Tesla CEO Elon Musk was on Twitter this morning responding to a few questions – primarily about the new Easter Eggs the company included in its latest updates, but I thought maybe we could get a proper ‘Elon Tweetstorm’ on Christmas eve so I asked him about an update on Tesla’s plans to install solar arrays at Supercharger stations? He had this to say:
Tesla indeed operates a few Supercharger stations with solar arrays – like the Hawthorne Supercharger pictured above – but they only represent a small fraction of Tesla’s 760+ stations. But more importantly, It’s the first time we’ve heard about a third generation of Tesla’s Supercharger and that’s not all, Musk also hinted at a power output greater than 350 kW – up from the current ~150 kW.
We recently reported on automakers and charging station manufacturers starting to build what they are referring to as ‘ultra-fast’ charging stations with a power output of up to 350 kW. Five major automakers recently joined forces to deploy 400 of those stations in Europe and more recently, EVgo announced a similar station in California.
I asked Musk if we are talking about a similar power output for Tesla’s upcoming ‘Supercharger V3’ and the CEO, as he is wont to do got a little cocky:
It looks like Musk is teasing a power output greater than “a mere 350 kW”. It would be a significant upgrade and depending on the deployment schedule, it could blow past the stations from other companies planned only for late 2017 and 2018.
The latest version of the Supercharger brought the capacity to 145 kW – meaning that over 350 kW would be something else entirely.
After unveiling the Supercharger in 2012, Tesla CTO JB Straubel said that Tesla aims to bring the charging down to 5 to 10 minutes:
“It’s not going to happen in a year from now. It’s going to be hard. But I think we can get down to five to 10 minutes,”
It looks like this new Supercharger version could enable Straubel’s vision for electric vehicle charging depending on how many kW greater than 350 we are talking about here.
Musk also hinted that with solar arrays and Tesla’s new Powerpack, some Supercharger stations in sunny regions could be off-grid:
The timeline for this updated Supercharger network is not clear, but as Musk mentioned, “pieces are now in place” with the acquisition of SolarCity and the release of the new Powerpack 2.
Of course, the greater power output is not the only new feature expected to be introduced with the Supercharger V3. It is also expected to feature the “robotic snake cable” to enable autonomous charging without having to get out of the car or for self-driving vehicles without anyone in them.
A little back of napkin math here:
700kW x 1 hour= 700kWh so divide by 10: 6 minutes would give you 70kWh. That’s enough to drive for about 4 hours or 250 miles. Gas fuel pumps in the US pump 5-10 gallons per minute so add a 2 minute credit card transaction and you get about 20-40 gallons in the same time period. We’re now coming close to parity with gasoline.
The fast supercharger speed may also be why Tesla has abandoned the battery swap stations for consumer vehicles.
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