Concept art (via Tesla Motors)
Tesla Motor says its goal is to “accelerate the world’s transition to electric mobility.” On Monday, the company’s CEO, Elon Musk, made an announcement he thinks is as historic as his other private company, SpaceX, docking with the ISS. Although this statement had nothing to do with commercial space travel, the message has potential to change the way consumers travel in the near future. Tesla disclosed that the first stage of a Supercharger network has already been constructed, and it will provide Model S car owners with free charging indefinitely.
The technology within the Supercharger was made by Tesla and SolarCity, yet another company of which Musk is a chairman. Leveraging this collaboration with the economy of scale of existing charging technology for the Model S, Musk says the cost of producing and installing the new network has almost zero marginal costs. For this reason, Tesla will be allowing Model S owners to charge their cars at these stations for free.
Tesla Supercharger locations. I question the bubbles branching out into the ocean. Does the Tesla Model S float too? (via Tesla Motors)
The Supercharger gets its name from delivering 100 kW of power to the battery compared to the Model S’s onboard 10kW chargers. This allows for a full charge in 30 mins that will last 3 hours when driving 60 mph. Tesla notes that for people on a road trip, 30 minute breaks every 3 hours is necessary so convenience is not compromised. They also stated that the technology has potential to deliver 120 kW in the future which would make for even faster charging time.
The already-operating section of network is comprised of 6 locations scattered in California. By next year, Tesla will expand dramatically by adding stations in high-traffic highways across the entire U.S. to allow free long-distance travel across the country. By the end of 2013, the company will have set up Supercharger stations in Europe and Asia.
Tesla is especially excited about this network because they say it tackles common arguments against electric vehicles. Tesla designed the stations so that they produce more electricity than is used by drivers per year so there is a net output of energy back into the grid and thus extra carbon emissions are not needed. Musk also pointed out the intrinsic advantage to electric transportation, “[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, we are giving Model S the ability to drive almost anywhere for free on pure sunlight."
Now it is just a matter of the $50,000 price tag on the Model S...
[UPDATE] The Supercharger system will not work with other electric vehicles, only the Model S.