Tesla Flashback: “We don’t need a charging infrastructure throughout the country”

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I highlighted the video below (and a highlighted statement from it) a year ago, but it was buried a bit in a broader Supercharging story and I think it’s such an interesting one that I wanted to do so again. Also, this piece was inspired a bit by this comment from “neroden” the other day: “There’s a reason Tesla charges most of the cost of the Supercharger network to the *marketing* budget!”

The key statement would shock the world and be featured on Forbes, the WSJ, the Washington Post, Gizmodo, Autoblog, and half of the other websites on the worldwide web if it was made today (slight exaggeration possible).

The statement was made by Kurt Kelty. This is a name you probably don’t recognize, but Kurt is Tesla’s director of battery technology and has been with the company since 2006! The statement comes from a 2011 interview at a Panasonic event. Here it is:

“You often hear about this chicken-and-egg syndrome where ‘we can’t really have the EVs out there until we get the charging infrastructure in place,’ but we don’t believe that at all because our customers, I mentioned earlier, they’re charging at home. We don’t need a charging infrastructure throughout the country. The only place we need that infrastructure is probably on major corridors, say between LA and San Francisco — you want some charging stations there — but, in general, our customers are happy charging at home, they have their charger in their garage, and it works very smoothly.”

Note that Tesla unveiled Superchargers in late 2011, almost a year after this interview with Kurt Kelty.

Granted, Tesla’s Superchargers are at corridors where long-distance travel is expected, but the idea that “We don’t need a charging infrastructure throughout the country” seems pretty counter to the whole Supercharger network, which many of us would say is spread throughout the country (and Europe, and parts of China and Japan).

However, that’s not to say Tesla was being deceitful. Tesla CEO Elon Musk has said that he didn’t expect the Supercharger network to be so popular.

Also, it gets back to neroden’s comment. Superchargers are basically critical for long-distance trips. It’s hard to argue that. But how often do you really make a long-distance trip? How often do you do it in a car, not in an airplane or train? How hard would it be to simply rent or borrow a car on those rare occasions? It doesn’t matter, no matter how much I work to broaden people’s thinking. What matters is that people think their car needs to be able to drive across the country on a whim. And that could explain why the Supercharger network falls into the marketing column.

Tesla Supercharging

Nonetheless, it’s not a crime to point out the obvious: If you are a small company trying to change a huge market, it’s not to your advantage to say something is necessary first that just doesn’t exist. Tesla can talk about the need for Supercharging today, because the company has demonstrated that it thinks this is important (and customers do as well) and it has offered the solution.

On the other hand, Tesla has to continue impressing upon listeners and readers the idea that public charging isn’t that important. Tesla has struggled with drivers who somehow think it makes more sense to go out of their way for free charging, and brought that point up again during its recent shareholder meeting, where Elon essentially stated that anyone doing that is valuing their time at the country’s minimum wage, which seems a bit low for someone driving a Tesla.

Do we need a charging infrastructure throughout the country, and a super-fast charging infrastructure for that matter? That’s up for debate. Is such a charging infrastructure a huge boost to the EV market (presuming the EVs can use it)? Of course it is, and Tesla’s actions since 2011 certainly counter those early 2011 statements quite strongly. After all, if such infrastructure wasn’t critical, doesn’t Tesla have some important work to put all that money into? 😀

For a bit of fun, how important do you think a super-fast charging network across the country is? You can answer via this poll (I’ll share the results on our Facebook page and Google+ page next week, if I don’t do so in an article):

Create your own user feedback survey


One Thing I Think Elon Musk Is Wrong On

Tesla Letter To “Frequent” Supercharger Users Ruffles Feathers & Raises Several Questions

24 Tesla Shareholder Meeting Highlights — My Notes

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Zachary Shahan

Zach is tryin' to help society help itself one word at a time. He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director, chief editor, and CEO. Zach is recognized globally as an electric vehicle, solar energy, and energy storage expert. He has presented about cleantech at conferences in India, the UAE, Ukraine, Poland, Germany, the Netherlands, the USA, Canada, and Curaçao. Zach has long-term investments in Tesla [TSLA], NIO [NIO], Xpeng [XPEV], Ford [F], ChargePoint [CHPT], Amazon [AMZN], Piedmont Lithium [PLL], Lithium Americas [LAC], Albemarle Corporation [ALB], Nouveau Monde Graphite [NMGRF], Talon Metals [TLOFF], Arclight Clean Transition Corp [ACTC], and Starbucks [SBUX]. But he does not offer (explicitly or implicitly) investment advice of any sort.

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73 thoughts on “Tesla Flashback: “We don’t need a charging infrastructure throughout the country”

  • I don’t think we, or tesla NEEDS that, but we will want it. There is a degree of freedom or just a feeling of freedom in knowing that if i take my car and drive around in circles on the highway and end up having NO IDEA where i am, if i get off the highway i can drive 2 blocks and find 3 gas stations.

    With EV’s i get the feeling i need to plan – i can’t be lazy or irresponsible. And that acts as a point against them.

    However, there are so many other good points for them that i think people will be willing to exert the effort to not be maximum lazy to get the benefits. And as EV’s become more and more successful, more charging stations will pop up just because demand has grown.

    So while maybe having more charging stations now would make buyers will a liiiiil’ bit better, it isn’t worth the cost of throwing up as many super chargers as we’ve got gas stations. And eventually that will be the case anyway, tesla doesn’t need to go out of its way to do it.

    • With an EV your car will tell you when it’s time to quit driving in circles and go to the charger which your car will guide you too.

      You won’t need to watch for the idiot light and then try to remember where you saw a gas station.

      There’s no need for as many charging stations as we now have gas stations. 90% of EV charging will take place while the car is not being used.

      • With EVs the charging pattern is predominantly overnight, well before full discharge. With cars the predominate fueling is full fill up.

        Because EV rarely need full charge and home charging in ubiquitous, far fewer Fast Charge stations are needed. Probably more destination chargers for convenience, but with 200 mile range vehicles, Fast Charge might be the only ones needed in abundance other than home chargers. The faster Level 2 home chargers might be better.

  • where Elon essentially stated that anyone doing that is valuing their time at the country’s minimum wage, which seems a bit low for someone driving a Tesla.

    SCs are the new Golf centers. Where you go to meet all the interesting people in the community.

  • I don’t yet have an EV but I have read enough from people who do own them and have looked at my own driving pattern over the last 2 years.

    Over the last 2 years I have only had 3 trips were an 84 mile leaf would have worked not alone a 200+ mile EV like the Bolt or Model S/X. Those 3 trips were as follows:

    Trip from Maryland to Tennessee and back to MD. I was looking at housing. A 100 mile or less EV wouldn’t have been enough and a 200 mile like the Bolt or Model S would have been doable but looking at the routes it would take planing and some sitting at level 2 charging. A rental would have been better for that route no mater what EV I would have owned including the Tesla Model S/X.

    Moving from Maryland to Tennessee. Since I was moving my choices would be to either grin and bear some level 2 charging no mater what EV including the Tesla Model S/X or pay to have it towed.

    Day trip from Chattanooga TN to Atalanta GA. Could be done even with a sub 100 mile EV with DCFC of some kind but wouldn’t be an issue with a 200 mile plus EV like the Tesla Module S/X or the upcoming Bolt. I might want to plugin during the trip but likely could have have been done without any charging during the trip.

    So this is a long winded way of saying he was right. As a general rule the Supercharger network is nice to have thing and only really needed along major corridors like freeways. However it is also important to note that 2 of my trips the Supercharger network doesn’t yet support and likely wont support any time soon.

    • Just for fun work out what you would have saved by running on electricity rather than gas over those two years. And calculate the cost of renting a car for the three long trips you took.

      • I have done the numbers on my gas savings. It would have been around $2,000 over the 2 year time. Since both my ice vehicles are paid for the cost to lease something will be higher then the gas savings. When the 2004 starts to cost more then oil changes the next vehicle we buy will be an EV. The fact that both ICE vehicles are paid for really makes the numbers for buying an EV really hard to make work. I expect we will be replacing the older car in a few years. It just recently hit the 100,000 mark that is when ICE vehicles start to become problems.

        Trust me I have done the numbers but right now because the ICE vehicles are paid for the cost of maintenance and gas is still lower then the cost of power and leasing / monthly payments. Once that equation becomes close I will be getting an EV.

        • Have you considered buying a gently used EV? Given the relatively lower resale value for 2-4 year old EVs, the math worked well for us, and may surprise you.

          However, it’s very difficult to mathematically justify replacing ANY car once you have no payments on it.

          • “However, it’s very difficult to mathematically justify replacing ANY car once you have no payments on it.”
            ….until it’s more than 10 years old, or over 100,000 miles. Then really expensive repairs start happening more and more frequently.

          • Actually, no. According to Consumer Reports, “In the end, it is almost always less expensive to hang on to your current car than to buy a new one. Even the most-expensive repair bills for an old car can’t outweigh the cost of depreciation on a new one.”

            Of course, a car of poor quality can eventually become impractical to own. But I drove my 2002 Mustang Convertible for 238,000 miles before selling it, and it had few repairs until the end. I only sold it because it was difficult to get grandbabies in and out of the back seat.

            Edit: Forgot the link to the above quote. consumerreports dot org/cro/2012/12/what-that-car-really-costs-to-own/index.htm

          • It would only make sense if your ICE Gas bill is higher than your payment for an EV.

          • The Consumer Report analysis was unrelated to propulsion technology.

          • Actually, no. According to Consumer Reports, “In the end, it is almost always less expensive to hang on to your current car than to buy a new one. Even the most-expensive repair bills for an old car can’t outweigh the cost of depreciation on a new one.” — ricegf

            I generally put 100k into my car’s before replacing them. My newest car was bought new because when I went to buy a few year old lighted used vehicle what we have done for the prior 8 cars/vans we have bought what was out there didn’t really fit me and what we found that did fit me were huge SUV that even with the few old mark down was still more then buying a new mini-van. We have great credit so I got it pretty much interest free but with moving states last year we decided to pay it off to decrease our debt before buying our home in TN.

            PS. I don’t generally worry about depreciation as anything I buy I run into the ground and generally happy getting 1k for a car in trade in.

          • We typically put even more miles on our vehicles, then buy a 2-3 year old gently used replacement for cash. It’s economical driving, but of course I would never criticize your approach nor someone who wants to replace their car every few years with something brand new. Different people want and are willing to pay for different experiences. No one strategy is “right”.

            The difference will be with the Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid, which we’re considering buying new in its first model year. I’ve only purchased one brand new car before (my wife has never purchased new), so this will be quite a departure from our usual approach.

            I blame our Leaf. Having driven electric, we just can’t bring ourselves to pay actual money for a gasoline or diesel only vehicle, and no gently used plug-ins exist that can carry 8 people. Yet.

          • …until it’s more than 10 years old, or over 100,000 miles. Then really expensive repairs start happening more and more frequently. — neroden

            ding, ding, ding we have a winner. As of right now the 2004 has only has tires and oil changes, and a battery until now. This month we had to put in new breaks at $800 if the repair bills start to mount or we get a really large est on something wrong then we will start looking for a new vehicle to replace that one.

        • I understand that. It doesn’t make economic sense to dump a perfectly adequate paid off vehicle in order to purchase an EV.

          I’m in the same boat. With lower potential fuel savings than most since I drive less than half of the national average. I’ve got a 2003 ride with 60k on the odometer. I might never wear that car out. I’d be over 100 before the car hits 180k at this rate.

          I may move to an EV in a few years. Mostly because I want a car that can at last partially drive itself. Something a bit more than Tesla’s current lane keeping ability.

          • Yeah, I bought my Tesla when the car I was previously driving (a 1999 model IIRC) was about 13 years old, and accumulating *expensive* repairs. Makes no sense to replace your car early.

          • I’ve got a 2003 ride with 60k on the odometer. I might never wear that car out. I’d be over 100 before the car hits 180k at this rate. — Bob_Wallace

            You may be surprised. Depending on where you live the car might starting having problems much sooner. If you leave you car exposed to the elements near a beach for instance the car might be ready to fall apart in a few years. Whereas if you leave the car in a Garage and only take it out during nice weather is might last until you hit 100.

        • We had the ICE vehicle (Corrolla) costing us $350+/- per month in fuel alone @$1.42/L, let alone the maintenance such as oil changes, brakes, all other fluid changes, ect. The cost of purchasing our Leaf only costs us $308/month over 5 years, and costs us $30+/- per month to charge = $338/month; so at the end of the day we are putting money in our pocket and to boot we get to drive a Brand new car.

          • We had the ICE vehicle (Corrolla) costing us $350+/- per month in fuel alone @$1.42/L, — Neel

            That is my issue. Our Gas bill on the older car is $100 a month. The new car only requires a fill-up ever 6 weeks that is something like $25 a month. That doesn’t leave a lot of room to save money switching to an EV.

    • Hmmm. I looked at the SuperCharger map. Probably would have been more difficult last year, but as of todays map, it doesn’t look that bad.
      The route? 81 down to Memphis and 40 across to Nashville if you were heading there. Biggest problem is the area around Nashville is not well served. You would need destination charging at your end point overnight.

      By the end of 2016, that would be pretty much eliminated, leaving some spots of the wide open and empty West far from charging stations. But thats pretty much how it is with gas, too. All the East West big interstates are covered. Many of the West Coast, East Coast, and MidWest North South routes are well covered later in 2016.

      • Interesting they have recently added 2 station on I81 in VA the last time I looked up that track there weren’t any. That was the area I would have done some level 2 charging so it does look like the MD to Chattanooga, TN trip could be done using superchargers today. Memphis still looks to be an issue attempting to get to but my neck of the woods is getting better.

        • Yes. Its great to see the SC network expanding. Shouldn’t be so bad for Tennessee by the end of the year. Still some places could use some more out West, but Rome wasn’t built in a day. The East and West Coasts are full of SC stations now. Shouldn’t be a problem there anymore.
          I do note your comment about Virginia stations added. Sometimes places with high density need more stations.

        • The Supercharger network is expanding *fast*. We have Erie PA now, which unlocks trips from upstate NY to the west; I’ve been agitating for that for years!

  • The thing is everyone needs to unwind. Tesla didn’t simply put the idea in our heads that the supercharging network is only needed for long distance travel, but it also put in our heads that whenever we need to unwind, we can stop by a supercharging station, and therefore, it’s not that we don’t value our time, but those 30-minute alone time in a day, before getting back to deal with wife and kids and real world problems, is precious to a lot of people.

  • After owning a Tesla for three years and driving it almost every day, I find myself in complete agreement with Kelty’s original statement IF you are driving a Tesla. With the very large battery and overnight charging, local public charging is totally unnecessary. I have used it exactly twice when I first got the car and that was only to try it out. It’s like stopping at a gas station when you have 3/4 tank except more pointless because you never have to stop and refuel at all, just plug in when you get home. The car is a real joy on road trips so why would I want to leave it home and hassle with renting a gasser? I travel about once a month and the superchargers make that totally practical. I would predict that when most EVs transition to 200+ mile range, the local charging infrastructure will go the way of the phone booth.

    • I have heard that from other EV users, even ones with short range. Local destination charing is just too slow to do much good. Its just long distance or home charging. The rest is just an occasional destination charge at shopping points or the like, just as a convenience, not a necessity.

      Its a much bigger issue for short range EVs. They could use more Chademo and SAE. Oddly, auto makers never woke up to this.

      • In the future, charging at work in the SW USA will be useful to take advantage of a future cheap daytime grid solar power supply. This won’t be so useful in Alaska.

        • Half the year it will be.

          The other half, leave the EV at home and take the dogsled….

          • Lol…………..

        • Not unless EVs get snowshoes. Tho I hear wind is pretty omnipresent in Alaska winter,?

      • I suspect overnight charging at hotels will be a thing. (I have already used this on trips.) When you’re staying overnight at someone’s house, of course, you might plug in at their plug (which they probably use nightly as well).

        • I noticed a lot of Hotels only cater to TESLA not Chademo/SAE charging vehicles…went to two last week and they only had Tesla type cables to charge with.

          • Most hotel’s I have seen seem to have Level 2 or even Level 1 chargers but maybe I am going to the wrong hotels.

          • I went to Pacific Gateway at YVR/Vancouver airport and Pan Pacific Whistler.

      • I agree why is there not more of the Chademo/SAE combo chargers? Telsa should make an adaptor to convert their Superchargers to charge Chademo/SAE vehicles. Telsa vehicles have adaptors to use the Chademo/SAE chargers…WHY not the other way around????

        • As I recall, the option to use SC was offered to competitors, but none accepted. Right now, the only ones that can use SC are Tesla Model S or X.
          There is no path for other makers to use SC without both making a deal with Tesla and designing a Chademo or SAE to SC converter.

          Ultimately, IMO, it looks like the other manufacturers have shunned that route. Unfortunately, they have not stepped up and supported SAE or Chademo effectively, either. With the short range Leaf, it was a losing proposition, because Fast Charge still couldn’t give useful long distances because of the small battery pack size.

          Now with the Bolt, there is 200 mile range, but it can’t be fully charged in a half hour, so long distances over 200 miles are limited.

          EV manufacturers just have to come to grips with charging. Nobody else is going to do it for them. And if they lay back, it may become a hodge podge of incompatible chargers at non ideal locations. At the very least it will be chicken and egg with car owner and makers waiting for fast charging stations and charging stations waiting for long distance EVs. A very inefficient way to do things.

      • “…auto makers never woke up to this”

        Their hearts aren’t in it.

    • I would agree but for one thing… 60%+ of European (for example) car owners can’t charge at home because they either live in terraced housing or flats. So, if EVs really are to take over from ICE’ed ones, something pretty dramatic will have to happen to public charging… in urban scenarios at least. At the same time, such charging infrastructure will also allow the use of EVs with the range of current ‘100 mile’ EVs because they will be able to charge when at work as well as at home, effectively doubling their useful range.

      • In the US about 45% of all drivers do not have a place to charge while parked.

        I suspect we’ll see a good portion of those people charging at work. As we add more solar to grids EVs can work as dispatchable loads and help even out supply/load indifferences.

        In dense urban areas where people park on the street we may see wireless charging. Especially if the energy loss is zero or close to zero.

        • That seems high. Where did you get that statistic? A far larger percentage of drivers than 45% live in fully detached houses where they should, theoretically, be able to install a place to charge.

          70% of Americans live in single-family houses. I have to expect that most non-car-owners do not live in single-family houses (which would mean that the percentage of car-owners who live in single-family houses would be higher than 70%).
          And I also have to expect that most of those single-family houses have either a garage, or a driveway, or a designated street parking space. There simply aren’t very many traditional attached townhouses in the US.

          • OK. It looks like they just asked people whether they had access to charging at home *right now*. So we can expect a large portion of the people who don’t have charging right now could install a charging point for $250 no problem.

          • Thanks muchly for the link. I dug into the survey results deeper:

            Private off-street parking such as a garage or dedicated spot, WITH ACCESS to an electrical outlet or plug-in electric vehicle charger 52%
            Private off-street parking WITHOUT ACCESS to an electrical outlet 27%
            Private off-street parking but you DON’T KNOW if there is an outlet or not 5%
            Public or on-street parking 12%
            Other 2%
            Don’t know 1%

            I think we can safely say that the people who have private off-street parking can and will install charging at home, sooner or later. Them or their landlords.

            So it’s the 15% who use public or on-street parking, “don’t know” where they park, or “Other” (what the hell is this?) who have a long-term problem with charging at home.|

            (Maybe “other” means “I walk to work and leave my car parked at my employer’s parking lot” or similar oddities. Anyway, 12-15% who can’t reasonably install a plug at home.)

          • 12% of 250 million is 30 million. We’re going to need a large number of curbside parking chargers.

          • As I said somewhere else in this tread. There are allot of houses in small towns all over the US were there is only on street parking and many of them don’t have public transportation available. Some day go looking though a realtor site and see how many places up for sale only have off street parking.

          • 70% of Americans live in single-family houses. —

            Not all signal family homes have garages or even have a private parking space. My grandmothers place never had a place to park their car they always had to part on the street.

          • “My grandmothers place never had a place to park their car they always had to park on the street.”

            OTOH, my parents lived from at least 1964 until they stopped driving from old age in 2011 in places where it was illegal to park on the street.

      • “So, if EVs really are to take over from ICE’ed ones, something pretty dramatic will have to happen to public charging… “. I fail to see why this should be a public responsibility. If there is a demand, solutions will appear. Charging at work has already been mentioned and urban dwellers that park in parking garages will have the charging capability installed. That leaves the subset of people who can only park in the street. Battery swapping has been demonstrated as technically feasible. We are back to demand. I would really hate to think that the full adoption of EVs is dependent on public officials and their addiction to campaign cash.

        • Curbside charging may be a municipal undertaking in many places. The cities own the street and sidewalk. Modify parking meters to make them meters/chargers.

          Or it may be something the utility companies provide. They already have arrangements to move electricity above or below city streets. Selling electricity alongside the street would seem like a natural extension.

          I’m going to be bet on different solutions in different places.

          • Meters might work in downtown areas were meters already exists but most on street parking doesn’t have meters. Many area now have permits for the neighborhood. Something like an RFID tag think speed pass for those in the northeastern US. I am sure each area will address the question in different ways.

      • Wow, there is no place to park a car in Europe?

  • Maybe the Tesla rep that said we only need chargers on main routes was merely uneducated, but if you own a 200-250 mile range car, it becomes glaringly obvious that you need superchargers spaced evenly all around the country. Say they put them only on the 5 freeway that runs north/south in California. If I want to travel to Yosemite, which is blocked from the 5 by a mountain range, I _could_ get there on the 5 from San Bernardino, but it adds like 3 hours to the trip. People don’t want to waste hours following sparsely placed superchargers, so you need them evenly spaced everywhere. It’s hard to believe they wouldn’t have figured that out unless they spent very little time thinking about it.

    Another problem is if you go to a destination with nothing over 120V (ie my parents or various hotels). Sometimes you don’t have enough idle time there to charge enough to get to your next destination, so again you need superchargers.

    • Yes, its not so simple as adding SuperChargers on I-5, which is clearly needed. Its a matter of asking oneself how frequent are users trips to locations. Its seems like Tesla is accounting for that in the 2016 SuperCharger maps. Your point about Yosemite is a case that should show some interest. Those are frequent destinations, so should be considered for fast charge. Now the lost lands of northeast california are another matter. Your are stuck there whether its an EV or gas.

      • They actually just opened a SC at Mammoth Lakes and in Reno in the last few months, so that Yosemite trip can now be done with a direct route from probably anywhere in southern California. But I still find it strange/dubious that Tesla was ever actually thinking that a wide network of superchargers was not a requirement for a useful EV.

        • Hint: IMO, the statement was probably intended to mean chargers were not meant to be as ubiquitous as gas stations. Not really sure they meant SC wouldn’t be on all major interstates. The era of the statement is a clue. Nobody really had any idea what to do at the time, but long distance was always on Elons mind by his utterances. The fact that he commuted between Los Angeles and Bay Area could be a clue. 🙂 That would be the place with the most SuperChargers. Nothing like personal testing by the big guy, eh? LOL. Psst. Send him some free passes to Yosemite. They will put an SC nearby.

          • I fully agree with your comment.

        • Useful and universally convenient are two very different objectives.

  • our customers, I mentioned earlier, they’re charging at home

    Maybe that’s because Tesla’s customers overwhelmingly tend to live in houses and have garages. I’m sure I don’t have to mention that this is not true of many people. When EVs become more affordable, you’re going to see a lot more apartment-dwellers driving them, and then public infrastructure becomes very important.

    • I own a Leaf and when I see another one it is always in a transient location (like parking lot of a grocery store). Today, I happened to see one parked on the road and it stood out (weirdly I do park on the street fairly often when I go out to eat — so go figure). A rare sight though and I think it underscores your point..

      Something will need to allow urban car owners who have no garage recharge their cars. In my city, this is a lot of vehicles.

      The corollary to this is that EVs are somewhat hidden from the population because they are hidden away recharging. This probably hinders adoption a little bit since no one thinks anyone owns them (and yeah not many people do yet).

      • Yep. Places like San Diego are going the way of chargers in apartment complexes. A smart way to go.

        • SoCal Edison put up a lot of money to assist with apartment and workplace parking lot chargers. Makes sense, new market for them.

    • Or apartments and places of work get charging. Public charging wouldn’t be very good if its a mile from your apartment.

    • I wonder why apartments offer parking spots instead of hitching posts? Is it because people mostly drive cars rather than ride horses? If EVs grow dramatically in popularity, why wouldn’t we expect apartments to similarly include L2 chargers as part of their standard parking infrastructure?

      • I expect all apartment/condo parking lots will have charging outlets eventually. Owners will find it more difficult to rent (or find they are earning less rent) if they don’t offer charge outlets.

  • Totally agree that the perceived need for supercharging is far greater than the actual need. ( I answered “meh” on the survey.) Driving my i3 around the Twin Cities metro area, I have used destination chargers about twice a week on average; frequently because they were free and other times to have a more convenient parking space, rather than because I needed to charge. The shops providing free charging attracted my business as a result, so there is a win-win for them. Interestingly, the first free public level 2 charger I used was at the back of an apartment building in Minneapolis. This is now a differentiator for apartments, and will eventually be table stakes.

  • I understand both sides of the issue. I have a short range (Smart) EV, that works really well as a commute and short distance car. With a very slow 3.3kW charging rate, it is fast enough for overnight in my garage. I have thought of taking it out of town, but six hours of charging after an hour of freeway driving does not make any sense. Yes, I do lust after a longer range EV. Fortunately we have an ICE SUV, that can go 300 miles on a tank of gas, for the two or three long distance trips that we take.

    On the totally irrational side: My wife does not mind running the AC on high in the ICE, but keeps it lower in the EV to conserve range…

  • I believe the Power Wall/Charger at home would satisfy most EV driver needs. Highway “convenience” would come at a price with Tesla Chargers at US Highway Rest Stops. I believe those who do cross country driving trips are not a targeted demographic group. Most fly or fast rail commute; or do the metro link thing to avoid traffic congestion and not contribute to the traffic jams on freeways. As most people fly to conserve their time and rent a car when they arrive at their destination some public charging would make sense; but at regular filling stations equipped with a Industry Standard EV charging apparatus. This could be sensible at some point in time when the EV is more conveniently priced and ubiquitous.The charging stations at work places would take care of daily commuters for the most part if no residential charging is possible.

  • “For a bit of fun, how important do you think a super-fast charging network across the country is?”

    Note, when I answered the question, I answered for the country I live in, not the US. If you look at the map posted on this article, there are vast black holes in coverage in my country. You can’t drive from coast to coast in my country at all.

    Tesla seems to treat us with scarcely concealed contempt. Strange attitude considering Musk’s mother is from Regina, SK.

  • So, here’s something to think about.

    Tesla seems to have arranged most of the land arrangements for the Superchargers as basically “zero money” or near-zero money affairs, where the landlord agrees to let Tesla put the Superchargers in for free, and the landlord’s benefit is the walk-up traffic from the people using the Supercharger.

    The cost of installing a Supercharger site seems to be very low by corporate standards, $100K – $175K — that’s for all the stalls.

    Suppose the Supercharger gets used, say, once a week by the occasional road-tripper, who picks up 60 kwh. At typical electricity prices of 12 cents / kwh, that’s less than $400/year for Tesla. Though they probably pay more for the fixed cost of the ~800 kW connection, which could be $4000/year or more.

    Daily usage would bring the electricity charges up to $2600/year.
    10 people every day would bring the electricity charges up to $26000/year.

    If we assume that 1400 Supercharger sites (more than twice the current number) are used about once a day, with $4000/year connection fees and $2600/year electricity charges, that’s about $10 million / year in recurring costs for Tesla.

    My point is that having the network of Superchargers all over the country allowing people to get to remote areas is of great value to Tesla owners, and is great marketing, but costs Tesla next to nothing. The costs of these lightly used Superchargers (both installation and operations) are apparently assigned to the marketing budget.

    Only the heavily used sites have significant costs associated with them. Apparently these are accounted for differently.

    • $10 million.

      Apparently a $2,000 cost is built into the Model S for lifetime Supercharger access.

      To generate that $10 million Tesla has to sell only 5,000 Model Ss.

    • Wow that’s costing next to nothing for the amount of money they are making on the cars!

  • If it wasn’t for the Super-Charger Network, Tesla would NOT be selling as many cars….I would love to see the sales figures pre-superchargers then after it was up and running for over a year.

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