Owning a Tesla in an urban area

Owning a Tesla in an urban area

Hi all,
As an engineering student, I recognize and share great interest in the work engineers at Tesla are currently doing to develop a product like the Model S. However, living in a urban area, and thinking of purchasing a Model S in the near future. I have a hard time finding a solution to owning a Model S in an urban area. For Tesla to expand their customer market, they must find a solution to charging your vehicle in an urban area. For example, people like me, who live in apartments will never buy a Tesla because they would not be able to charge their cars. As of 2011, about 250 million Americans live in or around urban areas. So all these people will miss out on the opportunity to own an electric car due to the restriction of them not being able to charge their cars. So, I wanted to know if Tesla has a plan in place to solve this issue for urban areas when they create a more economically affordable "model S", or if anyone has a possible solution to this problem?

negarholger | September 22, 2013

I live in an urban area and have no problems to charge my car in the garage. I think you are talking about apartment dwellers... that has been discussed many times.

grega | September 22, 2013

250 million americans park on the street, and all of these people won't be able to charge their car...

I think that's quite a stretch....

Timo | September 22, 2013

Not necessary on street, but in parking lot without electric plug anywhere near. More than 50% of world population live in cities. This is a real problem unless there is a solution that can be applied in city without putting charging poles pretty much everywhere.

My favorite solution would be inductive charging under pavement for apartment parking lot (doesn't need to be fast, just same as plugging in standard electric plug). Needs some sort of funding/financing in apartment level instead of individual level though. Red tape nightmare I guess.

negarholger | September 22, 2013

There are 254 million cars registered in the US and 250 million park in the street? I would believe you in Europe or Asia, but for US you are off. Keep the claims real.

Timo | September 23, 2013

Only person here claiming that 250 million people park on streets is grega. Are you telling him to keep his claims real? Even that he says "I think that's quite a stretch...."

grega | September 23, 2013

I was in a good mood, and was just responding to the "250 million americans live in urban areas and will miss out on the opportunity to own an electric car because they can't charge them" comment :)

To get serious though, my previous apartment had a very small garage that was hard enough to get into that we never used it. If street parking hadn't been so close and easy I might have used it to get my wife's car into it, but my turning circle couldn't do it. Totally stupid setup. So we would have been people who couldn't charge.

I think that Tesla has to follow Apple's example. Most companies try to make something that's okay for 70% of people, and quite good for 30% - Apple tries to make something that 50% of people will find brilliant for them, but are willing to ignore 20% of the market. Those 20% are disappointed, but competition brings alternatives.

Tesla has made an EV that is better than an ICEV for a specific portion of the market, and it's making it clear that it can go much further. Next comes an SUV crossover, and then a cheaper car. But they can't solve every example where an EV doesn't live up to an ICEV, so best to focus on those that it can really win at.

More superchargers will come. Cheap charging at parking stations while you're at work will come. As I understand it in the US you have power bins every 4 houses or so too (due to 110v), so there are possibilities there. The industry will be better served with general solutions than Telstra specific ones, and it's not a battle Telstra needs to fight (yet).

stevenmaifert | September 23, 2013

Most urban areas have plenty of commercial L2 chargers scattered about. If you can't charge at your apartment/condo but are willing to put up with the inconvenience of charging somewhere else, EV ownership is still doable. The thing about ModS is that, unless you have a long daily commute, the battery capacity is large enough that you don't have to charge every day.

SamCornwell | September 23, 2013

Just an idea, but how about a small battery pack that you could take into your apartment to charge? One that would provide 25 miles for emergencies?

It could be handy also for people who take wrong turnings and run out of charge (we've all done it in a gasoline car, so I suppose it's possible in an EV.)

negarholger | September 23, 2013

the small battery pack would weigh 100 to 130 lbs.

Brian H | September 23, 2013

"Telstra specific ones" Who dat?

kpal525 | September 23, 2013

Maybe I was wrong about the number, 250 million, but we are still talking in the millions. Alot of people dont have parking garage near their houses especially if they live in apartments. In addition, from what I read, Tesla's long term goal is to create Evs that will eventually replace gasoline powered cars, and the only way i see it happening is if they tackle this issue. I understand the model S has a long range but eventually, you're going to need to charge it.
The issue isnt where to find charging, the issue is the convenience of charging an Ev. One could always go to Tesla superchargers and charge their batteries in 20 to 40 mins. But will this be enough to make people switch from their gasoline powered cars that takes less then 5 mins to fuel.

Btw I'm a huge fan of Tesla and their work. I'm not saying there is anything wrong with Evs, but this is a real issue and a huge challenge that needs to be address by this company.

To provide a solution, I think people in urban areas can really use the Tesla battery swap program. It is just as convenient as fueling a car. However it is too expensive currently to do so if this is the only option. I think if the cost of swamping batteries and the cost of charging your car at home is in the same range, this might fix the problem.

Timo | September 23, 2013

I think we need infrastructures in cities to charge while driving. Seriously, at every busy intersection with traffic lights there could be a short section with charger pads. Traffic jams turned into charging opportunity. No charging ever needed in city driving :-)

You could charge car owner using some sort of RFID or similar tech and call it traffic taxes. Driver could turn automatic opportunity charging off if he doesn't need charging.

Add similar techs in parking lots and you are done with city charging problem.

We just need infrastructures for it, techs are already there.

grega | September 24, 2013

Damn, I blame autocorrect. Telstra is a phone company. Damn.

I meant we don't want Tesla specific induction charging etc, but rather something that works for every EV. Whether that's at traffic lights or common street parking areas.

@kpal, Tesla doesn't need to address this problem because they can aim for the easier targets to start with, while building the infrastructure that will some day enable other problems to be solved.

Brian H | September 24, 2013

Too expensive? The charge will be equivalent to local pricing for 15 gallons of gas. If that's too much, the driver can't afford any kind of car.

Additional charges would apply only if the swap battery was an upgrade, and you opted to keep it.

David N | September 24, 2013

The way I see it, If Tesla cars (and other EV's for that matter) start to gab a foothold in the market place for the common folk, free enterprise forces will address the issue. Case in point, concerning apartment dwellers, if EV cars become common place and there are two apartment buildings on the same street. Apartment #1 refuses to put in charging posts for the tenants, while a competing Apartment complex across the street has installed a hundred outdoor "charging posts" next to parking spaces, reserved for each EV owner/tenant. If you had an EV, which apartment building would you most likely want to live?
The same scenario could be applied to many areas: the Lodging industry, parking garages at airports, major attractions, and so on. Business's will do whatever it takes to attract new customers, and to keep existing ones. It will take time.
Can you imagine what it was like in the very early days of the automobile? there were not gas stations on every corner, it took a long time to develop what we see today.

Objective1 | September 25, 2013

In the US, living "in the city" and having a driveway and/or garage is a common situation.

I've lived for the last 25 in areas that are counted demographically as urban, and I've lived in not-expensive housing, and I've both rented and owned, and I've had garages the whole time. I've never lived in "the suburbs." Many more in "the city" have driveways. Home charging is doable in both those circumstances.

So it would be helpful to have greater clarity on the percentage of drivers who cannot arrange home charging.

wcalvin | September 28, 2013

One model might be those parking meters in Jasper that have an electric outlet for heating oil in arctic temperatures.

carlgo | September 28, 2013

kpal, you are right. However, you will find many people on this forum are totally against having Superchargers in cities and at destinations.

In fact, the only thing that really makes sense in cities are actual swappers for that five-minute stop on the way to work. The idea that people will leave their cars at trickle chargers for a day is unrealistic at best. Can't believe some people actually think that is at all realistic.

Some say Teslas will come and then somehow chargers will follow somehow. Look, either the Superchargers or swappers are there or they are not.

Perhaps Tesla has a plan that will surprise us. Sure hope so. I hope it is for-profit swappers. Faster and much cheaper than gas, and Tesla/SolarCity/(New Company) make a profit. In fact, I would make stations that would serve all electrical cars and absolutely dominate the electrical automotive charging business.

ian | September 28, 2013

+1 David N - It's not Tesla's responsibility to provide charging for everyone. They're doing enough with the Superchargers to facilitate long distance travel. The law of supply and demand will take care of the rest.

Swapping is not practical and will never expand beyond the trial stations if those even happen.

carlgo - Answer this question, what is the longest period of time every day your car is parked? That's where you need to have an outlet or charge point installed.