Tesla Motors Charging Network

Tesla Motors Charging Network

I have seen some mention in this forum about Tesla's plans to deploy their own charging stations. I was wondering if anyone actually had more information on this. Where did this information/rumor come from? Was there any mention of when, how many and where these would be? Any speculation on where they should put them?

The obvious answer for me would be to have them along freeways between their retail/service locations with an interval of about 100 miles but that would take a very large number of them.

Could non-Tesla cars charge at these locations? So many questions. They all might become irrelevant if a large public charging network will appear but will either be in time for the Model S reservation holders to use when we get our cars?

Brian H | November 28, 2011

I believe Elon dropped a comment about making fast-charge available at TM expense on all major US routes, in the near future. He's determined to "break" range anxiety.

CarlE_P439 | December 13, 2011

It's not entirely surprising that there are not many companies excited to set up charging stations across the country when you consider that so few plug-in vehicles are currently on the road and not many more will be so in the near future. Conceivably those of us with garages will likely have either a fast-charger or 240 V outlet. Perhaps we need an informal charging network of Tesla owners that could help each other out when someone needs a charge. Not sure how practical this is (homeowner would have to be home, location would have to be convenient, and homeowner willing, out of the kindness of his/her heart, to pay the electric bill). Just a thought.

Larry Chanin | December 13, 2011

"Conceivably those of us with garages will likely have either a fast-charger or 240 V outlet."

Hi Carl,

It is not likely any residential home is going to have access to sufficient electrical capacity to support a DC fast charger. The cost of a fast charger is likely to be at least $50,000.


Larry Chanin | December 13, 2011

Bank of America Maintains Buy, PT of $36 on Tesla

Tesla will be introducing a $50K supercharger.


Mycroft | December 13, 2011

Carl may have meant a 90A HPC as a "fast charger".

Brian H | December 13, 2011

For Tesla (or any mfr.) it's a marketing expense. How many "range anxiety holdouts" will each $1 million invested in en route fast chargers turn into buyers? And how much is the positive publicity worth?

I think that's why Elon figures it's worthwhile to install them on all major routes in the country.

CarlE_P439 | December 15, 2011

Sorry. I was thinking of 240V (70A ?) as "fast charger," not the 440V type. Still beats 110V!

ncn | December 15, 2011

Regarding putting stations in between destinations: trust me, I'm "passing through" Erie and Toledo, not stopping. :-)

Teoatawki | December 16, 2011

Well, you'll miss out on Tony Packo's. Personally, I'd be thrilled to plug my car in there for a couple hours.

Robert.Boston | December 16, 2011

And Cedar Point amusement park in Toledo has an amazing collection of roller coasters. Maybe get some EV charging stations there...

Leofingal | December 16, 2011

Actually R.B that's a great way to pass the time while your car is charging. get a bit of walking in to improve circulation, a few thrills, then back on the road. If they let you charge up for the price of admission, definitely a good value for both the park and the driver. It would be interesting to see if you could do an amusement park charging network - would this be dense enough to do a cross country trip?

Leofingal | December 16, 2011

Hmm, seems like a bit of a gap in the middle of the country:

Hopefully that is a link to the map of the US with amusement parks.

Leofingal | December 16, 2011

bah, just go to that map and search for amusement parks - the links don't contain the current map search results apparently

ncn | December 18, 2011

I was responding to Robert.Boston's claim that level 3 chargers should be at "nowheres".

I don't mean to denigrate Toledo, I'd love to spend an hour or two in Toledo charging, eating at local restaurants, seeing the downtown sights. (I'm not fond of amusement parks.) I just don't plan to stay overnight there, and I don't want to spend a couple of hours at five or six different cities.

You need level 3 chargers for that use case, given the length of a Chicago-NY trip. Those chargers should be located somewhere which isn't boring -- which means an actual city -- in between the *big* cities where most people are headed. Not "nowhere", but not "Midtown Manhattan" or "The Loop" either.

Robert.Boston | December 19, 2011

Agreed, ncn -- my "ten chargers to cover New England" plan are all located in places with enough things to do to pass an hour in comfort and reasonable enjoyment. There's still a balance; unlike gas stations, which quite reasonably are located on "EZ-Off, EZ-On" but boring locations, if you want something interesting to do to while away the hour, you'll have to drive some distance off the highway in most cases.

mwu | December 19, 2011

I wonder how many charging ports will be available at one of the high powered charging stations. Even if it only takes 30 minutes to get an 80% charge, if there are people ahead of you that could easily be a few hours.

On the other hand, the good thing is that we'll likely only see Tesla vehicles at Tesla high powered charging stations for now and those are not going to be terribly common for a little while. Might actually be spots to meet up with and chat with fellow early adopters.

stephen.kamichik | December 19, 2011

TM should put a charging station in Kingston, Ontario, Canada. This would serve the Montreal-Toronto and the Ottawa-Toronto corridors. Another TM charging station should be installed in London, Ontario, Canada. The Toronto-Windsor corrider would then be served. Quebec and Ontario offer healthy incentives to purchasers of EVs. Thousands of EVs could be sold if these charging stations existed.

Douglas3 | December 19, 2011

+1 stephen.kamachi...

Tesla was originally going to put an HPC at a hotel in Kingston, but backed away from that.

Grrr. Right now I can't drive Ottawa-Toronto unless the KOA's are open. Have to wait until spring. Frustrating.

That said, Tesla is negotiating with Canadian Tire to put HPC's and Superchargers at some of the 401 "On The Go" stations. That will really help.

stephen.kamichik | December 19, 2011

Douglas3.....Very good news. Thank you. I still have to decide which battery pack I want (can afford).

mcornwell | December 20, 2011

On the options page, they list Supercharger access as being standard for the 85kwh battery owners. I'm guessing this means there is no charge for it's use?

In George Blankenships blog post today, he says:

"I'm not going to spill the beans too much in this post, but great things are about to happen when it comes to charging during cross country travel. More to come on that later..."

jackhub | January 2, 2012

We may be thinking about this charging network from the wrong perspective. If I wanted to rapidly introduce charging stations across the US and Canada, I would look for a partnership with people who have a business of catering to drivers 24/7. A business that focuses on the vehicle as much as the driver. I would seek a partnership with truck stop chains.

I frequentl these in my own travels. A look on-line indicates thousands of them. One chain I frequent, the Pilot Flying J has hundreds if not thousdnds of locations throughout the US and parts of Canada. They understand the needs of drivers, offer spacious parking, various types of fuel (they are now implementing natural gas fueling), provide a degree of security because of the 18 wheelers, have restaurants and restrooms, shops for wiling away the teme, and provide info on the next stop! Considering that charging stations may need some security from vandalism, these well lighted, well traveled locations open 24/7, with attention to DRIVING needs would be ideal.

If charging stations are in the range of 5-10K, a partnership with one or two of these chains would be ideal. Tesla could fund the installations and the chain could manage the day-to-day charging operation using ther already in place infrastructure and credit operation. That could be a reason for Elon's excitment!

David M. | January 2, 2012

No offense, but given a choice, I'd rather make some new friends at upscale RV parks while charging on a Tesla supercharger. Just enough time for a picnic lunch. However, my wife would probably prefer one hour of shopping at a mall while charging on a Tesla supercharger.

I vote for the interstate 10 corridor (CA to FL) and interstate 95 (FL to Boston).

Larry Chanin | January 2, 2012

Hi Jack,

Sounds like a good idea.

In an earlier posting I provide a link to a brief article that suggests the cost of a Tesla Supercharger will be $50,000. This still could be something that Tesla might donate.

The sooner Tesla locks in these partnerships with strategically located establishments the better. I see that Cracker Barrell has started installing Level 2 and CHAdeMO fast chargers so the likelihood of them adding a Tesla proprietary charger at a later date is a bit remote.


David M. | January 3, 2012

Question - would you invest $1M for 20 Superchargers sprinkled around the nation that could only serve a maximum of maybe 12,000 cars the first year, and another 20,000 cars the second year?

How many years would it take to break even on that investment? That's why the only company with a financial interest to install Superchargers is Tesla.

It could be 10 years before another auto company builds an EV that is capable of charging up on one of Tesla's superchargers. That's why I believe Level 2 chargers will continue to be installed in public locations. Unfortunately, there is a short list of sensible locations for Level 2 chargers:
- Hotels (for overnight guests, 8 to 12 hours)
- Places of work (8 hours of charging)
- Airports (1 or more days of charging)
and to a lesser extent:
- Shopping malls (1 to 3 hours of charging)
- Movie theaters (2 to 3 hours of charging)

kublai | January 3, 2012

Has there been any mention of an east coast Tesla charging station network? NY all the way to FL?

Robert.Boston | January 3, 2012


The DC Tesla staff mentioned plans for a DC--Boston charging network. No word about extending that south to FL or north to ME.

Larry Chanin | January 3, 2012

@David M.

Question - would you invest $1M for 20 Superchargers sprinkled around the nation that could only serve a maximum of maybe 12,000 cars the first year, and another 20,000 cars the second year?

How many years would it take to break even on that investment? That's why the only company with a financial interest to install Superchargers is Tesla.

Yes, my concern is even with Tesla donating Superchargers, strategically located establishments along major highways may be unwilling to devote space or pay the upkeep on proprietary chargers that only accommodates a relatively small niche market.

Of course breaking even isn't just a matter of collecting charging fees. The major motivation would be attracting patronage to their establishment. However, I expect Nissan Leafs to outnumber Model Ss by an order of magnitude. So if you were the proprietor of say a roadside restaurant, which would you install a Supercharger that only accommodates a Model S or a CHAdeMO that is an open standard that accommodates Leafs and possibly other soon to be released EVs?


stephen.kamichik | January 3, 2012

I think TM knows this. That is why we are getting a J1772 adapter included with our model S.

Larry Chanin | January 3, 2012

Hi Stephen,

So are you suggesting that if the Supercharger network proves to be unpopular with hosting establishments, that we would have to fall back on Level 2 charging because Tesla chose a proprietary DC fast charger?


Brian H | January 4, 2012

the ONLY DC fast charger, AFAIK. Heard other claims of super-charging, but seen no hardware.

jackhub | January 4, 2012

Elon has often said he wants to encourage the acceptance of EVs in the US . . . ALL EVs. So why do we assume that the Tesla charging network will only include the Tesla charging protocol? Charging station partnerships are much more likely to be economicaly viable if all standards are made availble.

Brian H | January 4, 2012

Well, jackhub, since only the Tesla stations would be capable of fastcharge for the 'S', the odds of finding one 'taken' by a slow-charging (e.g.) Leaf are very high if it is a general use station.

Which, incidentally, raises the question of how many cars a station can handle at once.

jackhub | January 4, 2012

We have three 'flavors' of gasoline available at multiple pumps, why not multiple charging 'flavors' at multiple charging stations ;-] Hey, looking for a solution to the lack of incentive for charging stations.

Timo | January 4, 2012

There is also a question how many it really needs to be able to serve. As has been told, 90% of driving is under 40 miles, I bet 95% is under 150 miles, so you need to serve only that 5% unlike gasoline station. That makes those places way less crowded than gas stations.

I wonder how high current car could handle if it were made to use three-phase connection thru the PEM. PEM is made to handle three-phase currents that are way higher than any charging stations ever do, so I believe long-term solution to charging should be as cheap as possible charger, probably just a dial that sets the max current that connection allows and conversion to DC made by car handling the currents reading that setting from the dial. Otherwise roadside charging points will never be economically viable. Just plain too few cars charging there.

MitchL | January 4, 2012

I think that you could figure the ideal station size, but it would depend on where it is, what people are likely to do while they wait, and how fast the chargers are (among other things).

I don't know if it's a relevant comparison, but many of the high-tech companies in Silicon Valley have charging stations in their employee lots. Where I work, they used to be idle all the time, except for the occasional Roadster. Then Leaf and Volt came on the scene, now you've got to get to work super early if you want a space.

Leafs show the charging status with some LEDs on the dash, and by lunchtime most are recharged but the owners don't move them. (my company posts signs telling us to move EVs after charging, but I've never seen it happen).

A friend at Google said their stations are shared between spaces - if the charge is complete when you arrive, you can park next to it and move the cable to your car.

When I think about this, the type of charger and number of spaces depends on where it is. I assume that fast chargers are more expensive to install and operate than normal level2 chargers:

- Along a freeway, more fast chargers are better, and you need to deal with the arrival rate and distribution of cars to give people good charging experiences. For example, you might be able to get a 30 minute charge, but you don't want to wait an hour to get one.

- In a mall / employer / movie lot, slower charging might be fine, so you could afford to put many more chargers in. People are likely to hook their cars up and spend more time while the charging happens.

- At home, you can take your time, wait until rates are low.

Unless you're old enough to remember the gas crisis in the 1970s, most of us haven't waited long to get to the pump. As EVs get more popular, _all_ manufacturers need to get on board with charging infrastructure to get the market going,

Thinking about this a little more, let's consider I-5 between SF and LA. It says that about 300K cars/day travel this route. For now, imagine that all 1000 signature owners travel to LA each day. At 30 minutes per charge, traveling around 18 hours/day (we _do_ sleep), you can charge 36 cars/day/charger. You'd need 28 spaces per super charging station just to keep up with those cars, assuming they are perfectly evenly distributed over the day.

Supercharging stations will need to be big places, I think... hundreds of spaces on busy highways.

I wonder how this is all going to play out... we'll all see soon enough!


BruceR | January 4, 2012

How about the obvious charging partners of Toyota and Chrysler? How many Toyota dealerships out there? Every Nissan dealership was required to put in a J1772 charging station for the LEAF. (And most will share with other vehicles for no cost.) Both of these car companies will be very interested in further supporting their own and Teslas EV interests by making charging more available. My local Toyota dealership is actually a decent place to spend an hour with all their ammenities. Sound like a Supercharger rollout partnership to be announced in 2012?

Brian H | January 5, 2012

Your "all 1000 Sigs" on that highway is maybe not so unrealistic if you include the next 24,000 Ps (by the end of 2013) into the total population. SoCal is the hotbed of Tesla owners, so it's likely the nearby roads will see the densest traffic.

MitchL | January 5, 2012


Yes, 1K cars was a totally random # to pick - the problem gets worse over time as EV's take off.

It's tough to beat the 5-minute fill-up time of a gas car. It works on many levels, and the "charge" rate (joules per second added to storage) is very favorable on a gas pump.

When EVs reach critical mass, designing a large charging station for a freeway could end up being similar to designing a parking lot for a mall, with hundreds or thousands of spaces. I certainly wouldn't find that very attractive as a driver. Too many spaces wastes money, too few can frustrate drivers and put people off EVs.

You could distribute the load, lots of small charging stations spread out along the interstate, every 50 miles or so. But: someone has to purchase the land, run utilities to it, and provide something for drivers to do while they wait.

Our cars could be smart about this in the future, coordinating amongst themselves and the charge stations to help ensure that when you arrive a charger will be available. If I regularly commuted on the interstate, I'd pay for a service that guaranteed a charger slot when I arrived, with the computer giving me some advance notice as to where I'd need to stop.

Before the interstate system, local/state roads were the way to get around. There were lots of exits, small towns, and small gas stations (there was also a couple of orders of magnitude fewer cars). EV owners that want to cross the country will undoubtably need to be more relaxed about their travels.

Even super chargers at 30 minutes are probably not fast enough. Getting the charge time down to 10 minutes would help immensely, but that's pretty far out there given today's battery technology.

The more I think about this, the more interesting the problem is. There's bound to be some great math here for economists to munch on. I wonder if anyone's done any formal study on this, certainly someone has somewhere...


brianman | January 5, 2012

"It's tough to beat the 5-minute fill-up time of a gas car. It works on many levels, and the "charge" rate (joules per second added to storage) is very favorable on a gas pump."

"Even super chargers at 30 minutes are probably not fast enough. Getting the charge time down to 10 minutes would help immensely, but that's pretty far out there given today's battery technology."

Or... you just introduce some regulation that slows the pumping rate per gallon by a factor of 6. Come up with some "pump leakage at high speed" excuse. It worked for getting the speed limit down to 55 right?

jackhub | January 5, 2012

I covered this in another thread, somewhere. Earlier in the year an issue of MIT's Technology Review reported on a new nickel plated anode development for lithium-ion batteriesw. It is applied at the quantum level. It would allow cellphone charging in 30 seconds and EVs in 5 minutes. I can't find it!!!! Of course lab to market is always a bumpy road.

Nicu | January 6, 2012


Timo | January 6, 2012

@MitchL, battery tech is not the limiting factor, there are techs that allow less than five minute charging. Way less in fact.

Power needed to do such charging is a limit. In order to fill up 85kWh in ten minutes you would need enormous power from charger, and that is a currently unsolvable problem. 6*85kWh = 510kW of power or 510V@1000A = Too heavy cable to handle. Increase voltage to make amps manageable: 1700V@300A = too high voltage for safe charging.

But in reality that is not a problem. You can charge at home, which means you need fast charging very rarely. That also means that with 300mile battery you can drive something like 200miles before even starting to look for charger and at 75mph that's 2h40min of driving. Take a break and use ~30minutes in 45minute charger.

Robert.Boston | January 6, 2012

@Timo: I know you're exactly right, but I have to blink three times when I see statements like "1700V ... too high". My work is almost exclusively with the transmission system, and anything below 69kV is considered "small." It's certainly not the kind of voltages, however, that you want consumers handling.

Although, a short story about high voltage lines near consumers comes to mind. After the 9/11 attacks, ConEd of NY was faced with a huge problem: the major distribution hub for the south side of lower Manhattan was located in vaults beneath 7WTC; this hub was, obviously, completely destroyed when 7WTC collapsed in the wake (literally) of 1&2WTC. ConEd had crews laying temporary cables, connecting the substation at South Street Seaport over to the west side -- cables running at 345,000V, in wooden boxes in street gutters. Desperate times call for desperate measures.

Brian H | January 6, 2012

Heh. I just got this image of charging stations made up to look just like gas stations, with HV transformers shaped like gas pumps, and the cable looking just like the gas hose, and the connector shaped like the gas handle. Insert, pull the trigger grip, it locks in for 5 min., done!

Maybe not so far-fetched. Didja know the reason light bulbs screw in instead of snapping in is that the first sockets were converted gas-lamp holders, that had that threading? Old habits shape new technology ...

jackhub | January 6, 2012

Just received my January 2012 issue of AAA Travler. AAA is launching a pilot program providing roadside charging for EVs. They will provide trucks with level 2 and level 3 roadside charging capability in six metropolitan areas (as yet unnamed). These trucks will also be capable of providing AAA's full range of roadside assistance. They expect 1.2 million EVs on the road by 2015!

Robert.Boston | January 6, 2012

Hmm, I may need to renew my long-lapsed AAA membership.

brianman | January 6, 2012

That may push me into finally getting AAA.

Teoatawki | January 6, 2012

No spare. No jack. Definitely keeping my AAA membership current!

MitchL | January 6, 2012


Great info on charging technology - thanks! Moving lots of energy in a short time will certainly test barriers imposed by the laws of physics,

In my musing about fast chargers, I was considering the I-5 corridor or other long interstate case (not local driving). 300mi EVs are imagined to be good for trips other than local rides in town.

If you've got 1000 EVs traveling from SF to LA on I-5 (so they _must_ stop to charge), and it takes 30 minutes to charge (today's tech), assuming an even distribution of arrival times for cars and a full 30-minute charge per car over the day you'd need 28 spaces at each station.

At least I think that's right.. I should ask my wife, she builds queueing models as part of her job and could confirm this.

I guess what I'm getting at is if all of a sudden 1% of the traffic on a busy interstate like I-5 was EV traffic, we'd need quite a bit of charging infrastructure.


EdG | January 6, 2012


FWIW, AAA allows you to sign up on the phone and immediately call them for help. No need to sign up in advance.