Will selling superchargers be a business opportunity for Tesla?

Will selling superchargers be a business opportunity for Tesla?

The new supercharger at JFK (, and potentially the one coming at EWR in Newark, will be at the facilities of something called Airport Plazas, which is building a network of service centers at airports across the country. This is from their website ( "Our mission is to promote more diversified fueling options, building energy efficient service plazas that will help the environment for years to come." As has already been noted on other threads, a full build out to their 4 open, 9 on the way, and 7 more planned locations would be a major boost to the urban supercharger landscape.

For AP, a supercharger is an attraction that supports their core business. At least small sets of other supercharger locations are apparently also being developed with malls and other service outlets. This makes sense for both Tesla and their apparent partners, although it is not clear whether the partners are actually contributing $.

I am wondering about a broader implication. Superchargers supposedly only cost $150,000, which will presumably drop with economies of scale. This is peanuts for a high end retailer, hotel or casino. Why wouldn't they just buy one? I can see 10 supercharger sites on Rodeo Dr, 20 on the Las Vegas Strip, and 500 in NYC (if there were some place to put them). In the simplest version, the customer would pay for it, and would also pay Tesla to maintain it. Everyone is happy.

Is this the real reason that the stated supercharger plan skips urban areas?

TikiMan | November 29, 2013

I agree 100%! I recently spent $75.00 eating at Mr Chow's in Malibu, because it was the closest place to eat next to a free 30 amp city charging station.

"If you build it, they will come." (Field of Dreams (1989)

tes-s | November 29, 2013

Don't even have to buy - I think Tesla is very willing to work with anyone that wants a supercharger.

Airport Plazas is a great example. JFK and EWR were never on the Tesla supercharger maps. My guess is they somehow connected and found mutual benefit.

moorelin | November 29, 2013


Agree that Tesla working with partners is the way to get things started. What I am suggesting is a bit different model where high end service businesses would make themselves stand out relative to their competitors, to say nothing of bringing in customers who are may able to spend a bit more than most.

People who can buy their own jet could put one in their garage.

Jolinar | November 30, 2013

yes please!!
I hope Tesla could relese SuperCharging protocol for public use so 3rd party companies coud develop own version of SuperChargers...
For Example ABB has Terra 53 charging station and it supports 50kW and 3 standards (that why Terra 53) - CHAdeMO, CCS Combo and 43kW Mennekes all in one, they could build Terra 124 which would include SuperChargr too.

Hey Tesla, if you read this please consider opening your technology to the public... More SuperChargers around the world -> more Model S/X sales for you!

tes-s | November 30, 2013

@moorlin - agree 100%.

I'm suggesting that those businesses don't even have to "buy" the supercharger. I think Tesla would work with them on the cost - perhaps the business would provide the site and electricity, and Tesla would provide the SC, installation, and support.

Tesla has a desire to build a supercharger network; businesses want to attract customers.

@jolinar - I think Tesla has said they would be open to making superchargers available to other manufacturers. I believe they would want an up-front fee per supercharger-enabled vehicle, but would likely be open to other agreements.

tes-s | November 30, 2013

@jolinar - sorry, misunderstood and got your post backwards. You are looking to have Tesla use other DC networks. Tesla will have a CHAdeMO connector.

bonaire | November 30, 2013

The primary problem of a proprietary system trying to sell it to others is the nature of the proprietary system itself. No other EVs use this charging method. And, no other EVs have as fast an onboard inverter to charge the battery set. (ie. Nissan Leaf is 6.6KW onboard plus their own fast-charger solution on another plug standard). I doubt there is a business model in the next 5-10 years of Tesla selling or even licensing access to the superchargers.

Velo1 | November 30, 2013

I regularly fly out of DIA (Denver) and live 50 miles from the airport. There is one off-site parking service, Canopy Parking, that caters to Model S owners. They are a "green" company, and have free juice bars for hybrid and EVs. Their valet service attendants all know how to handle a Model S, and they are really good about rotating their chargers to ensure customers pretty much have a full charge at time of pick up on their return. This business model is perfect for Model S owners, as I never wonder if I will have sufficient charge to make it back home 50 miles away and 3,000 feet of elevation gain to my house in the mountains, especially if I have been gone for a week. Plus, I always feel good that my car, Joules, has quality time visiting with her siblings at the inside garage. It is not unusual to see 6 or more Model S lined up at the juice bars, bonding with each other.

I am not affiliated with canopy parking, just a loyal customer - like I am for Tesla Motors.

tes-s | November 30, 2013

Until there is another EV with range similar to the Tesla, I don't see a demand for supercharger use by non-Teslas. Even with a 60 a road trip is a different proposition - even if the superchargers are close enough, the number of stops and charge time makes it less convenient. Certainly doable, but less convenient.

It takes about the same amount of time to charge a 60 as an 85 at a supercharger, since the fastest charging is the first 30kWh, and then it slows down with the last 10kWh taking the longest.

I'm looking forward to an MS or MX in a few years with 100 or more kWh pack. That means less need for superchargers, and when they are needed they will be faster and less frequently needed.

david.baird | November 30, 2013

I don't quite understand why they don't get into a partnership with some of the existing service stations - imagine if there were a couple of Supercharge bays in the parking lots of all the major services on the freeway/motorway/autoroutes.

This would be the way to go - and the oil companies would do well to get a finger in the pie because their main product it slowly, but surely being used up.

jbunn | November 30, 2013

Their partnership model basically is this. You, the merchant give us a few parking slots. We pay for the chargers, install, and power. In addition for giving us the parking slots, we deliver an affluent, loyal, and informed customer with a bit of time on his hands who will spend the money he's not dropping on gasoline at your business.

I don't think money need exchange hands in most cases.

The strangest supercharger is Attascadero, with about 10 SC bays in a bank parking lot... I don't understand that business model. A more normal site would be Gilroy or Folsom where the chargers are at factory outlet malls. We usually drop a few bucks at local businesses while juicing up.

moorelin | November 30, 2013


Partnering with an oil co might make sense except for the part about selling gas and giving away electricity...

Partnership, or just buying a (not too expensive) supercharger outright, would have to be based on the benefit of specifically attracting Tesla owners, or EVs more broadly as in Velo1's DIA example.

DSurber | November 30, 2013

The strangest supercharger is Attascadero, with about 10 SC bays in a bank parking lot... I don't understand that business model.

The Attascadero Supercharger is in an Rabobank parking lot. A couple of weeks after visiting the Attascadero Supercharger I ran into a Dutch gentleman who had works for Rabobank corporate in The Netherlands and now in the US. I asked him exactly this question.

Rabobank is a cooperative. It was formed by Dutch farmers as a way to meet their financial needs. Rabobank branches in the US are in agricultural areas, usually ones with significant Dutch immigration. Each Rabobank branch is largely independent. The local manager has tremendous flexibility to run his/her bank to best meet his local customers' needs. This freedom is probably unimaginable for any other bank.

If you stand at the Attascadero Supercharger and look around you can see dozens of small businesses. Many of those businesses are likely Rabobank customers. The Dutch gentleman suggested that the local manager believed that giving up a few parking spaces would help his/her local customers and he/she had the freedom to do so. Bringing in the Supercharger helps local businesses make more money which helps the bank make more money. And it provides a lot of good will.

The Supercharger probably brings additional customers to businesses that are not Rabobank customers. But they might be someday. And even if not, those businesses do business with other local businesses some of whom are Rabobank customers. Bringing more money into Attascadero helps everyone.

Brian H | November 30, 2013

Gas stations are unpleasant environments, which Tesla drivers would prefer to avoid. Your gas stations would be last on the list of charging choices for them.

jbunn | November 30, 2013

Thanks, Dsurber. Makes sense. And we did infact hit the local resturants to and from our Santa Barbara trip.

Jolinar | December 1, 2013


my point is that SuperCharging protocol should be open like CHAdeMO, Combo and other protocols.

I am not conserned about car manufacturers (I don't care if BMW or VW use CHAdeMO/Combo or SuperCharger), but charging infrastructure developers like ABB and other firms. They can develop, build and sell fast charging stations supporting several protocols (like Terra 53), but SuperCharger protocol is not one of them because it's proprietary.

So while you will see hundreds and hundreds of CHAdeMO and CCS stations, there will be only few tens or low hundreds of SuperChargers because nobody except Tesla can build them.

For example: tiny Estonia has 148+ CHAdeMO chargers, Japan has 980+ CHAdeMO chargers... Tesla has no public plans to build stations in my country and many other eastern Europe countries, but if SuperCharger was open protocol, 3rd party companies would do that. Also Tesla has no plans to build SC in urban areas, but again 3rd parties would do that because thay could make money on it... I think everybody wants to have more SCs, regardles of who builds them. Tesla SCs are free to use and paid in the price of the car, 3rd party SC would be paid per use or prepaid or whatever. I'd gladly pay for use - still better than charging 11 or 22kW at standard public charging site.

david.baird | December 1, 2013

@moorelin @brian

Yes of course, I don't want to be smelling stinky oil products while I charge my Tesla, but the fact remains that these gas stations (or petrol stations as we call them over here) are already there with the space to add some chargers in their parking lots, with the restaurant facilities in place. That's my thinking.

tes-s | December 1, 2013

@jolinar - thanks; I understand now. Not sure why Tesla won't release the protocol. Would love to see a DC charger that could connect directly to my MS without an expensive adapter.

Tesla in the US does handle the proprietary protocol (AC and DC input), J1772, and soon CHAdeMO.

Koz | December 1, 2013

tes-s & jolinar

Additionally, CHAdeMO is currently (no pun) slow in comparison.

Jolinar | December 1, 2013

tes-s & Koz

exactly, it would be not only directly plug-able to Model S, but also as fast as Tesla SuperCharger... win-win-win situation for Tesla, customer and 3rd party companies.

PS: sorry for my wierd english, it's not my nativ language.

Koz | December 1, 2013


I agree 100%. Posted very similar comments on this InsideEVS thread a couple of days ago:

It would be a subtle but potentially huge move for Tesla, IMO.

david.baird | December 1, 2013

I would have thought it was in Tesla's interest to encourage Supercharging for all EV's - sure it's nice to have it as a differentiator, but the more cars use it, the more facilities, the more Teslas will be sold.

SamO | December 1, 2013

Tesla is much better off providing HPWCs to hotels for $1000 each with the agreement that the hotel provides the juice.

Superchargers are overkill. As a seller, the Superchargers are too fast and don't keep the customer in place long enough to spend $$$.

SamO | December 1, 2013

Why would Tesla cripple a Supercharger for a non-tesla customer? A leaf or i3 can't handle the charge.

Why would they supply free electricity to (nonpaying) competitors?

Jolinar | December 1, 2013

thx for the link, it's very similar to this. And now imagine that charger would have one more cable with plug which would be SuperCharger so even Model S and X would be able to charge quickly there. That would be so great :)

you are right that selling SuperChargers probably won't make much money for Tesla, however opening SC specification and protocol for public would lead to better EV infrastructure and that would lead to better Tesla sales. No cripled SuperChargers anywhere...

bonaire | December 1, 2013

SamoSam, yes hotels should provide some level of Charging if poasible. But how much and how fast? If you offer 30A J1772 at 240V then that is 20 miles per charging hour. A 10 hour overnight could just about charge a Tesla and would fill a Leaf in four. How many plugs? What if dour EVs show up at a hotel with two stations? How do they jockey the cars at 3am so everyone is charged? Should they allow Volt charging at all? It does get complicated. So much so that hotels really should stay out of providing transportation fuel altogether unless something plausible that would work today and in 20 years similarly. Sure, some posh resorts might offer charging as a perk. But even EV savvy Bill Marriott does not offer much in his many chains of motel brands. We need an eventual EV technical solution of 2C charging components and generous capacities which would allow for not needing long stay overs for long drives. I see this as the 2020 solution, if this isn't solved by then, it could hurt the eventual EV snowball. Te Volt still is quite compelling and if such a range extender is cost effective and the AER of the vehicle raised to 80 miles, as they did with the BMW i3 with small extender, then the solution seems to fit more people's needs. Plus, it requires far less battery cells to allow completion of far more vehicles for more peoples' use.

djm12 | December 1, 2013

I'd also like to see HPWC at hotels. I charged at a painfully slow 17mph rate this weekend. 10 hours for a full charge - and the guest shuffle is no fun.

Koz | December 2, 2013

There is abosolutely value for hotels to offer charging but I'm sure it won't be free and not just yet. With only about 100,000 highway capable plug-ins (mainly Volts and Tesla's, Leafs don't count), there isn't much demand yet. Ultimately, it probably needs to be at an 10-15kw rate for hotels. They'll be plenty of juice hogs compared the plug-ins available now.

I see Tesla Superchargers mainly at Highway and fleet fillup locations. Having a third party incorporating the tech into their supercharging equipement is a quick and cost free way to proliferate Tesla's standard around the world much faster than Tesla can do it by themselves. If there can be a business case made for fee based charging then it can happen pretty quickly. The faster the charging, the easier it is to make a business case.