Elon Musk has mentioned that the use of Superchargers will be free for owners of ALL (future) Tesla EV models (S, X, Gen3, etc.)

Elon Musk has mentioned that the use of Superchargers will be free for owners of ALL (future) Tesla EV models (S, X, Gen3, etc.)

I remember having heard him say that in one of his interview's.

But I just cannot remember which particular interview that was (must be several interviews actually).

Therefore I would like some help of you guys to find that particular interview in which we can actually hear him say that.

Thank you for your help

slipdrive | 15 September 2013

I saw in a journal article I think it was a "station battery" in a Japanese neighborhood where they were trying to store solar generated power in the morning for use during the afternoon peak. The thing cost $50K or something... Not a workable scenario by itself...

A forward thinking (there are a few) electric utility company or two should run to Tesla as a partner in SCs and hug them. Economic battery storage is the holy grail of solar power.

bonaire | 15 September 2013

There are better and more appropriate battery solutions already in place for grid stabilization projects but wide-spread usage is decades away for GW type aggregate solutions. A123 was experimenting with some 2MW and larger standby batteries. East Penn Manufacturing is using their UltraBattery (Lead acid + ultra cap combo) with some DoE experimental tests right now and doing well (they make the popular Deka battery and are the nation's largest lead acid auto battery recycler). Grid storage and grid stabilization for frequency and voltage regulation will come along with the right price point.

Gas peaker plants really are not that expensive for the power they generate. The problem is - what happens when the gas runs out eventually?

It will take literally $hundreds of billions to create many GW of standby battery systems with today's technology. But they're all working on it since it is a great solution for intermittancy from wind farms and large solar farms (hundreds to thousands of acres in So. Cal and soon the middle-east who are building multiple GW of solar pv arrays now).

tes-s | 15 September 2013

I don't see the linkage between SCs, buffering, and solar panels.

An SC is a load on the grid.
Solar panels are supply to the grid.
Buffering stores power on the grid.

The grid has all these components already. Why is there an advantage of grouping SC, buffering, and solar panels in one physical location?

Benz | 16 September 2013

The genius aspect of the combination of the technology of the Tesla Motors battery pack on the one hand, and the Supercharger technology on the other hand, is that it enables Elon Musk to sell solar power in an extremely big way. This awesome combination of both technologies will make it eventually possible for him to compete with the players in the energy market. Not many people do realise this yet.

Benz | 16 September 2013

Elon Musk is doing the right thing at the right time, step by step.

Benz | 16 September 2013

But that is a very long term vision (2040/2050).

Brian H | 16 September 2013

Solar City. Sister company, Elon is Chairman there, too. Connect the dots.

Benz | 16 September 2013

There is energy production on the one hand, and there is energy consumption on the other hand.

Benz | 16 September 2013

Elon Musk is building a bridge between energy production and energy consumption.

Haeze | 16 September 2013

People keep quoting "Most people don't drive more than X miles per day" but they keep failing to note, that the number they put in for X is the average day. EVERYONE has a day where they had to run a ton of errands, or that they had to make a trip to a neighboring town for one reason or another. To immediately preclude the possibility of running those errands, or going to a neighboring town without having the ICE backup car, would be foolish.

Sure, long distance road trip travel is still off the table, but those situations are MUCH more rare than the occasional 'day of heavy driving' we all take. In the case of road trips, a rental car makes a lot of sense, not only to avoid range anxiety, but to keep from putting too many miles on your pretty car.

As an example, I live in Colorado Springs, CO. (80 miles south of Denver) If I had the same mentality that "40-50 miles per day is all I drive"... which is essentially true... I would NEVER be able to drive to Denver and back in an electric car that got less than 200 miles on a charge, unless I scheduled a charging stop somewhere in Denver before I came back. Sure, it isn't something I do every day, or even every week, but I do it often enough that renting a car would be ridiculous.

Benz | 16 September 2013


How many times a year renting a car would you not consider being ridiculous? How about once a month, meaning 12 times renting a car per year, would you consider that ridiculous or not?

Benz | 17 September 2013

Back to the balance between solar energy production and consumption. Every day more and more Model Ses are being delivered to customers. That means that more and more Model Ses will charge at the Supercharger locations. That means that more and more kWh's will have to be produced by the solar panels on top of the canopies. But the space on top of the canopies is limited. Therefore, I wonder how will Tesla Motors keep increasing the production of kWh's as time goes by? Will Solar City do that on other locations? Something will have to be done anyhow.

Brian H | 17 September 2013

The SCs are made large and numerous enough to handle peak traffic (Fri & Sun pm). The rest of the week they generate and sell excess power.

Benz | 17 September 2013

To get a good picture about that, we would to make some calculations first.

Suppose that there are 200 Supercharger stations in the US. And all Supercharger stations have canopies with 120 solar panels on each canopy. Then we would have a total of 24,000 solar panels on the roofs of the canopies.

The question then would be: "How many kWh will they produce in a full year"? How about: 1 solar panel produces 250 kWh per year? That would make the total production in 1 year: 24,000 x 250 = 6,000,000 kWh = 6,000 mWh = 6 gWh.

Now, would that be correct (so far)?

I would like to wait with the calculation of the energy consumption part. We will save that for later.

mknewman | 17 September 2013

So has anyone with a non-Supercharger M60 tried pulling into a Supercharger to see what happens when you plug in?

bonaire | 17 September 2013

@Benz Each module will be more than its Watt rating in kWh. Meaning, a 250W module should produce about 270-300 kWh per year.

My own 8.1KW array already hit 9MWh and it was installed last December and I'm on the cloud-rich east-coast. Today is clear and cooler and should see 55 kWh in total. But it is a bell curve - peak output is under or close to 8KW during 11am-1:30pm.

So, my own 8KW array will produce about 11 MWh this year. Just multiply module wattage by 1.2(k) as a guesstimate for kWh produced per module. 250W = ~300kWh

An SC needs to be grid tied since the draw of a few cars will outpace the array and batteries. I just don't see batteries at an SC being viable until their prices drop dramatically. The solar aspect is good for CA since there are more incentives for businesses to install solar but in many other states, SCs do not have Solar at all. It's another reason Walmart stores in California have grabbed the solar bug and installed hundreds of MW of solar on top of their stores. They are using the government incentives to lower their electric bills - they surely don't need it but if money is being given out, why not grab it?

Benz | 17 September 2013


Thanks for your post.

So, actually my calculation of 6 gWh per year is a little conservative. If we multiply that by 1.2 we get a total of 7.2 gWh per year.

The Superchargers will Always be grid tied. Elon Musk has already said that after about 2 to 3 years each Supercharger station will have a canopy with solar panels and a stationary battery pack. The total cost of a Supercharger station therefore is about $300,000.

Now back to my calculation.

Suppose that every Tesla EV that visits a Supercharger station charges 50 kWh. How many times can a Tesla EV be charged with 7.2 gWh? 7,200,000 / 50 = 144,000 times.

If every Tesla EV charges ones a month (12 times in a year), than the production of 7.2 gWh is enough for 12,000 Tesla EV's.

In the second half of 2012 + in the first half of 2013 there have been sold 12,700 Model Ses in the US. OK, not all of them will have Supercharger capability. In Q3 2012 many more Model Ses have been sold in the US. So, I think that we already have passed this 12,000 figure of Tesla Model Ses with Supercharger capability.

My conclusion is that the solar panels on top of the canopies will not be enough. More solar power will have to be produced by Solar City. They shall have to invest in large solar power plants.

Elon Musk has said that they will put more energy in the grid with solar panels, than the their cars will consume from the Supercharger stations, right?

bonaire | 17 September 2013

Estimate 100K times. There are about 15-20% charging losses along with temperature issues in hotter climates (the hotter it gets, the less electricity flows across wiring and the less output from a solar canopy).

Given that all the SCs would work just fine without solar or batteries - the real issue is are the solar canopies really cost-effective or truly a gimmick to incite green feelings.

Solar PV systems lose about 0.5% of their effective output per year and so that has to be part of the thought-process. If the canopies are somewhat flat (ie. 15% tilt or so) then they need occasional maintenance in the form of cleaning, especially in western states where less rain occurs.

PapaSmurf | 17 September 2013

The solar panels do not have to be directly at the SC location.

For Elon's statement to be accurate (driving on sunlight) then all Tesla Motors needs to do is have enough solar panels "somewhere" to completely offset the total SC consumption. I am sure with SolarCity that Tesla can come up with a formula to purchase the equivalent amount of solar energy that they need, then claim that via net metering that Tesla is putting X amount of solar kwh on the grid.

There will be token solar panels mounted on the SCs, for the positive PR image, but not nearly enough to actually power the system.

Just my opinion. The Zombie quote is not meant to be serious. Yeah, if the grid were down you might be able to charge one single Model S from the solar panels that are there, but there is no way that it will be charging at 300 mph.

NKYTA | 17 September 2013

"If every Tesla EV charges ones a month (12 times in a year),"
@Benz, this might be overstating it, depending on how things play out.

If I remember the fuzzy results from this poll of owners, 12 times a year seems high.

Benz | 17 September 2013


OK, no problem. Let's say: "If every Tesla EV charges ones in every 3 months (4 times in a year)". How about that? That is not overstating it, right?

Then we can easily multiply by 3. That would mean: If every Tesla EV charges ones in every 3 months (4 times in a year), than the production of 7.2 gWh is enough for 12,000 x 3 = 36,000 Tesla EV's. Sometime in 2014 (maybe in the summer) that number will be reached. Then what?

And now I will repeat my conclusion again:

My conclusion is that the solar panels on top of the canopies will not be enough. More solar power will have to be produced by Solar City. They shall have to invest in large solar power plants.

Elon Musk has said that they will put more energy in the grid with solar panels, than the their cars will consume from the Supercharger stations, right?

Brian H | 17 September 2013

once not ones
The other factor to take into account is $$. With battery packs, the stations can time-shift and benefit from FIT.
And I think the frequency is too high. SCs are mostly used on weekend trips, and not everyone travels every weekend. And I estimate only about 70% of cars have SC capability.

Benz | 18 September 2013


LOL, that is a funny mistake that I made. Thanks to you my English is getting better and better.

I am afraid that I do not completely understand what you exactly mean by: "The other factor to take into account is $$. With battery packs, the stations can time-shift and benefit from FIT."

Brian H | 18 September 2013

SC might not replace all the power it uses, watt for watt. But if it can save solar power in batteries and sell it to the utility at peak periods (don't know what's contractually possible here), it could make a profit that way.

Brian H | 18 September 2013

Or use the battery stack to "help" at high demand peaks, same result.

bonaire | 18 September 2013

California is tying to figure out the future of the net metering and FIT. There will be a time down the road where the payback of solar will diminish as net metering turns into smart-meter based wholesale selling of generation value only. Wholesale rates go up later in the day's demand cycle.

There was also a WSJ article yeaterday called "a green car named desire" which really shows the imbalance of green fund misuse or "overabundance" in California.

Benz | 18 September 2013


Compared to the total annual production of electricity by the solar panels on top of the canopies, those benefits are little. But ok, it can be a bit more. That does not really matter.

My point is (THE BOTTOM LINE) that there soon will be a day (sometime in 2014) as from which day the consumption of energy by the Model Ses at the Supercharger stations (on an annual basis) will be more than that total annual solar energy production by the solar panels on the top of the canopies (on an annual basis). And therefore, more solar energy production capacity will be required (as from that day), if Elon Musk wants to stick to the claim that more energy will be produced by solar and added to the grid than the Tesla EV's will consume in a year. That's my point.

Benz | 18 September 2013

I guess that we will have to wait to see what will happen and how this will develop in the next few years when (almost) all Supercharger stations will be ready and will be equiped with a stationary battery pack and a canopy with solar panels on it?

bonaire | 18 September 2013

Benz: "Elon Musk wants to stick to the claim that more energy will be produced by solar and added to the grid than the Tesla EV's will consume in a year"

You mean from the Superchargers specifically. Not at their homes or offices or using public J1772 infrastructure, correct?

That's not really a good claim to make in general. He's saying that he needs to manage and monitor draw versus SC solar production and balance them out and then go back to the claim and resolve perception. By then, people will have forgotten the claim. But it sounded good at the time.

I would never claim that as if the SCs get busy in the evenings or cloudy days or just are very busy, SCTY will need to setup nearby "community solar farms" offsite from the SCs. It's "marketing altruistic" but seems unrealistic. When a car can draw up to 80 kWh in an hour (or more) from one SC socket and if the systems are used a lot then you need a lot of Solar. The SCs in my area (CT, DE) do not have any solar associated with them.

Benz | 18 September 2013


"You mean from the Superchargers specifically."

Yes, that is correct.

Elon Musk made that claim for the first time when he unveiled the Supercharger stations in September 2012. You can still watch the video on the Tesla Motors website.

AmpedRealtor | 18 September 2013

I'm not quite sure why this solar panel thing is even an issue? Even if all of the power is not provided by solar, at least some of it is. Whether it is or it isn't doesn't really matter, does it?

jandkw | 18 September 2013

I owned the S60 for 6 months now and didn't mind paying the $2K for "supercharging". The real issue is living in NC, we have no SC in sight. The closest SC is in Newark which is 374 miles away. Other than the pictures, I never touched or saw what the SC look like. Heard the Californians in the forum complained about not enough SC in their neighborhood and all, I wish I can find just one in my neighborhood. I went to a Conference for the Labor Day weekend and on the way, I stopped by a Nissan dealer for charging and it was ridiculously slow and after 1 hour I gave up and decided to use the regular outlet for overnight charging. This is what I paid my $2000 for so far and I wish Tesla can start charging $2000 for the new S60 owners when the SC is available in their neighborhood, just a thought.

sharpe222 | 18 September 2013

jandkw-building in North Carolina right now according to supercharger thread, so atleat you will have saved 500 instead of turning them on once they are ready.

Benz | 19 September 2013

In Q4 2013 you will see more Supercharger stations popping up in states along the US East Coast.

Brian H | 19 September 2013

Yes, it matters to Solar City, which is paying for the electricity.

Brian H | 19 September 2013

Stations without canopies will eventually get them. There's no panic; the costs are not yet significant. I doubt if the imbalance is more than a few $00/station/day yet, at most.

Benz | 19 September 2013

Before 2020 most of all the Supercharger stations will be equiped with stationary battery packs and with canopies with solar panels on them.

bonaire | 19 September 2013

Benz - why do they need batteries exactly?

(explain it in your own knowledge and not the one or two sentences Musk said) It really is not a prudent move to do batteries at the SC's. But it is a good marketing statement.

Benz | 19 September 2013

Elon Musk talked about it during the Conference Call of the Supercharger announcement in May, 2013. A stationary battery pack is one of the plans he has for the future functionality of Supercharger stations.

bent | 19 September 2013

The battery packs are for the zombie apocalypse. With the grid cut off and non-uniform arrival of survivor-filled Model S's at the super charger, the solar power will need to be stored up locally while there's no one there to charge and then discharged from the batteries when there's lots of cars there (more than the panels could handle).

bonaire | 19 September 2013

bent - what size, in kWh will these batteries be? This is all hyperbole and meant to sound good but is fiscally unsound. Is zombie apocalypse in the business plan? You need about 100 kWh of batteries per car per full charge. It takes 20 KW of solar running all day to full 100kWh on a good sun day. Undoubtably, this is just a sound bite that now has too many legs associated with it. Most people don't understand what the battery component actually means.

bent | 19 September 2013

Well, more seriously then, if they can get the batteries at a reasonable price (and if anyone can, Tesla can) then they would be useful for buffering up electricity from the solar panels at times when the spot price for selling them into the grid is poor. They can then instead sell the electricity at peak times when the price is good. On the flip side, when there's a lot of charging going on and they need to buy power off the grid to cover demand they can start by using power from the batteries that was purchased when electricity was cheap.

They could even do some basic arbitration by filling the batteries from the grid when power is cheap, and selling it back when it's expensive. This is made more complicated by Teslas arriving to get charged of course but might still be doable.

Obviously the maths need to work out for this to make sense, and if they don't then Tesla won't go for this just yet.

I don't remember anyone giving hard numbers for how much battery capacity would be installed on a typical super charger.

Benz | 19 September 2013


"I don't remember anyone giving hard numbers for how much battery capacity would be installed on a typical super charger."

The answer to your question is: 500 kWh. Elon Musk said this during Q&A of the Conference Call at the Supercharger announcement in May 2013.

Brian H | 20 September 2013

Power outages, and buffering in high demand spikes, plus storing power off the grid at cheapest TOU rates.

tes-s | 20 September 2013

How does storing 500kWh make any difference, other than some momentary buffering? At about 10 charges, it is not enough to store power from lower overnight rates to have any meaningful impact on daytime charges.

I can see where you have 10 stalls (600kW max load) and the grid connection is limited to 400kW, a buffer would allow it to average 400kW while spiking to 600kW. But not sure how that would justify the cost of 500kWh of storage.

As far a selling power at prime rates by buffering with batteries, I do not see the linkage to SCs. If someone wants to generate power (solar for example) and use batteries to store that power to sell back at more opportune times, why not do it at a location independent of the SCs? Surely SC location considerations are different than a solar/battery power generation location considerations.

Drifting off topic a bit, but how would it be possible to pay for batteries with the difference in electric rate from solar, particularly when peak solar generation is pretty well aligned with peak electric rates already? And why wouldn't a utility simply install batteries on the grid to acheive the same thing?

SamO | 20 September 2013

It has been discussed on the TMC forums that the swap batteries might be used as the buffer batteries. And the grid backup always has the same volume/kWhs in batteries.

Time of Use (TOU) and varying rate arbitrage allows the subsidizing the costs of the system (which are very modest.)


200 US Superchargers $150K - $250K = $50,000,000

200 Solar Canopies $150K = $30,000,000

Battery swap/buffer = 500kWh x $250/kWh = $125,000/SC = $25,000,000


Swap $60 each


Benz | 21 September 2013

There is a charging technology reason as well. A charge rate of 120 kWh is not the top of the mountain. A higher charge rate will be possible in the future. And to achieve this Tesla Motors will add stationary battery packs to the Supercharger stations. But that is still a few years from now. The question is what will those stationary battery packs be made of (chemical/mechanical/electrical/software engineering). Anyhow, more super high-tech and interesting stuff can be expected from Elon Musk and his co-workers. And I am already looking forward to it.

tes-s | 21 September 2013

@SamoSam - Aren't there other costs as well to your scenario?

200 swap stations $3,000,000 (construction, robotic mechanism) = $600,000,000
10,000 Tesla batteries (50 per swap station) $20,000 = $200,000,000

That would add $800M to your $100M estimate - but we could subtract out the $25M you put in for battery buffer and use the batteries in the swap station for that.

@Benz - Tesla seems to top out around 90kW on the chargers now, so they still need to find out how to turn it up by 1/3 just to get to 120 kW charging. And that is for when a battery is less than 75% charged - the last 25% is slower than that and will remain a challenge. But I think that is why they have 2 stalls per 120kW charger, and with a large location like Gilroy there will always be cars pulling in and out (not in use) and near the top (using less than max charge).

I don't see residential EV's being a big deal for the electric grid or for electric generation. I figure if I were 100% electric my electric consumption would be 30% higher. With residential electric being 34% of total electric usage in the US, that would be a 10% electric increase if all residential was 100% electric.

By the time that happens, there will be a lot more solar distributed around the grid and in residential areas; EV charging can be an interruptible load (or even reversible) to balance the grid (built-in batteries on the grid - no need to add more).

SamO | 21 September 2013


Where did you get the cost of swap is $3,000,000/station ?

Under your scenario with 50 85 kWh packs you would have each swap backup at 4.25MW of backup

That's much higher than had ever previously been disclosed.

I also assumed universal swap which is not consistent with Elon's prediction of putting them in Hugh traffic areas.

tes-s | 21 September 2013

@SamoSam - I made up the $3M number. I figured the cost of land, construction, electric hookup and gear, and robotics to handle the movement of the batteries would run at least that much.

If a swap takes 90 seconds, I figured 25 swaps in a peak hour. If they charge 10 simultaneously that would require 1mW power feed (100kWh to charge including loss). In 3 hours they would charge 30 and give out 75, using 45 from charged inventory.

So, take a high-traffic area like Gilroy, which would have a swap station and 16 supercharger stalls. At peak time, they would need a 2mW power feed (8X120kw for the SCs, and 1mW for the swap - and that is using the buffer from 50 85kWh packs.

In 3 hours with 2mW draw from the grid, they could charge 48 cars in the SC stalls, and 80 in the battery swap (50 from charged inventory, and 30 that got charged in the 3 hours). At the end of the 3 hours the swap station would require 5 hours at 1mW to charge the 50 depleted batteries assuming no swaps.

128 cars in 3 hours is the capacity of a small gasoline station that has 6 pumps, and it can operate continuously at that rate. The "steady state" for this swap station scenario is 10/hr with a 10 battery buffer. That could be increased to 20/hr if we give the swap station a 2mW feed.