Free Fuel Forever, Elon Musk’s Tesla Supercharger Network
Nothing that Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla Motors and Chairman of SolarCity, has done has been without its fair share of Musk ambition. Quietly, for the last few months, Tesla Motors and SolarCity have collaborated to design, manufacture, and install six electric vehicle [EV] superchargers in different locations in California. Two of them are completely solar-powered, with the other four to be converted shortly. Musk unveiled the entire plan on Monday, where he announced that this was just the beginning. He plans to have an entire network of solar-powered Tesla Superchargers across the US and Canada within the next five years. An ambitious plan, indeed, but not without reason.
Musk called the Supercharger “the answer to the three major problems holding back electric vehicles.” Range is the biggest concern. Even class-leading EV range, over 250 miles for the Tesla Model S, still requires hours to recharge on an LII [240 V] charger. Clearly, long trips are out of the question. Secondly, some parts of the power grid are not environmentally friendly, powered by hydrocarbon fuels which release carbon-dioxide [CO2] into the atmosphere. This would defeat the purpose of a zero-tailpipe-emissions EV like the Tesla Model S. Finally, there is the cost of electricity, which in some parts of the country could calculate more than 5¢/mi and doesn’t include upwards of $2000 for an LII charger installation.
To give consumers and answer to these concerns, the up-and-coming Tesla Supercharger Network will be made available free to owners of Tesla Model S vehicles, free, powered by sunlight, indefinitely. The new LIII [480 V] chargers will be entirely solar-powered, and have a charge rate from 100 kW to 120 kW, meaning that a half charge or 120 miles, will take about 30 minutes. A full charge will take about an hour. There is one caveat, though, because Tesla designed its own LIII charger connector, it won’t be compatible with any EVs other than the Tesla Model S with the 60 kWh or 85 kWh battery packs. Still, to prove the point that an EV can be as useful as any petroleum-powered vehicle, Musk certainly knows how to give an answer.