What are the biggest drawbacks of driving an electric car today? Elon Musk has solutions.
In an event Tesla and SpaceX CEO, Elon Musk described as being just as important as the SpaceX ISS cargo mission this summer, he unveiled his plans to solve practical problems of electric vehicle ownership with a new network of charging stations. He revealed six stations are already in place as of today that let you drive from Lake Tahoe to San Francisco to Los Angeles and then on to Las Vegas opening up a sizable portion of California and Nevada to people wishing to take their Teslas a little further than the corner grocery store.
Within two years Musk says Tesla plans to have installed a network that goes from coast to coast, making a cross country trip in an electric car a practical reality.
The superchargers will give their 85 kWh battery a 150 mile range in 30 minutes. While that’s a bit longer wait than at the gas pump, the charging is free to all Tesla Model S owners. Buying a car that gets free energy for life is a radical, game changing idea – the kind of thing Musk has become known for.
The charging stations will be covered in solar panels (provided by Musk’s other company, Solar City) and put power back into the grid when not charging up the Superchargers.
The revelation of the Superchargers gives us some insight into Musk’s grander vision for Tesla. It’s not just a company that makes electric cars, it’s a transportation system. He could be well on his way to changing the electric car the way Apple did the phone.
Here’s Tesla’s official press release:
TESLA MOTORS LAUNCHES REVOLUTIONARY SUPERCHARGER ENABLING CONVENIENT LONG DISTANCE DRIVING
DRIVE THE MODEL S ELECTRIC CAR ANYWHERE IN THE COUNTRY ON PURE SUNLIGHT FOR FREE
MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 24, 2012
Tesla Motors (NASDAQ: TSLA) today unveiled its highly anticipated Supercharger network. Constructed in secret, Tesla revealed the locations of the first six Supercharger stations, which will allow the Model S to travel long distances with ultra fast charging throughout California, parts of Nevada and Arizona.
The technology at the heart of the Supercharger was developed internally and leverages the economies of scale of existing charging technology already used by the Model S, enabling Tesla to create the Supercharger device at minimal cost. The electricity used by the Supercharger comes from a solar carport system provided by SolarCity, which results in almost zero marginal energy cost after installation. Combining these two factors, Tesla is able to provide Model S owners1 free long distance travel indefinitely.
Each solar power system is designed to generate more energy from the sun over the course of a year than is consumed by Tesla vehicles using the Supercharger. This results in a slight net positive transfer of sunlight generated power back to the electricity grid. In addition to lowering the cost of electricity, this addresses a commonly held misunderstanding that charging an electric car simply pushes carbon emissions to the power plant. The Supercharger system will always generate more power from sunlight than Model S customers use for driving. By adding even a small solar system at their home, electric car owners can extend this same principle to local city driving too.
The six California locations unveiled today are just the beginning. By next year, we plan to install Superchargers in high traffic corridors across the continental United States, enabling fast, purely electric travel from Vancouver to San Diego, Miami to Montreal and Los Angeles to New York. Tesla will also begin installing Superchargers in Europe and Asia in the second half of 2013.
The Supercharger is substantially more powerful than any charging technology to date, providing almost 100 kilowatts of power to the Model S, with the potential to go as high as 120 kilowatts in the future. This can replenish three hours of driving at 60 mph in about half an hour, which is the convenience inflection point for travelers at a highway rest stop. Most people who begin a road trip at 9am would normally stop by noon to have lunch, refresh and pick up a coffee or soda for the road, all of which takes about 30 minutes.
“Tesla’s Supercharger network is a game changer for electric vehicles, providing long distance travel that has a level of convenience equivalent to gasoline cars for all practical purposes. However, by making electric long distance travel at no cost, an impossibility for gasoline cars, Tesla is demonstrating just how fundamentally better electric transport can be,” said Elon Musk, Tesla Motors co-founder and CEO. “We are giving Model S the ability to drive almost anywhere for free on pure sunlight.”
1. Supercharging hardware is standard on Model S vehicles equipped with an 85 kWh battery and optional on Model S vehicles equipped with a 60 kWh battery.
ABOUT MODEL S
With the most energy-dense battery pack in the industry and best-in-class aerodynamics, Model S has the longest range of any production electric car in the world. Model S comes with three battery options to fit the unique needs of different drivers. The 85 kWh Model S has received a U.S. fuel economy rating of 89MPGe and an EPA rated range of 265 miles.
Model S is the first premium sedan designed from the ground up to take full advantage of electric vehicle architecture. A revolutionary powertrain sits under the floorboard of Model S, creating an ultra-low center of gravity. Paired with an aluminum body engineered for superior handling, Tesla has created a vehicle that raises the bar for performance and efficiency while meeting the highest standards for safety.
Without an internal combustion engine or transmission tunnel, the interior of Model S has more cargo space than any other sedan in its class and includes a second trunk under the hood. Model S seats five adults and two children in optional rear-facing child seats. Model S Performance models accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in under 4.4 seconds. The interior features a 17″ in-dash touchscreen with internet capabilities, allowing for streaming radio, web browsing and navigation.
Customers can reserve a Model S at one of Tesla’s retail stores or online.
Tesla’s goal is to accelerate the world’s transition to electric mobility. Palo Alto, California-based Tesla designs and manufactures EVs and EV power train components for partners such as Toyota and Daimler. Tesla has delivered more than 2,350 Roadsters to customers worldwide. Model S, the first premium sedan to be built from the ground up as an electric vehicle, began deliveries in June 2012.