The Koybayashi of Charging Stations, American Capitalism, and the Rolling Stones

The Koybayashi of Charging Stations, American Capitalism, and the Rolling Stones


It seems my last “marshmallow test” post has turned into an interesting discussion concerning whether Tesla will be able to sell enough cars to the American public to begin an amazing change in the country toward electric vehicles or will the perceived or apparent lack of places to charge the car on long trips will slow down (or be the demise) of it’s electric cars sales.
 Here are my thoughts and I apologize for being long winded.
The Koybashi Maru (explained later to non-trekies)  is that Tesla won’t be able to sell it’s cars at a much higher level because consumers are concerned that the lack of national charging stations will leave them stranded on the side of the road on long car trips.  The consumer believes there are not enough charging stations around due to the low volume of electric car sales..
(The classic “no win scenario” known star trek fans is the famous Kobayashi Maru.. . A video version is  of the Kobayashi Maru is here: )
Luckily, you don’t have to be Capt Kirk to beat the famous Koybashi Maru , you just have to plan in advance for the scenario of going to far (into Klingon Territory).
There are according to the Ford Motor Company currently some 9,400 public charging stations in the United States  (others have an estimate of closer to 4,500). More Importantly ,there are easy ways to find all of them whenever you travel .
Google has got involved in the movement by adding charging stations to it’s Google map program.
My favorite is plugshare where not only can you find every public charging station on this great app but you can also find  people who volunteer their outlets outside their home to strangers to keep the electric car movement moving forward.
The question is, even with ton’s of charging stations and easy ways to find them, will the average consumer switch to an electric vehicle or will range anxiety win the battle .  The problem seems to be that the consumer doesn’t see the vision of themselves charging at a station whenever they go to the mall, a parking garage or at a restaurant but rather a vision of them stuck on the side of the road helpless (with wolves ready to attack).  It’s clear, this false vision doesn’t come from seeing dozens of electric cars stranded on the side of the road every time they drive, so it apparent  we need to due a better job spreading the word about charge stations and how infrequently one would need them but how available they are for use if needed.  (Ask your neighbor how many electric charging stations he/she thinks are in a 200 mile radius and see what they guess) It may make sense as (future/current) Tesla owners when we are discussing and showing people our electric car we also  show them your Recargo or Plugshare screen and app.  The companies that set up free apps to help you find charging stations can’t afford to advertise their product to mass consumers.  Thinking of the worst case scenario rather then a more logical one is a very similar metaphor in explaining why people play the lottery.  If we had news stories every time anyone lost the lottery, over and over again then vision of them winning the lottery would be much less in their mind of actually happening and they would probably save the $20. See at the 6 minute mark. In essence we need to give people visions of electriccars at charging stations to change the image of being stranded..
American capitalism has always anticipated over the years to plan for their financial future and realizes the fact that people who drive long distances need to both eat and sleep( hence the number of fast food places and hotels near major interstates) .  Capitalism, also dictates that the best way to sell your goods (other then the internet)  is to have the consumer walk into your store to shop. So recently Kroger and Cracker Barrel have started to install charging stations to get consumers with electric cars in their stores
  Other retail chains  are also now following suit see Walgeens and their opening of 800 of them
but more importantly, there are companies  installing the chargers free of charge to retailers... see link below  
Logically, it seems that as more stores in an area offer electric charging stations and attract consumers , their competitors would need to follow suit to avoid possible financial distress.  Imagine that at every Mc Donalds, Burger King, Subway, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell there was a charging station.  Can anyone imagine driving 250 miles in this country without bumping into one of these stores?  As for the hotels you may need to sleep at, imagine Best Western, Holiday Inn, Marriott, Days Inn and the Comfort Inn all had charging stations you could reserve for the night along with your hotel room.  The concern for long trips by the average consumer would be substantially diminished as American capitalism takes over
The bottom line is, without charging stations in constant plain sight corner some people might still see that vision of themselves stuck on a dark night stranded on the side of the road and not buy an electric car because of that  vision.  On the other hand ,with maps of current 9.400 public charging stations readily available in your car along  with  the idea that more private companies are putting them in to be competitive, most consumers might avoid the scary vision and follow the advice of the Rolling Stones when they said...“You can’t always get what you want. But if you try sometimes, you just might find, you get what you need.”
Signed Racer X (friend of the Tesla family and brother of Speed Racer)
PS   Maybe we should in the mean time follow the advice of the classic corvettes owners.  They also have a forum with both  posts and recommend protocols for their forum members like:
 1) If you see another classic corvette coming toward your direction you must wave
 2) If another classic corvette is in trouble you should help. 
PSS I would humbly suggest the first unofficial rule for all Tesla owners:
RULE 1)   No Tesla owner should ever drive by kids on the street selling lemonade  without stopping and buying some even if they are not thirsty!  (This way we can talk to the next generation about electric cars and can change the world slowly while at the same time sipping great lemonade and supporting young American Capitalism ) Who’s with me?

bfranks273 | 1 augustus 2012

Totally, on the lemonade. Need a week or so to get through the epistle. Shouldnt we be waving too? At both us and Corvettes. After all these are going to be huge collectors items too in 60 years.

Crow | 1 augustus 2012

I thought your post was going to be about hot dog eating contests. How disappointing.

jbunn | 1 augustus 2012

Perhaps to put it another way, the koybayashi maru represents an unsolvable problem IF you accept the existing constraints. Only if. Thats the solution. You are only trapped in the box if you accept there is a box.

brianman | 1 augustus 2012

There is no Dana, only spoon.

Vawlkus | 2 augustus 2012

Compare the number of gas stations to the number of electrical outlets in a given area. Which number do you think is higher? }B)

MandL | 2 augustus 2012

Great post, great suggestions. Only one HUGE problem... where to put that small paper cup of sugary sweet lemonade with such drastically sub-optimal cup holders? Until Tesla comes up with a properly located, fully gimballed cup holder for each seat that will allow us to store a flimsy open cup without worry of spillage under way, I suggest we park, get out, buy and enjoy our refreshing drink, then pop the frunk and place the paper cup in the recycling bin strategically located there. Now we just need some cool catch phrase to say as we leave, like "to infinity and beyond!" but obviously more Tesla-ish

Nexxus | 2 augustus 2012

First time to the forums...just thought I'd add my 2 cents.

Love the Model S and can't wait to get one. Haven't reserved yet because of $$$ constraints, but in the near future.

With and electric vehicle you can by-pass all the gas stations all of the time, but you might want to stop some of the time. Every gas station I've been to has external outlets of some sort. I'm sure an arrangement could be made with the proprietor to recharge your car for a nominal fee (like getting gas).

I know that all the rest areas in our state (Virginia) have or will be getting charging stations in them within the next year. Passed the state legislature in 2010. I know the I64 rest areas already have them. Looks like trips to the beach just got easier for the all-electrics.

Good forum. Love the threads and postings for all that's been Tesla since I heard about Elon and his companies (Space-X included). I'm a rocket engineer but I work for one of his competitors. The man has great ideas though and sees them through.


michiganmodels | 2 augustus 2012

Great post.

Currently, I'd recommend using the Model S web browser to find charging stations:

This is the US Department of Energy's site:

jerry3 | 2 augustus 2012

Most likely, the only time you'll be using charging stations on a Model S is during trips. Today, the normal charging stations are only 30 amp which makes for a painfully slow charge. You're best bet is RV parks which have 50 amp circuits and make charging faster. Eventually there will be 70 amp chargers but these are rolling out slowly.

And of course, when the Tesla supercharger network is in place, charging on trips will be a breeze.

Brian H | 2 augustus 2012

A rare breeze. Not recommended for routine use!!

murraypetera | 2 augustus 2012

Lets hope they add the High Power Tesla chargers at the Supercharger network sites for us 40kwh cars.

I also cannot understand (other than for marketing) why they do not want to offer the supercharger for the 40khw battery. If they can offer direct DC in the Leaf or Mitsubishi i-MiEV they why can't Tesla?

They could limit the DC charge rate based off battery size to control damage.

Teoatawki | 2 augustus 2012


I believe they could limit the dc charge rate for 40kwh cars, but chose not to for one or more of the following reasons:

1) with the small battery pack, you're looking at a "commuter" vehicle, not really intended for extended road trips.
2) supercharging is tough on the larger packs, and for a long road trip, you would need to supercharge multiple times daily, which is not recommended.
3) the supercharger network would need many more superchargers spaced much closer together to support 40kwh cars.
4) the charge rate would need to be limited to the point that the supercharger and a regular HPC rates wouldn't really make enough difference to be worth the extra cost for the onboard hardware.
5) the extra stress of supercharging (even at a rate based on a 40kwh pack) would force Tesla to reduce the warranty on those packs.

jerry3 | 2 augustus 2012


In addition to Teoatawki's great list, the DC chargers for the Leaf, etc. are (I believe) 70 amp chargers (someone correct me if I'm wrong about this). That's lower than the 80 amp HPC that you can install in your house. The superchargers are quite a bit higher.

David70 | 2 augustus 2012

I though they could use the 50kW DC chargers, but I could be wrong. In any case it's not nearly as much as the Superchargers offer.

David70 | 2 augustus 2012

Thought, not though.

Sudre_ | 2 augustus 2012

Jerry is right about the 30 amp charging. When I drove to Chicago a few months ago I was disappointed that all the chargers (I stopped by all of them between St Louis and Chicago) were only 208 volt 30 amp. Even the 85kw battery wouldn't make the trip without a 2 hour charge (partial) with those useless chargers.

I keep waiting for the BiG announcement and hoping.