Anti-theft Charging On Travels

Anti-theft Charging On Travels

Are there any anti-theft measure during charging when travelling long distances? Say you are stopping over at a motel by the highway, you plug in the $1000+ cable for over night charging on a parking lot. My concern is won't the cable be easily get stolen as they are very expensive (similar to copper metal thieves ripping valuable metal off buildings, etc.) and also the car can get vandalized, while it is still plugged in unattended on a motel parking lot? I am sure the cables plugged into a car attracts more attention for potential vandals and thieves. What are the security features implemented to prevent this scenario on long road trips in an unfamiliar area?

Capt601 | March 21, 2011

We asked this question at the Newport model s display last week and the rep mentioned maybe they may have some sort of alarm feature on the port when charging. She had not heard if they would yet but mentioned she had been asked many times about this.
She drives a roadster around and says at nights in hotels she finds herself sometimes checking the car to ensure the charge cable is still safe. Seems like tesla would be thinking of some standard alarm feature for this on the model s. I know we brought it up as a concern to them.

Vawlkus | March 22, 2011

That might be a good thing for an iPhone app: monitor the rate of charge and sound an alarm if the cable is disconnected.

Tom A | March 22, 2011

+1 Vawlkus! A car alarm and a smartphone alarm. Smart.

Actually, +1 to everyone - I've been wondering about this issue, as well. They need to address this. I don't recall seeing any official information or spec sheets that address this issue at all.

gmontem | March 22, 2011

I would like for Tesla to apply the same logic they used with their keyless entry. The charging cable on the vehicle end should remain locked, locked as in unremovable, until the proximity sensor detects the car owner right next to the charging port.

cytek | March 22, 2011

I do hope Tesla have a thought out solution to this issue we have. The smart phone alarm is interesting, but in reality, the cable will be gone in 60 seconds too late, by the time you wake up in AM, wondering who the heck stole it.

That keyless sensor locking idea sounds more like a good logical solution. I hope this will be an included standard item.

msiano17 | March 22, 2011

Joint solutions:

Locking mechanism for cord until fob is detected by car. But an alarm system built into car and phone app (hopefully not just for iPhone) that will alert you if any tampering has happened.

This way it cannot be stolen and you will be notified of any attempt.

dashrb | March 23, 2011

Or, if the vehicle detects that the person removing the charging cord does not have the car key, then it redirects the 70A current flow so it goes into the human rather than into the battery.

No more wondering who stole your cable. The body will still be there in the AM when you awaken.

(I'm joking, of course)

Muskoka | March 23, 2011

I'm not sure why one could not simply plug in any 120V extension cord to a standard pig-tail? Why not have a standard pig-tail like the block heater I currently have - a standard extension cord isn't worth stealing and although I've plugged in my block heater at a couple of hotels up north, I've never lost the cord overnight... albeit, the cords I'm taking about don't draw more than 5 amps. Could the Model S not have a simple 'block-heater' type 120V connection pigtail for such charging?

Assuming a hotel installs dedicated circuits for vehicle charging, enabling higher amperage draw, I think they would have permanently attached cables at their end - these would then lead to vehicles paying for an overnight charge (likely in special parking spots). The hotel would more than likely have security cameras in this area and could easily monitor current flow through such charging cables to spot unexpected disconnects.

The concept of a 'locking connector' at the vehicle is also a good one - but my preference would be to see the cable 'locked' to the charging station/outlet/building which itself should be as secure as a smart hydro meter (people don't take them because of the current flowing/chance of electrocution and the unique serial number encoded into each unit). A cable locked to the charger would be handy for my cottage as well - I'd rather leave the cable hanging outside on the charger, much like a garden hose, and don't want to have to carefully spool up the cable into a compact bundle to take with me... especially when raining or the mosquitoes are biting ;)

msiano17 | March 23, 2011


I think you are on to something there and I am a fan. haha

Straight Shooter | March 24, 2011

@Muskoka, the Roadster and Model S both have a standard 120V connector, so ther eis no problem there. The issue still exists as some of us will have 300mile batteries that we need charged overnight and we can use the 120V line as it doens't have the requied amps.

We need the beefer high power connector. Theives these days will steal it once they know how much it is worth, and I'm sure even the dumb ones will figure out it is expensive once they see it hanging off a $100k car.

Theives don't care about your car either, so they'll have no quams about breaking it off, if needed. The connector to the car and the connector to the charge line need to be VERY strong. I see no issue in incorporating a key (use the drivers key even) to lock it once it is connected up.

Brian H | March 24, 2011

The only ones it is "worth" much to is other Tesla owners. So you're now presuming a black market in charging cables? Hmmm ...

David70 | March 24, 2011

Right Brian H. Who that has spent $50k + on their car is going to trust a "hot" cable?

Vawlkus | March 25, 2011

I can be really thick sometimes.

Make the connectors have coils built into them. So long as power is flowing throuh the connector, it'll be electromagentically secured at both ends! Doesn't matter HOW bad the want to take it, no person on earth will be able to pull it loose :p

Simple electromagnetism in action. Only way to get the cord then is to cut the cable, which'll fry the would-be thieves on the spot. Man I love science }B)

Robert.Boston | March 25, 2011

Presumably the Model S uses the new IEEE-standard SAE J1772 connector, and therefore we'll expect to see that many businesses will have installed charging stations on premise to attract customers (like me) to stay/eat/be entertained there. The problem of theft then becomes the problem of the premise owner, not the car owner.

Volker.Berlin | May 6, 2011

Here's some news from the inductive charging front:

It's admittedly still sci-fi at the moment, but with regard to theft or vandalism, inductive charging is certainly superior to cable charging.

Given the fact that inductive charging will always be inferior to cable charging in terms of power throughput, it is still questionable if this will ever become the preferred charging method during long trips -- except when Autobahns/motor ways get equipped with induction that allows charging while driving! That would effectively mean "infinite range", and on top, with only a relatively small and light battery! That's my personal dream of the EV's future... ;-)

But even as long as inductive charging is only feasible for home and office use, it is still a major improvement in convenience. In most usage scenarios, you do not need a very high charging rate to end up with a full battery the next time you need to move the car.

EdG | May 9, 2011

Wouldn't it be nice if the connector would be some electromagnetically locked device? Like the charging cable for Mac computers, but with a lock. If it would attach and disconnect magnetically, without having to push the plug in or pull it out. With the cord coming down from the garage ceiling, a la the oil filling tubes you might see at Jiffy Lube, a quick connect and disconnect would be nice.

VolkerP | May 9, 2011


yes, and have the connector automagically mate your car as you park in your garage. Like Star Trek "docking clamps engaged"!

David M. | May 10, 2011

You guys are on the right track. Cord theft will become a very serious issue. I like the suggestion from Vawikus to electromagnetically secure the cable to the car until a proximity detector senses the owner's key fob and unlocks the cable. I don't see hotels investing in charging stations anytime soon. Most will offer parking spaces with a nearby 120V outlet. A 220V outlet will be a rare treat. Can you say "bye bye $600 cable?"

Example: Right now the Tampa airport Long Term lot has spaces where a 120V outlet is nearby. That's it. They told me that SFO has dedicated charging stations, but nobody uses them. They are not ready to make an investment.

DartLady S77 | May 14, 2011

@ Brian H and David70

The value of the cable to thieves is not to resell it to Tesla owners - it's in the copper value - phone and cable companies have been having a heck of a time as thieves steal their lines (even stripping out streetlight poles) to sell the copper to metal recyclers.

Timo | May 14, 2011

Seriously? That's one type of crime I'm not familiar to. I don't recall seeing any "copper thieves" here ever.

SteveU | May 14, 2011

@Timo: Sadly copper theft is real. Someone stole the copper pipes on the roof of the building I work in. It certainly cost us a whole lot more to replace them than the copper was worth.

Nicu | May 14, 2011

People steal copper wires from high speed trains' power lines in France ! Imagine the consequences ...

Timo | May 14, 2011

That's seriously odd type of crime. How do they benefit from that? Logic behind that is puzzling to me.

jkirkebo | May 14, 2011

Copper prices has increased significantly in the last few years. The thieves sell the copper for the scrap metal value.

Brian H | May 15, 2011

Here are some pretty pictures for you:

Vawlkus | May 16, 2011

It get dumber Timo. Some 50 year old twit severed a fibre optic backbone down in the US a little while back. Broke the 'Net for good chunk of the state. Her execuse? She wanted to sell the copper for scrap to buy a purse. -.-
Locally, I've heard about one bunch of idiots that went into a housing project, and stole all the copper pipes from the heating oil furnace tanks. Only trouble was, those tanks had just been filled with heating oil. Caused a massive spill that the developer hadda clean up by digging up ALL the contaminated soil and shipping it off to be dealt with.

clea | May 16, 2011

It's not only in the states that this happens as it also happened to Armenia as it's internet was cutoff by a 75 year old Georgian woman digging for copper ...

Volker.Berlin | May 16, 2011

Same thing going on in Germany. Sadly.

Timo | May 16, 2011

There should be laws against stupidity. Make a stupid crime and get extra penalty from being stupid. Damage done vs. personal gain to criminal should be a meter to figure out how stupid it was, and also how much effort law enforcement needed to capture the individual(s).

@Brian H. Ouch! Looks nasty. Darwin Award goes there.

Brian H | May 16, 2011

Russia and Iraq etc. had and still have big time problems with copper theft. Use copters to patrol high-tension lines, etc.

Volker.Berlin | May 19, 2011

I am still wondering whether inductive charging is a hype or the future. I am not yet giving up. At some point, we *will* have inductive Autobahns! :-)

Vawlkus | May 19, 2011

It's a possibility, but it'll take a lotta work to pull off. I mean, how often do roads get rebuilt? It's not because they have fresh asphalt on sale! I think it has better application in downtown areas, and in rest stop side roads. Drive along here for an hour (or park) and then your back to a ful tank.

Volker.Berlin | May 19, 2011

Ok, first off, I think it's science fiction. But anyhow... IMO motor ways are the way to go, rather than downtown areas and side roads:

It's during the long trips when you need an extra charge, not when commuting around town. In that case, simply charge over night.
The high-traffic motor ways are relatively easy to identify, and there are an order of magnitude less miles of high-traffic motor ways, than roads in downtown areas.
Electric cars "burn" more on the motor way and less around town, contrary to ICE.

Thus, with an inductive motor way, you could go across country "on a single charge". At your destination, you get around town with your battery. You may have only little charge left after a busy day, but if you make it back to the motor way, you are fine. On your way home, you do not need your battery, or it may even charge. That's my answer to the limited range of ICEs. :-P

gjunky | May 19, 2011

As to the road rebuilds, take a look at the Solar Roads. This wouldn't give us charging but I think it would be a better solution if we are going to rebuild the roads at some point. (IMHO)

As to the anti-theft charging of this thread:
+ 1 for including an anti-theft charging option such as a magnetic lock. Leaving an expensive charging cable in public is just asking for theft or practical "jokes".
+1 for an alarm system
+1 for that alarm to contact my mobile phone

Vawlkus | May 19, 2011

The major advantage an inductive road has that people overlook is the fact that it eliminates the need for power poles. With an inductive road, the power is being transmitted along under the surface of the road, and the inductive recharging is a fringe benefit. Think about it; no more power outages because some drunken idiot KO's a power pole.
Flip side of that is that if there ever is a break in the line, it's gonna be a bitch to fix.

Brian H | May 19, 2011

Plus surface wear & tear, winter salting (crack, leak, short, ZAP!!), opacity increases, etc., etc. Dreams by A Ijit, IMO.

Victor Galindo | June 8, 2011

Inductive charging would be the best for all locations except for the expense of home installations. I charge my tooth brushes that way. I also wonder if Tesla (& Nissan, GM, Toyota) have considered the Lithium Titanate batteries. While about 20% heavier (for the same energy stored), they require no cooling, or heating. They most importantly charge at many times faster than the Lithium Ion batteries. And to top it off, they last at least 9000 cycles of full charging - good for 20 years or more. And, I also wonder if dual layer super capacitors would have some useful application in EVs. To completely protect against theft, I would suggest snipers with rifles at convenient locations.

Volker.Berlin | June 9, 2011

Inductive charging would be the best for all locations except for the expense of home installations.

They are working on it as we speak...

Brian H | June 9, 2011

The Plugless Power system utilizes induction technology to transfer up to 3.3 kilowatts of power at efficiencies of up to 90 percent, allowing plug-in vehicles to recharge as quickly as they would with some Level 2 conductive (wired) chargers.

My 'rithmatic sez that would take about 20 hrs to charge a Roadster fully. Hardly equivalent to a Level 2 charger.

David70 | June 9, 2011

Yep Brian. The lower current level 2 chargers are supposed to provide more than twice 3.3 kW, and the NEMA 14-50 (at 40 A) gives 9.6 kW.

But, inductive charging is really nice for things like toothbrushes, where there's a possible of contacts getting damp. I wish Waterpik would make an inductive version. My cordless Waterpik starts decreasing its functionality after about a year. OTOH the Braun toothbrushes and Philips Sonicare have inductive charging, and they last for years of effective use.

daniel1948 | June 13, 2011

I like the idea of charging cables integrated into the outlet, so the cable is the property owner's responsibility. But there will always be situations where you want to charge someplace there is only an electrical outlet (whether 120 or 240) and you need to use your own cable. For those situations, a lock at the car end is a great idea, whether it be a mechanical key or a smart key system.

Volker.Berlin | June 14, 2011

You may be skeptical, and useful applications may seem limited with today's efficiency and charging rates, but I would still say inductive charging is here to stay (and to improve):

Brian H | June 14, 2011

Nah, it'll be scuttled by RF-obic Electro-Gweinies afwaid of the waves! Jiggling their pweshus genes and hormones et al.

VolkerP | June 14, 2011


stop cross posting stuff from the lpp web site, please!

Kallisman | June 15, 2011

I think they might have hidden the charge port in front under the hood of the Model S, since I can't see any signs of it on recent pics of the Alphas. Then they only need to make a small path for the charging cable out the front. Maybe with a clamp to protect the plug if someone pulls it. Putting the charge port under the hood will protect the cable from theft or disconnection + bad weather and water/ice. It will also make it possible to store the cable in the same place so u don't have to first get that out of the boot and then go to the charge port.
Anyway, this is just a guess.

Brian H | June 15, 2011

Volker P;
Say what? I have never "cross-posted" stuff from the LPP website. I've posted occasional links, or made comments, but they are entirely unique to this site.

Perhaps you don't know what the term means.

VolkerP | June 15, 2011

my apologies for a joke gone wrong.

Volker.Berlin | August 23, 2011

Maybe may vision of charging highways (="infinite range" for EVs) has just become a tiny bit more feasible:

EdG | August 23, 2011

For a demonstration of power sent through the air, see the TED talk here: