of crowding, chargers off line and low charge rates.

For example, today at the Vancouver WA SC, the Tesla App was saying 4/12 available at 7A but when I got there 10 were available (lights on) and two cars were charging so it should have said 10/12 available.

I plugged into 1A, full power 140kW.

I called Tesla while I was charging to tell them about the two that down and literally out and the discrepancy between the app and the chargers. They put in a ticket on it. This SC had major issues and major rebuild Oct 3 and already we have two down.

A traveler (or even one of the regulars at this high usage SC) might change their charging plans thinking the app was correct when, in fact, there were 10/12 functional and 7/10 available.

So always call and report down stalls. While the Tesla boilerplate voice mail says "We know" they typically do not know when you call and you'll be the first to report it.

Also if it doesn't work for you, still put the charger back in the holster. Tesla told us that they can't see status on chargers unless it is in a car or in the holster.

lbowroom | December 5, 2019

"the Tesla App was saying 4/12 available at 7A but when I got there 10 were available"

How is that an example of the sentence above in your post?

jallred | December 5, 2019

Tesla told us that they can't see status on chargers unless it is in a car or in the holster. - fish

You have a reference for this?

vmulla | December 5, 2019

I had several helpful Tesla owners point me to the best performing charger of the lot, and I did the same when possible. I wish sometime in the future Tesla guides the drivers to the best stall.

Bighorn | December 5, 2019

I’ll over simplify. Suppose a supercharger can provide 140 kW. If two cars arrive together, the car that plugs in first at an AB pair will take 105 kW (75%) and the slower will take the remaining 35 kW. When the first car arrives on the taper curve where the most they can take is 70 kW, then the two cars will share 50/50, or 70 kW a piece. When the first car only can tale 35 kW, the second could take 105 kW, but it’s unlikely that the second car will be able to take that much power as it’s already filled significantly by then.

As an aside, the car’s central screen SC status report of how many stalls are in use is very often inaccurate. Do not call about such trivia as it helps no one.

andy | December 5, 2019

The superchargers around London were all packed this evening. I was lucky in that a traffic hold up had me arrive at the one at the bottom of the A1 just as space cleared.

The problem we have is that the one half up the M1, in the Midlands, hasn’t been built yet and that only leaves Northampton as you leave all London, unless you charge earlier. Other sites are on the southbound carriageway and Northampton has limited space.

With the Model 3 selling so well a big expansion in UK infrastructure will be needed.

Glad to have a LR Model 3 as I can do the length of the M1 from the M25 in winter temps using 70% charge. A SR+, without the planned supercharger at Leicester, would not have been a good journey.

FISHEV | December 5, 2019

"Tesla told us that they can't see status on chargers unless it is in a car or in the holster. - fish. You have a reference for this?"

Just a local Tesla employee who uses the Vancouer SC regularly. She was there when the repair guy showed up to rebuild the VC charger. It's a he said/she said but she said he said to put the cords back in the holster otherwise Tesla cannot see them. We were all looping them over the chargers so others wouldn't pull in an find out it was not working. Tesla should put an info card on the front of the chargers with what they want people to do when it doesn't work.

The gist of the repair's guys advice was:
1. Put back in holster. Wait 60 seconds and retry.
2. Move to another charger if that doesn't work.
3. Call Tesla and report it. Even though the recording says don't call just for charger down as Tesla can see it. Everytime I called it was news to them. She said/he said they are pretty short staffed in the SC dept, one repair guy for WA, OR and parts of N.CA and Idaho. Chances of them knowing what is not working seems slim. Can't hurt to have customers calling...squeaky motor gets the amps.

Bighorn | December 5, 2019

FUD check

Don’t call the call center in Draper, UT about charging stalls. These are the folks that are going to help in emergency road side assistance situations. Don’t distract them from their critical mission just as they’ve instructed us not to. Tesla can look at the recent history of each pedestal and see the charging speed people have been getting. Holstering a charging cord does nothing either to reset the charger nor to report back to Tesla central about its status. If a stall doesn’t work, move to another one. Based on charging at 784 different superchargers, most multiple times, and never having gotten stuck without a charge.

FISHEV | December 5, 2019

"Don’t call the call center in Draper, UT about charging stalls. These are the folks that are going to help in emergency road side assistance situations.

FUD check as there is a choice on the help line for "Charging Issues" and you will be thanked by Tesla for reporting the problems. "Mission Critical" is a bit grandiose for car chargers.

Each time I've called they did not know the chargers were down. Today for example where Tesla app says 8 offline but site had just two offline. People who say they never had the problems or experience calling Tesla about down chargers they never see are likely not up on how to deal with it.

But this was just a couple Tesla employees, one the main/sole repair person for WA/OR and another one of the Tesla sales people. Now they could get it wrong but more likely they are correct. But who knows which is why it would be good for Tesla to be more transparent on this.

I'll go by what the Tesla employees said until I hear othewise.

Magic 8 Ball | December 5, 2019

There are only two places for the plug to go. In the holster or plugged in the car. It does not matter if the pedestal can detect the holster. Telling people to loop cords was/is ridiculous.

FISHEV | December 5, 2019

"Telling people to loop cords was/is ridiculous."

It's OK. Nice thing to do for fellow Tesla drivers but then everyone loses track of when it was offline and Tesla says it can't see it if not plugged into holster or car.

I put them back in holster when I see it, like today, but I always call Tesla and report it.

cmh95628 | December 5, 2019

Thanks to all who explained the 75/25 split and how it works. News to me. I rarely use SCs.

Magic 8 Ball | December 5, 2019

No it is not OK, the cords either plug into the car or they go in the holster.

FISHEV | December 5, 2019

"Thanks to all who explained the 75/25 split and how it works. News to me. I rarely use SCs."

Take away point, if you pull into an SC, it's considered good charging etiquette to not pair up if you can help it. If 1A is taken, don't use 1B for example. We had a funny scene at Woodburn SC the other night, four of us ended up on the end because it is set up 1A,2A,3A,4A and then the 1B's in row. A bit counter intuitive. You have to look at the labels on the charger to see how Tesla did that SC.