New Tesla Superchargers Hint At Future Of Public Charging (& Not Just Because They Have 40 Stalls)

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Tesla emailed approximately an hour ago that North America’s two largest Supercharger stations just opened. What’s more interesting than the size of the stations, however, is that they represent a transition into a different charging dimension.

Kyle Field and I have been talking about this for a couple of years, and I focused on it a great deal in our recent EV charging conference, but little did I know that Tesla has been planning for such a shift. (Okay, we did have a hint or two.) The bottom line is that the future of public charging needs to include more amenities, more relaxation opportunities, more commercial attractions, and just more ::stuff:: (forgive the consumerist language and implications here). Sitting in your car for 45 minutes is okay if you’re in a Tesla, but there are nicer potential options than that or wandering through the junk food aisles in a nearby gas station.

Also see: 10 Awesome Design Features of Tesla’s Newest Supercharger Station

The fact of the matter is, there’s insane potential to improve the human experience for people sitting at a charging station for 30–90 minutes — and to make some cash along the way (which I hear Tesla could use wisely). After driving a Tesla Model S from Poland to Paris and back, I can tell you that the Supercharger experience is amazing but there’s also plenty of room for improved amenities. Naturally, it doesn’t take a rocket fanatic to figure that out, but Elon’s apparently good at the human things as well and apparently decided now’s the time to get moving on more human-centered stations.

“In Kettleman City, California, we built a dedicated Supercharger customer lounge—the first of its kind in the world. It includes access to food and craft beverages, restrooms, comfortable seating, WiFi, and Tesla apparel is available for sale. The new customer lounge also features a kid’s play wall, pet relief area and outdoor space for families.”

Yup, that’s what we’ve been talking about!

I’d also like to see some aesthetically appealing water features, a basketball and tennis court, and perhaps even a Slip ‘N Slide. But the lounge is a start.

Tesla’s email provided more details that will certainly have the CleanTechnica community jumping for joy: “With 40 Superchargers stalls, the new stations in Kettleman City, California, and Baker, California, each have covered solar parking and Tesla Powerpack System, significantly increasing charging capacity between the Bay Area to Los Angeles and Los Angeles to Las Vegas, respectively. The ongoing expansion of the networks will ensure that Tesla drivers are able to quickly and easily charge their vehicles no matter what, and that a seamless charging experience remains our priority.”

Expect solar + storage installations to keep popping up at new and expanded Superchargers. This has long been a part of Tesla’s master plan.

“As we significantly increase the size of Tesla’s charging networks, more sites will include solar and Powerpack storage to ensure sustainable energy generation, storage, and charging,” Tesla confirms.

Rolling these giant Supercharging centers out right now is surely 100% coincidental. However, it’s quite lucky and convenient that they popped up just before the holiday season (since long lines at Superchargers in this region were an issue last Thanksgiving). It’s also quite convenient that these were unveiled just before Tesla Model 3 production ramps up. (Right? … Right? … Elon? … … …)

I’m surprised that these locations got 40-stall Superchargers before anywhere in North Dakota or South Dakota, but the world never ceases to amaze me and it should be noted that these are located along extremely popular routes that connect the San Francisco Bay Area to Los Angeles and Los Angeles to Las Vegas.

One question that may have already leapt into your mind: Can anyone go pop into the Tesla lounge, or do you need a special boarding pass or app to get into the door and use the WiFi? “The lounge is available 24/7 to Tesla drivers who access the building via a code available on their Tesla’s touchscreen,” Tesla clarifies.

In case you want to scout out the site and stalk Tesla drivers anyway, the precise locations are 27675 Bernard Dr., Kettleman City, CA 93239 and 71808 Baker Blvd, Baker, CA 92309.

Confused what a Supercharger is? Go here to learn more, and put that into broader context by reading “Electric Car Charging 101 — Types of Charging, Charging Networks, Apps, & More!

If you want a lot more perspective than that, Tesla shared some answers to FAQs (see below) and here are a few articles from my own adventures in the world of Supercharging and Tesla road tripping:

Tesla Model S Poland–Paris–Poland Photo Essay

Poland To Paris — Tesla Model S 85D Road Trip

Tesla Smart Navigation Is Brilliant (+ 3 Tips)

Answers to FAQs from Tesla:

Will sales support be available at the Kettleman City, CA Supercharger?
No, but there are self-guided kiosks that help drivers learn more about Tesla energy products in the new customer lounge.

Who is staffing the food and craft beverage concessions? Is Tesla providing the food?
Tesla partnered with various vendors to provide the food and beverages available at the Kettleman City, CA Supercharger Station.

Will there be general parking available in addition to Tesla Supercharging?
The parking lot is designed and optimized for a maximum number of Tesla Superchargers, and public parking is not generally available on the property. There is street-side parking directly adjacent.

How much time can drivers expect to spend charging?
Tesla Trip Planner, built into the Navigation system, makes road trips simple. Trip Planner directs you to a convenient Supercharger along the route, and tells you how long to charge. Drivers typically spend about 30 minutes to Supercharge while they use the restroom, grab a snack or coffee, and let passengers stretch their legs.

How much does it cost to charge my Model S or X?
Under the current Supercharge program:

  • 400 kWh (~1,000 miles) of Supercharger credits are awarded annually.
  • For usage above the complimentary annual credits provided, a small fee applies.
  • In North America, pricing is fixed within each state or province. Internationally, pricing is fixed within each country. All prices include taxes and fees.
  • Where possible, owners are billed per kWh (kilowatt-hour), which is the most fair and simple method. In other areas, we bill for the service per minute.
    • In California, Supercharging above the complimentary credits is $0.20 per kWh.
  • When billing per minute, there are two tiers to account for changes in charging speeds, called “tier 1” and “tier 2”. This maximizes fairness to the customer.
    • Tier 1 applies while cars are charging at or below 60 kW and tier 2 applies while cars are charging above 60 kW. Tier 1 is half the cost of tier 2.
    • Tier 1 also applies anytime your vehicle is sharing Supercharger power with another car.

Where are the current and upcoming Supercharger stations?
Please refer to the projected Supercharger map for current and upcoming stations. To find the station nearest you, visit our interactive map.

How do I know the speed of the Supercharger before I plug in?
The Navigation app in your Tesla displays the maximum power output of a Supercharger location. You can also see this information on our website Supercharging maps.

Do I need to install charging at home now that these new Superchargers are available?
The convenience of home charging is one of the best ways to live with a Tesla and there is no need to travel to get a full charge. We recommend an easily installable Level 2 charging solution at home whenever possible. Superchargers are ideal while on a road trip, while visiting from out of town, or while home charging is being established.

What are idle fees?
Idle fees apply to any car occupying a Supercharger but not actively charging if the station is at least 50% full once the charge session is complete. If the car is moved within 5 minutes of the charge session completion, the fee is waived. To be clear, this change is purely about increasing customer happiness and we hope to never make any money from it.

How do I use the Supercharger Network?
Simply park and plug in your vehicle using the connector at the Supercharger post. Once plugged in, the vehicle’s charge port will flash green to indicate that charging has started. You can monitor charging progress on your instrument panel or Tesla App.

How should I plan a trip using Superchargers?
Built-in Trip Planner automatically routes you through Superchargers to your destination. In addition, all Supercharger locations are displayed in your Tesla vehicle’s Maps and Navigation to assist with route planning.

Where exactly is the Supercharger station on the property?
Supercharger stations are GPS located in your vehicle’s touchscreen navigation. Your vehicle’s Navigation will route to the nearest entrance and you can zoom in on the map to find the exact location of the station. If additional instructions are needed, they will show up on the vehicle’s touchscreen.

How does Tesla decide where to put Supercharger stations?
Tesla Superchargers enable long distance travel and convenient charging in urban areas. We use precise energy modeling and locate Superchargers near amenities, such as hotels, restaurants and shopping areas. Attract Tesla drivers to your property by hosting a Supercharger station. You may submit your property suggestion here.

Are Superchargers always open?
Almost all Supercharger stations are open for charging 24-hours a day, however, nearby amenities are subject to business hours.

If I don’t use my 400 kWh of annual credits will they roll over to the next year?
Unused credits do not roll over to the next year. Credits are reset to 400 kWh each year, on the anniversary of the delivery date. If the car transfers ownership, credits are reset on the date of the transfer.

How are customers billed if they do not have any free, annual credits?
Customers are billed automatically via a credit card linked to their Tesla Account. After each Supercharger session, customers can view the session details online. Supercharger history and downloadable invoices may also be viewed online. For more details, see our Payment Terms for Services.

How do I know if my car has surpassed the free Supercharging credits?
To check your vehicle’s Supercharger credit status, please view your Tesla Account or contact Tech Support at (877) 798-3752 (international phone numbers). 

What do I do if I have an issue while Supercharging?
Please call Tech Support at (877) 798-3752 (international phone numbers).

How long can I park at a Supercharger?
Once your vehicle has reached the range necessary to get to your next destination, please move your vehicle so other drivers can charge. Vehicles parked at a Supercharger beyond an active charge session will be subject to idle fees. Learn more about idle fees.

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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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