Published on January 31st, 2016 | by Zachary Shahan


Electric Car Buyers Hugely Attracted To Tesla Supercharger Network

January 31st, 2016 by  

Following our articles on 1) battery preferences of electric car drivers & likely buyers and 2) range requirements + hypothetical range–price tradeoffs, in our 9th article pulled from Electric Cars: What Early Adopters & First Followers Want — a new report from CleanTechnica, EV Obsession, and GAS2 — the topic is charging, charging, charging.

The other side of the range coin is charging. With inductive, wireless charging lining the highways, short range wouldn’t matter. With cars that have several hundred miles of range, core destination charging is probably all you’d need. Of course, we’re currently somewhere in between these two extremes. Since we just discussed range, let’s tackle charging.

I’ve already covered charging in a few sections of this report, and I think it’s useful to recap the highlights in order to quickly show how charging is a double-edged sword for electric cars.

First of all, we found that convenient home charging was one of the key benefits of an EV lifestyle. It was the fourth most popular benefit of EVs according to EV drivers, with 11% choosing it as their favorite benefit. Non-EV owners/lessees put it as #2 overall, only trailing the climate and air quality benefits of EVs.

Chevy Volt chargingOn the other hand, EV drivers put “more abundant EV charging” as the #1 way to promote EV adoption and advance the EV revolution (24.4% of respondents chose that option). Potential owners/lessees put that as the second-best solution, only behind “better financial incentives.”

When asked about the importance of Tesla’s Supercharger network (or some comparable super-fast charging network), 65% of potential owners indicated they would be significantly more attracted to a fully electric model if it had access to Tesla Superchargers or something comparable. (Note that Tesla’s Superchargers charge a car about twice as fast as the next-fastest DC fast chargers on the market.) Only 11% of respondents didn’t care about having access to such a network.


I also asked this question but in relation to a PHEV/EREV. As would be expected, the importance of access to Tesla’s Supercharger network or some comparable super-fast charging network was not so strong. However, some respondents still considered it a big deal. 22% of potential owners indicated they would be significantly more attracted to a PHEV/EREV electric model if it had access to Tesla Superchargers or something comparable. 26% stated they’d be slightly more attracted to such a model. 52% of respondents didn’t care about having access to such a network.

In a separate survey for both EV drivers and potential EV drivers, 29% of respondents indicated that DC fast charging was a requirement for them to consider a fully electric car, 25% indicated that it was very important for them, and 27% indicated it was somewhat important for them. Only 12% indicated it was “quite unimportant” and 7% “not important at all” for them.

DC Fast Charging 1

When asked about the importance of a 6.6 kW onboard charger over a 3.3 kW onboard charger, 32% considered a 6.6 kW onboard charger a requirement, 24% considered it “very important” for them, and 26% considered it “somewhat important” for them. Only 9% said it was “quite unimportant” and 9% not important at all.

The importance of a 10 kW or greater onboard charger over a 6.6 kW onboard charger was less important to people, with 11% considering it a requirement, 16% “very important,” 34% “somewhat important,” 17% “quite unimportant,” and 22% not at all important.

6.6 KW 10 kW

Probably critical to the responses, 85% of respondents in this charging-focused survey indicated they had a place at home where they could charge.

home charging

In yet another survey focused on charging, but only for EV drivers, 26% indicated that they frequently find that current charging infrastructure presents a limitation on where they might want to go with their EV. 29% indicated that it sometimes presented a problem, and 36% indicated “somewhat, but that’s only an issue on long trips.” Only 9% indicated that it never presented a limitation for them. Note that ~30% of respondents drove a PHEV/EREV and ~28% drove a Tesla, indicating that even for the most range-blessed EVs on the market, lack of charging infrastructure still presents limitations in the eyes of owners.

charging limitations

Importantly, the charging station market is still very diverse. This presents some challenges for EV drivers. I asked EV drivers which of eight EV charging websites/apps they had used to scout out EV charging stations. 74% had used PlugShare, 57% ChargePoint, 24% Blink, 14% EVgo, 6% Greenlots, 6% Sun Country Highway, 4% Aerovironment, and 3% EV ChargeHub. Surprisingly, 17% hadn’t used any of them.

EV Charging Sites 1

I also asked non-EV drivers this question, curious to see how aware they were of these services. A whopping 47% hadn’t used any of them. 36% had used PlugShare, 28% ChargePoint, 9% Blink, 6% EVgo, 5% EV ChargeHub, 5% Sun Country Highway, 2% Greenlots, and 2% Aerovironment.

EV Charging Sites 2

Without a doubt, the charging industry needs to mature a lot in order to enable widespread adoption of EVs. It is at a very early stage of development. The industry also needs EV adoption to grow in order to enable financially sustainable business models. The electric car and EV charging markets are growing together (natch), and it will be interesting to see where things stand in 10 years.

You can download the full “Electric Cars: What Early Adopters & First Followers Want” report here.

Report sponsors include Cost of Solar, Plugless, the Low Voltage Vehicle Electrification Event, and Pono Home.

Check out our new 93-page EV report, based on over 2,000 surveys collected from EV drivers in 49 of 50 US states, 26 European countries, and 9 Canadian provinces.

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About the Author

is tryin' to help society help itself (and other species) with the power of the typed word. He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director and chief editor, but he's also the president of Important Media and the director/founder of EV Obsession, Solar Love, and Bikocity. Zach is recognized globally as a solar energy, electric car, and energy storage expert. Zach has long-term investments in TSLA, FSLR, SPWR, SEDG, & ABB — after years of covering solar and EVs, he simply has a lot of faith in these particular companies and feels like they are good cleantech companies to invest in.

  • Marcel Guldemond

    here in Ontario we have a disappointing lack of fast chargers (2 in Toronto, not counting Tesla stations), and it means that when considering buying an EV, for those of us who can’t afford a Tesla, range beyond the current 140km basically doesn’t actually matter. The lack of DC chargers means that we can’t travel between Toronto and Montreal or Ottawa, or get to the cottage (a trip many Ontarians make), even with the 170km Leaf or 330km Bolt, so we still have to factor renting cars for our trips if we decide to use an EV for commuting/errands/city driving. In contrast, just across the Ottawa river, Quebec is putting in DC chargers all over the place.

    I’m still eagerly watching the EV situation, but right now I’m hoping the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV comes in at a reasonable price here, since it won’t require any rentals. I could wait another 2 years for the Model 3, but I’m not sure I’d take that camping either, so it would probably require factoring rentals into the budget too.

  • Bob_Wallace

    Don, you may be right that few people really need rapid chargers, but I suspect most people will want them. People tend to have dreams of taking that long trip to Yellowstone, Disneyland, wherever. They may never experience their dream but they expect to. “If not this summer, then the one after”.

    Assume no difference in quality, range or price between the GM Bolt and Tesla Mod3. I suspect most people would pick the Tesla because they wouldn’t feel limited to only 200 miles. With only 200 miles and no opportunity to recharge at a reasonable rate they are stuck with being able to drive only 100 miles from home. They couldn’t even go from NYC to DC to take the kids to see the Smithsonian.

    • Donald Shaw


      I agree most people will want rapid chargers along the road. But, NY commuters are quite affluent and they need to be convinced that lack of chargers is not a practical reason advoid buying their first electric car, and the benefits of an ev are great.

      These people have 2 ( and frequently 3 and sometimes 4 cars considering the children). (Local high schools are hard pressed to expand paved parking lots for the student’s cars, and many students get brand new cars – perish the thought of having a used car).

      They will normally have a large gasmobile they can use for long trips. so the problem is to convince them that A: ) Their commuter and student cars will never need to be charged except at home overnight and B) there is no reason to hold off buying their 1st electric car because there is no supercharger along the road.

      Unique to the metro area, many families spend their vacations at the Jersey(or other metro area Shore and take 2 cars. A 200 mile EV can get them from North Jersey to most shore destinations without a charge along the road, removing what would otherwise be an impediment for ev adoption. With all the delays and jams on the Garden State Parkway, stopping for a charge would be unacceptable for a 2 – 2/1/2 hour trip

      If this many people then decided they could not stand their gasmobile for long trips, imagine the pressure they could bring to getting more superchargers

      In the real world I seriously wonder if the current car salesmen and dealers would and could perform the necessary selling effort to achieve the above. 2 dealer’s salesmen tried to talk me out of my 2nd Volt (one called the volt a piece of junk)

      Negative factors must be deemphasized. We need a great deal more positive enthusiasm, marketing and sales.

      i have enjoyed your posts over the years


      • Bob_Wallace

        Well, we’ll have GM without a rapid charging system and Tesla with a rapid charging system bringing long range EVs to the market soon. I guess we’ll see how much people do or don’t value the chargers.

  • Freddy D

    Interesting that 85% said that they had a place at home where they could charge. Given that:
    – Multi-family housing often has no place to charge
    – Condo living has grown in recent years
    – Rental properties often will not provide nor allow property modifications for 220V charging
    – Approx one in three Americans live in rented properties
    I wonder if the respondents were self-selected to be more biased toward single-family homes and/or home owners than the average population.

    This also makes me realize how many people I know (including single-family homes) who charge their current generation EVs at 120V. This is feasible for a limited travel car with an 85 mile range. The model falls apart, however, with 200 mile range cars. In other words, 120V charging is really a temporary stop-gap that goes along with 85 mile range EVs, also a temporary step in the journey to a more optimized product, IMHO.

    Implications: It will probably require legislation, incentives, etc, to get landlords and multi-family HOAs to move on L2 home charging. Furthermore, even for single-family homes, the cost to retrofit will be a problem in many cases. A handful of jurisdictions now require new construction to be wired as “EV ready” – just running the wire to the garage. The incremental wiring cost at new construction stage is in the range of 95% less expensive than a retrofit later.

    • Bob_Wallace

      No, a 120 VAC would be fine for almost all drivers even if they had 1,000 mile range EVs. It’s not the range of the car but the number of miles driven on most days. Just have to plug in every day, not wait until the batteries are down.

      The Leaf can charge 5 miles per hour from a 15 amp 120 VAC outlet. That’s 50 miles while parked for ten hours. The typical driving day in the US is less than 40 miles.

      The only drivers who need L2 charging are those who drive a lot of miles very frequently.

      Survey done by Concerned Scientists found that just over 50% of all US drivers have a place to plug in right now. Utility companies are starting to fund thousands of new outlets at apartment and workplace parking lots.
      All that said, if it’s a new install then install 240 VAC. The hardware cost will be only slightly more and the labor should be the same.

      • Freddy D

        Bob, thanks for giving me a challenge here. I’ve heard this “typical driving day in the US is less than 40 miles” statistic too, and as an EV owner, I’ve become much more conscious of range and I’ve become a big fan of 200 mile EVs. We in the EV community have rationalized that we can somehow convince the world that an 85 mile range EV will work. Sorry, but I just don’t buy it – consumers want the option to go further without complexity and special planning. Additionally, the average car in the US goes about 15,000 miles per year – that’s an AVERAGE of 40 miles per day – it’s a mid-point, not a high-water mark.

        The surveys are clearly showing that consumers want:
        – longer range
        – more fast charging
        Honestly, I just don’t see a mainstream future for 120V charging – it would take almost 2 days to charge a Chevy Bolt; a Tesla even longer. If we want to really move the needle on the fact that 99% of the cars sold today will be ICEs, we will need to listen to consumers carefully.

        Totally agree that legislating home-charging infrastructure, particularly for multi-family, is a top priority for governments, including national governments.

        • Bob_Wallace

          I said nothing about 85 or 100 miles being enough range. I may be, in fact, the person who first started talking about 200 miles being the ‘threshold of acceptability’ for most drivers.

          What I reported is that the vast majority of driving days are less than 40 miles. This was found in a joint research project Toyota and GM did years ago. Before GM brought out the Volt.

          Ten hours can charge 50 miles, 12 hours charges 60 on a 120 VAC outlet. There are many, many drivers who rarely drive more than 40 miles in a day.

          Sure, drivers want more range and faster charging. That’s for the few times a year they go for a long drive. If you drive your Tesla batteries almost flat and need more than 40/50 miles the next day then go to a Supercharger and pick up 170 miles in a half hour. Or stay fewer minutes, pick up 130 miles then go home and plug in for the last 40.

          • Otis11

            Exactly. If you do a long trip once per week you can run 40 miles/day and charge 50 miles per day. Then the one day a week drive 110 miles instead of 40.

            You can repeat this ad infinum and never visit a fast charger or do anything above 120V for 10 hours/day.

            Bump it to 12 hours/day and that one day trip goes to 180 miles.

            If you need more than that for an occasional trip – that why they make fast chargers.

            Now, if you regularly exceed 50-60 miles/day and can’t charge at work and at home, then you might need more. For the rest of us though, it doesn’t even really take planning…

      • neroden

        FWIW nearly everyone in the US has 240V AC wiring — and uses it for a dryer, or a stove. It really shouldn’t be any problem to put in a 240V plug for a car.

        • Carl Raymond S

          In Australia, every household power outlet is 240V. It’s very convenient when we visit the in-laws 100km away in the Leaf – 5 or 6 hours and we’re ready to go again. Not sure what percentage of the globe has 240V as standard.

          • Perttu Lehtinen

            It’s usually 240V in Europe and for example here in Finland the 3-phase system is 400V for stoves etc.

        • Bob_Wallace

          Yes. My point was that it will not be necessary for most people who currently have a 120 VAC outlet to upgrade to 240 VAC.

          The average cost for installing a 240 VAC outlet in the US is about $250 (permits, labor, hardware). The cost of installing a 120 VAC outlet would be about the same. If someone has no outlet then they probably should install 240 VAC.

          The only issue might be with an older home that has a 100 amp service. Adding more outlets might require upgrading to 200 amps.

    • Ted Kuntz

      HI Freddy. We have a Tesla Model S. We live in a downtown condo and were able to get the strata to allow connection to a 120v outlet. This works well for us 90% of the time as the amount recovered overnight is sufficient for my daily commute. Occasionally, I need to top up with a level 2 charger, but this is rare. And as the car sits in the parking stall almost all weekend as we walk or bicycle most places, its good to go for Monday morning’s work commute.

  • eveee

    Way to go Zach. No excuses for manufacturers that don’t get the picture. Fast charging means EV sales. EV owners do want the convenience of long distance travel. Fast charging means being able to travel about 200 miles, stop for less than an hour and get 200 miles of range for the next trip. Less and its not even worth the extra battery capacity. Might as well make a 135 mile range EV instead for less money. Who needs over 200 mile city range? The only purpose of over 200 mile range is long trips. Over 200 miles range or less than half hour charge doesn’t add much value as long as you can charge at available stations less than 200 miles apart. TIme for manufacturers to start waking up to the advantage of higher miles/kwhr, too. (on the highway, not city)

    • Otis11

      The one advantage I see to larger battery cars is the charging – only the first 70% charges quickly. That means a 200 mile EV will fast-charge 140 miles – a reasonable amount. A 135 mile EV will only fast charge 94.5 miles. A bit annoying for long trips.

      • eveee

        The first 70% does charge faster, but that applies more to fully discharged. Thats what it really should say. Charging rates are a function of the difference between internal voltage and charger set voltage. When a battery is fully discharged, the internal voltage is lowest. If you charged a battery that was at 30% DoD (Depth of Discharge) up to 100%, it would charge more slowly than a battery charged from 0% DoD to 70% DoD for that reason. I would never recommend you discharge your battery to 0%. It kills lifetime.
        For lifetime, charge fully, but drive away soon so you don’t leave the battery voltage high and near full charge. Telsas have a feature that charges locally only to 80%. That extends battery life. Best to normally charge slowly overnight and keep the DoD between 30% and 70%. Then the battery will last a long time. Teslas should go way beyond 100k miles. All these are the reasons why S 60 has a battery mileage limit, but S 85 is unlimited. The seats will wear out before the battery needs replacing. Unless you do those bad things I mentioned. Tesla has built the 80% charge and hid the max discharge so you can’t destroy the battery easily.

        • Otis11

          Right, I understand that… but is that not a solid argument for larger batteries? Less extreme cycling and faster rapid-charging?

          • eveee

            Yes. Definitely. Sorry. Should have made that clearer. That seems to be Teslas game plan. The idea is that the user never really uses all that pack. Pack lifetimes become extraordinary. In all this, it seems like the sweet spot is a large battery capable of 200 mile range and an EV with good aero efficiency.
            Thats what I like about Musk (and Straubel and friends) . He’s really thinking solutions out. These are real EV guys.

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