For all EVs, charging facilities are very important. All EV manufacturers provide customers with home chargers. However, it is the public charging facilities that matter more. The availability of compatible public chargers can make or break a product. It also increases the usability of the EV. On this front, Tesla’s supercharging network is the best one in the world. The frequency of the charging stations coupled with the easy availability of fast charging makes it very convenient.
Tesla’s Supercharging Network
One of the main reasons behind Tesla’s success is the Supercharging Network. It is a series of charging stations that provide customers with fast, public charging points. It was launched in 2012. Not only is the number of such stations very high, but it is also very economical to use it. As of November 2020, there are 2016 stations worldwide. Tesla operates over 20,000 Superchargers at these stations. 1042 of the stations are located in North America, 559 in Europe, and 415 in the Asia Pacific region.
While this number is big, the real clincher is the ease of use and convenience provided by this network. Since all the chargers are used by Tesla cars, the company is able to provide extra data to customers. This includes the number of chargers available at a certain station, the stations that are nearest to you on your route, and so on. This sort of service isn’t provided by any other EV manufacturer yet.
Fees for using the Network
A supercharger provides the user with a 480-volt direct, fast charging current. There are 3 types of connectors that provide maximums of 72 kW, 150kW, and 250kW of power. The first car to be able to use the network was the Model S. It was followed by the Model X, 3, and Y. Some Tesla cars have free Supercharging access for life, some have 100-400 kWh per year, some have a single 100-400 kWh credit, and the rest have a monetary credit. It depends on the kind of Supercharging package the owner purchases.
There is also a fee that owners have to pay if the car remains connected to a Supercharger after it is fully charged. It is flexible in terms of the availability of the Superchargers. If the station is less than half full, there is no fee. If it is at least 50% full, there is a fee of $0.50 per minute. And if the station is 100% full, the fee is $1.00 per minute.
Map of upcoming superchargers
Tesla recently unveiled a new map of the upcoming superchargers. This includes the existing and new stations.
This shows all the stations that exist in the whole world. However, this map isn’t entirely accurate. Sometimes Tesla includes a pin on the map for a station that has been approved but hasn’t been built. If the owner selects such a station, the map shows by when the station will be functional.
While the presence of such pins isn’t ideal, at least the owner is provided with information that will be useful for them in the future.
This is the map of existing and proposed stations in the eastern part of the USA. The red pins mark the existing stations and the grey ones mark the proposed stations. The density of the stations is commendable. It will provide any potential Tesla owner with some peace of mind when they actually purchase a car.
The improvements that have happened in the Network
In 2019, Tesla launched the V3 of the Supercharger. This allows Tesla to charge cars at 250 kW. This speed can add 1,000 miles (1,600 km) of charging in an hour. However, the vehicles cannot sustain such heavy charging speeds. Hence, they are limited to a lower speed of charging. Most charging sessions last between 30 to 45 minutes. Tesla announced that at the end of 2020, they had 20,000 Superchargers available for use in 2,100 stations around the world. But, only Tesla owners can use the network right now. However, this is down to the compatibility issues that other cars have with the Superchargers. Tesla and Elon Musk have consistently claimed that EVs from other manufacturers can use the Supercharging network as long as they can connect to the chargers. This puts the ball in the court of the manufacturers to introduce such compatibility.
The Tesla Station plans
In 2013, there were plans to introduce Tesla Stations. These stations would provide owners with extremely fast battery swaps. It would also include fast recharge for the Model S and X. However, there was no update on this till December 2014. Then Tesla announced a revision to its Tesla Station plan. A single station was launched in California where owners could get the battery swapped by appointment. It was available only to Model S owners. The main aim of the station was to assess the economical and technical feasibility of the plan. Tesla also planned to use the demand for the station to decide whether it was feasible to launch more such stations. The service was priced and took about 3 minutes (as opposed to the 90-second demonstration in 2013). However, by June 2015, Tesla announced that battery swaps were no longer a part of their plan.
This increase in the number of Superchargers is good news. It is encouraging for markets like India to see that Tesla is expanding the network at such a rapid pace. This will mean well for potential owners around the world and will also bring EVs another step closer to potentially replace ICE cars.