Tesla Makes Full-Court Press With Destination Charging

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With Model 3 on the horizon, Tesla is gently reshaping the way it talks about its public charging network. In the Model 3 unveiling event, Elon Musk mentioned that Tesla would be doubling the size of the current Supercharging network but quadrupling (4X!) the size of the Destination Charging program.

It may not have been a red flag to everyone listening in, but it is a huge statement about how Tesla is thinking about the Tesla public charging network in light of the insane volumes of Model 3s that will be on roads around the world in just a few years time.

dest_charging_hero destination
Image courtesy Tesla Motors

To reflect this shift in a more intentional manner, Tesla swapped out “Supercharging” in the header of its website for “Charging.” It still maps to the Supercharger page, but on that page, Destination Charing takes a more prominent position, with a direct link in the header and a refreshed landing page for Destination Charging.

tesla_charging destination
Screen capture from TeslaMotors.com

Supercharging vs Destination Charging

As Destination Charging is newer on the scene and the differences between it and Supercharging may not be clear to everyone, here’s a quick rundown of the big differences between the programs.

With Superchargers, Tesla pays for everything other than the land itself. That includes the purchase and installation of the Superchargers as well as the ongoing electricity fees, which can be significant, as charging EVs at high speeds can very quickly put the Supercharging station into higher usage tiers, incurring demand charges that add up quickly. Charging throughput can peak out around 175 amps. Imagine the usage spike from 10 Teslas pulling 100+ amps each:

20160422_140403 destination
Image Credit: Kyle Field, CleanTechnica

Destination Charging is a network of chargers that Tesla pays for (the hardware) that are then installed and owned by the property owner. The property owner is then responsible for defining the terms and conditions for use of the chargers — for example, customers only, residents only, my wife — and for supplying the power. This is great for Tesla because the upfront cost of the hardware is relatively cheap, and the company gets to add another location to the ever-growing list of destination chargers in cars and online.

It’s also great for property owners, as they get added to an exclusive list of sites offering Tesla charging and can advertise Tesla charging as a service. On the flipside, they have to buck up the cash for the install and, obviously, ongoing usage charges for power. This seems like a no-brainer for most hotels, as the electricity used would likely be minimal relative to the number of new clients pulled in by the additional service of onsite charging.

I used this service during a recent trip down to Anaheim, staying where I did specifically due to the onsite charging. Charging speeds for Destination Chargers is typically from 30–50 amps, with 100 amp chargers being rare, as the extra capacity only really helps owners with the dual charger option.

A Push for Destination Charging

Given the much lighter upfront investment and absence of ongoing costs for Destination Charging to Tesla … other than running the website … it seems obvious that Tesla would make a larger effort to promote Destination Charging, and that’s exactly what we’re seeing now.

In support of the increases in public charging that will be required and committed over the next 2 years, Tesla is also looking across the pond and has now launched the Destination Charging program in Europe. This launch brings the value of this distributed, more granular network to all of the dedicated masses in Europe and offers a way for property owners in Europe to get in on the action by requesting and installing chargers on their property to support the rEVolution.

Tesla has also made visible changes in support of the effort to more intentionally promote Destination Charging, which we can see on the website. As Destination Charging is a “pull” program, Tesla has improved the visibility of the “request a charger” section of the page in support of the new push for Destination Charging.

destcharge_invite destination
Screen capture from TeslaMotors.com

Property owners in the US and Europe can now request a destination charger from the main Destination Charging page, down near the bottom. Whether it’s to selflessly promote EVs or to selfishly get on Tesla’s charging map early and get some free charging gear, it’s a great way to get a bit more familiar with EV culture and maybe even get to know a few EV drivers in the process. 🙂

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Kyle Field

I'm a tech geek passionately in search of actionable ways to reduce the negative impact my life has on the planet, save money and reduce stress. Live intentionally, make conscious decisions, love more, act responsibly, play. The more you know, the less you need. As an activist investor, Kyle owns long term holdings in Tesla, Lightning eMotors, Arcimoto, and SolarEdge.

Kyle Field has 1638 posts and counting. See all posts by Kyle Field

46 thoughts on “Tesla Makes Full-Court Press With Destination Charging

  • So how does the destination charger work? Just plug it in, or are there any physical access restrictions (key, RFID card…)? In the US, Tesla has its proprietary plug, but in Europe they just use the Mennekes Type2 plug.

    • It’s a charger with a Tesla style plug (same plug as the supercharger). Often looks like this:

      No key or RFID, credit card reader, or screen. As the article said, property owners can restrict access using gates, signs, etc, or even charge extra for the service… although it seems very difficult for owners to charge extra short of posting a guard at the parking entry to check what you’re driving. Perhaps that’s Elon’s secret plan. It seems like most property owners so far are offering it as a free bonus to attract Tesla-driving clients. As we all know, Model S owners will tend to throw money around in gratitude at such establishments. Of course once the Model 3 owner riff-raff hit the streets, all these destination charger owners will have major regrets as their electricity bills skyrocket and 3 owners walk across the street to patronize Starbucks! 😉

      • Thanks. I still wonder about the details for the european version, as Tesla uses plain Type 2 (Mennekes) Plugs there. That would, in theory, allow any Type 2 capable EV to use a Tesla Destination Charger… unless Tesla did incorporate some sort of detection in the charger.

        • That’s been a question for me as well. Curious to learn more about how that works.

        • Tesla uses a Mennekes 2 shaped cable in Europe but the protocol is different than an L2 Mennekes 2 charger. Tesla has verified that Superchargers talk to the car to verify its individual identity which, theoretically, makes it impossible for a non-Tesla to use Superchargers even if they manage to talk the protocol. Unless they impersonate a real vehicle.

          But the destination chargers don’t seem to be as advanced/protected. This video shows someone has home built an adapter to charge a BMW i3 off a Tesla destination charger: http://insideevs.com/bmw-i3-charging-tesla-hpwc-video/

          I suspect Tesla won’t mind such a practice since they aren’t paying for the electricity, and I doubt property owners will mind as they’re still attracting additional patrons to their establishment. Then again, Tesla owners might mind if all the chargers are occupied by other EVs…

          Of course if everyone in the area installs destination charging then nobody is actually attracting patrons with the chargers and they’re just spending money on electricity. Maybe Tesla has limited the number of chargers it allows within a certain radius for any particular business type. That would be smart.

          • Thanks for your insight!

          • “Of course if everyone in the area installs destination charging then nobody is actually attracting patrons with the chargers and they’re just spending money on electricity.”

            If they don’t attract patrons – they do not have to worry about paying for electricity!

          • If everyone in the area has EV chargers, then those with EVs aren’t swayed to stay at any particular place due to chargers. Instead, they’ll stay at whatever place has other features they’re looking for. That place will still pay for the electricity to charge their EV even though the charger wasn’t what attracted the business.

      • Really, riff-raff?

        • Yes, really! 😉

          Ok, no, not really. I’d hoped the winking smiley would make that clear but my dreams have now been shattered.

  • I would imagine that every hotel would embrace putting in destination charging as well as perhaps fast charging stations to try to gain more business from upward mobile clients.
    Why ?
    Because the type of people who own a Tesla are discerning in their choice of destination and will obviously be inclined toward using your facility with obvious benefits to the hotel etc.

    Why do i say discerning because they obviously are just a bit in front of the curve perhaps.

    • Fast charging isn’t a benefit at hotels because their function is to house people overnight. That allows plenty of time for a destination charger to top up a car.

      • It’s a benefit if it attracts patrons to their restaurants and bars.

        • :/ Yeah…but that’s not their primary function. I could see DCFCs popping up at restaurants…that makes sense.

          • In the 20th C. the primary benefit of an automobile was not to be a rolling status symbol. Yet by the time the Model T was at it’s zenith, cars did so well at this that they supplanted pianos at this function, and piano sales had a precipitous crash in per capita sales, from which they never recovered.

            And although “that’s not their primary function” the growth of auto use shows that their secondary or tertiary functions can redirect capital flows at large scales.

  • I anticipate once Tesla starts rolling out 200-500k Model 3’s per year that you will see a big chain partner with Tesla on destination charging. For years the increased quality at Gas Station food(like Sheetz and Wawa in the North East) has taken away from a lot of fast food and fast casual revenue. Would not be surprised if someone like a Pizza Hut or Chipotle partnered with Tesla to roll out the destination charging faster. Of course it could be a Target, Old Navy or even a hair cutting chain that could get the idea to do something like this. The “Gas station” of the future could be anywhere and some COE somewhere will jump on this opportunity.

    • I fully agree. I’m surprised it has taken this long. It’s a no brainer for all hotels and shopping centers with quite a few other spots being easy wins as well.

      • I am in the middle of TN. There are 10 CCS chargers and 3 SC chargers in the entire state. But pretty much ever hotel in my area offer at a min level 1 chargers. Many offer level 2.

    • In the East Bay Area, Blink chargers are at every McDonald’s, maybe 10% of Walgreen’s have eVgo chargers, and 4 cities’ hall sport ChargePoint.

  • Once Tesla drop free charging, the case for a proprietary network evaporates. If a business wants to offer paying charging as a service, it will prefer an open standard.

    • Tesla’s charging was never “free”. It was included in the cost of the car. With the Model 3, there is speculation that Supercharging will either be (1) an extra-cost option on the car (2) pay-per-use, but it’s all speculation at this point.

      • Aaron – can you please share a link to this speculation? I was always curious about that. “Free” model makes sense on low scale as marketing tool and allows to skip developing payment system but IMHO it’s no go for system of milions of cars.

        • I’ve played with the numbers. Assume no more than five out of 100 Tesla drivers takes a 500 mile trip on the longest day of the year. (Five is probably high.) If five then all could be charged in a three hour lunch window between 11AM an 2PM. Thirty minutes each plus a little swap car time.

          100 cars. $2,000 each (based on the previous option in for the S). $200,000. Each Supercharger bay apparently costs a little under $20,000. That leaves $180,000 to invest in solar and wind farms. Farms make electricity, sell it to the grid, Tesla buys back electricity at commercial rates.

          Utility solar is now about $1.30/kWh. That would pay for 138 kWh of panels.

          Middle of the US, average 4.5 solar hours per day.
          621 kWh per day.

          Sell at $0.03, buy back at $0.06. 310 kWh. 113,150 kWh per year.

          270 miles per charge. 419 charges per year. Four per each of the 100 EVs.

          I would imagine some drivers will almost never use the Supercharger. Lots of people fly if it’s going to be an all day drive.

          Some cars will drop out (wrecks) freeing up their charge slots. The panels should easily outlive the cars so the replacement car buy ins just add sweetness to Tesla’s coffers.

          Wind farm math should look better than solar farm math. Lower installed price and much higher capacity factor.

          • There are few issues.

            First: I need 100s of superchargers even if I will use only few of them in my live. But I want my car not be retarded and to be able to drive quite wherever I can possibly want – so there is need for some numbers of superchargers to be underutilized. Like northern Norway I believe is. Anyway – if no many people use them, it’s cheap land so once they are build the cost is getting to zero as scale of cars sold is growing.

            Second, There are hot points. I’m not US resident so I don’t know how it’s there, so my example can be wrong but I believe it’s easy to catch what I’m about: New York is tiring and on July 4th everybody want to get out. Or on Christmas everybody want to get out. There are few days in year when streets of my city are relatively empty because “everybody” is getting out of town. And everybody means something like 25% of cars, not 5%. And charging infrastructure can’t be working only on the days when most people are staying at home. So again it’s need to be much heavier than your estimate.

            Next point is: Tesla said that supercharger station cost $150k without solar canopies and $300k with them. It was few years ago so price of solar could go little bit down, and this can be replaced by wind, whatever. And they didn’t include battery in price tag. But base $150k seems to be relevant as it’s construction/land/connection cost mostly which don’t change a lot. I don’t know what means average/usual station per stall.

            Then SC station base cost, or most of it cost, is investment which do amortize over 50 years while car lifetime is about 20 (this is probably world number, not US – don’t recall correctly). So even after adjusting for my points your calculation was twice time short it would still be valid.

            But IMHO we have to little data to run the numbers, and it’s not only about “is it sustainable” but “how we can get there fast” and other factors. Like reducing upfront price of car by $2k will be super good news for many people. So charging like for pre paid phone card would allow reduce up front cost. And lot of people are making decisions not because what makes most sense long term, but on base of what they can afford.

            Then pay per use (prepaid phone model reduces most of pains for user) allows to make Tesla profitable from superchargers and allow others: take it, you don’t need to pay us $2k per car. Just use it. Like phones are using cellular networks and no phone manufacturer is paying for right to use it.

            Finally pay per use protocol means: Hey average Joe -> you can put this high charger station in front of your house and earn on that. Or city can do it. In scale of hotel where you pay $250 or more for night few $ for charging up car make no sense, but there are places (like apartment parking lots) where it’s getting up to. It will be hundred times more messy than when Tesla asked for not abusing SC.

          • First, you lost track. I was talking about the number of SC bays per 100 EVs, not about the number of SC bays in a complete SC system.

            Two, everybody getting out of town does not mean that everybody in town has gone on a 500 mile drive. Driving day miles data tells us that.

            $150,000/ 8 bays per SC = $18,750. Like I said, under $20k per bay.

            The rest of your argument. I also don’t buy it. I think “free” charging will be a very valuable selling point for Tesla. Free, even if it is really prepaid has a great psychological impact on many people.

            I expect to see highway restaurants and shops begging Tesla to put SCs in their parking lots.

            Tesla is doing things that increase their profits per car over other manufacturers. It’s bringing manufacturing and sales in house rather than letting other companies have those profits while doing the same job. Tesla should find it easy to price match with the EVs from other companies while offering SC access as a cherry on top of the hot fudge sundae.

          • I still don’t see the free model working, even now. The last two times we’ve charged in Burbank, which only has 6 stalls and is in an area with high concentration of Teslas, every spot has been full and we’ve had to wait. First time, only for about 3 or 5 minutes. Second time, there was at least one car ahead of us. I didn’t even realize they were waiting for a spot and accidentally jumped in front of him after waiting 3-5 mins again. I offered to leave and he seemed a little annoyed but said it was fine because another guy was pulling out, but there was another guy behind him and shortly after a model X pulled out of a parking spot and got in line (I think he may have been in line before but nobody realized it because he appeared to be parked, but not sure). Anyway, point is that there’s already contention in some spots and we’re not even at a mainstream level of EV use yet. It seems like polite behavior is keeping the wait times down so far, but I’ve also seen people park and drive off with a friend for lunch and such a car may take up a space for hours. Without some disincentive, ie pay per how long you stay, I really think it’s going to become a major problem, especially at the best locations like malls. Unless Tesla is willing to majorly overbuild the Supercharger locations to account for that.

            Actually, I guess we’ve had stories of valets that shuffle cars around at popular locations so I guess that’s another solution… and autopilot will likely eventually shuffle newer cars around so maybe they can keep it free but they’ve gotta get these solutions out there quickly. The Burbank charger has gotten a lot of negative ratings on plugshare (down to 2.6 out of 10 while most Superchargers are 9.x) for being full and it still doesn’t have a valet or another location scheduled to open up anywhere nearby. LA’s ridiculous traffic makes travel to alternate locations highly burdensome as well and there’s no way to check a location for busyness before you travel to it.

          • All you’re saying is that there needs to be more charge bays in that particular spot. It wouldn’t matter if the charger was pay as you go or Tesla pre-paid. Demand exceeds availability.

          • More bays would solve the problem for awhile, but I’m saying it’s a problem that as long as charging is free, there’s nothing other than consideration for their fellow man to stop someone from literally taking up one or more of those spots all day, or at least for much longer than they need to.

          • There’s nothing stopping someone from plugging into a ‘pay to charge’ outlet and sitting there all day.

            Hogging the outlet is a generic, not Tesla-specific problem.

          • If they plug in to a charger that charges by the hour (as many now do), there certainly IS a reason for them to not leave it plugged in all day. That doesn’t mean nobody will do it, but making people pay for the time they take up the spot is a disincentive to hogging it.

      • I think the model 3 will have limited free charging. So many kwh per month or year.

        • That makes financial sense to me. If the number of buyers with no place to charge is significant.

          Two levels, ‘generous long distance travel’ and ‘all charging at SCs’. Don’t worry about the taxis, let them charge 2x a day under the higher use package. There really aren’t that many of them.

  • Kyle- I believe you need to correct one of the statements you made in your article regarding the owners requirement to pay for the tesla charger installation. I know two examples were the owners of the
    establishments say their electricians were fully reimbursed by tesla to install the Tesla connectors at their properties. One wasn’t in and suites property I stayed at in the
    gold country in California where the owner he had to Tesla connectors installed about a year ago and Test will send her the hardware and paid her electrician directly the full amount of the installation. The other one was an article I read of a brew pub somewhere in the midwest. It was a detailed article of how the owner contacted Tesla and went through the installation process to become a destination charger. His electrician was fully paid as well.

    • I agree. Unless something has changed, my understanding is tesla sends out an authorized electrician to evaluate the installation requirements and reimburses up to a certain amount – I don’t remember the exact figure but it’s something like $1500 – whatever it is, it means that most businesses have 100% of the cost of installation paid for by Tesla.

  • I would charge a destination charging convenience fee of $25 per car per charging event at my farm.

      • Naw, she just doesn’t want visitors….

    • O.K., I will charge $20 at my farm, although I doubt the hogs will attract many visitors.

    • You’ll save a bundle on electricity! Unfortunately, most EV owners will patronize your competitors.

    • Starting a bed and breakfast?

    • Per the destination charging agreement with Tesla, charging must be free for Tesla owners.

      You can however restrict access to ‘customers only’ or charge a fee for parking.

    • Do you also charge for parking? Building and maintaining a parking lot is far more $ than EV charging. The presumption to charge for destination charging is like asking for extra money for TV, wifi or air conditioning in a hotel. The upfront cost (for the TV, WIFI routers, AIR conditioner) is generally built into the cost of providing the room.

  • This may be a little out of date but when I spoke to a Tesla rep about the destination chargers (DC and yes, I know the charger is in the car), he indicated that it was a negotiating process with the motel owner about how much of the cost Tesla would pick up. It seems that the value of being the first to have the charger about equals the cost. Thus, the rep said that it depended on how badly Tesla wanted a DC at that location in that facility.

    My experience so far is that I see more DCs at up scale locations and fewer at the budget motels. Maybe with the introduction of the Model 3 that will change. I presume that they think if you spend $100K on a car, you won’t mind spending as much as $150 to $500 a night for a motel room. So if you can only afford $35K then maybe a $75 room is more like it.

  • Tesla is doing a lot of things differently than other car manufacturers.

    Tesla drivers are likely to get a big smile every time they pass by a “Pay to Use Me” charger and then plug in at their free to use charger.

    “Open systems are always better for the consumer than closed proprietary systems, in the end.”

    Apple would disagree with you….

  • Skamania Lodge in the Columbia River Gorge has destination charging. However, the four charging stations are a combination of Tesla and Clipper Creek chargers. Pictures showing this arrangement are posted on PlugShare. It is definitely a nice place to stop and have a meal or a stay as the facilities are very nice and the views fantastic.

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