Tesla Upgrading Its Supercharging Network To V3 For Next-Generation Speeds

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The rollout of Tesla’s next-generation Supercharging network is starting on Wednesday, according to a tweet by CEO Elon Musk late Sunday. The first public Supercharging point running at the company’s new version 3.0 spec will go live at 8pm on Wednesday, March 6th, 2019.

The Supercharging V3 spec is expected to level up Tesla’s charging network to compete with the cutting edge speeds of other next-generation public chargers, which are operating at speeds of 150–350kW. Tesla has not disclosed the specs for its Supercharger V3 stations. Though, CEO Elon Musk teased the twittersphere back in 2016 when asked if they would operate at 350kW. He playfully mocked the speed, leading to rampant speculation that Tesla’s next-generation chargers would raise the bar even further, and that was back in 2016!

Increasing the speed of its charging network was one of the critical pushes the company was working on to improve the availability of its Supercharging network in its home market of California and beyond. Increasing the speed of its Superchargers not only gets owners back on the road faster, it frees up the stations being utilized much faster, improving the overall power a station can provide to even more drivers per day.

On the financial side of things, investing more capital into the chargers themselves makes better use of the existing real estate agreements Tesla has in place. The move leverages Tesla’s increased access to capital, thereby improving the usefulness of its existing real estate agreements.

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The offset is that the higher power chargers will pull down power from the utility even faster, incurring more demand charges with the utility. Demand charges are the fees ratepayers incur based on how fast they pull down power. The fatter the pipe and the more power they pull at one time, the higher the charges. To offset this, Tesla will install its Powerwall stationary energy storage units to serve as a buffer between their charging stations and the utility.

Take these for a grain of salt, but a redditor who claimed to have inside information from a Tesla employee said that the new standard included:

  • 200kW actual charging speed
  • Cabinets can support 250kW max speed each
  • All Model 3 battery configurations can charge at these speeds
  • Supercharger V3 is a full redesign from previous generation
  • V3 chargers use the industrial inverters from Tesla’s Powerpacks
  • All V3 will eventually have much thinner liquid cables than current ones
  • Coolant pump will be located in the base of the Supercharger and can be installed into existing Supercharger V2 stations
  • Solar panels and Powerpack integration is a part of the design spec
  • Up to 7 V3 cabinets per bus (or block) can be linked, with an optional connection to one Power Pack
  • Supercharger V3 will have 40% better throughput performance thanks to a 96% efficiency inverter versus the 92% efficiency inverter in the Supercharger V2 units.
    • The new design also brings reduced harmonics and no over-voltage sensitivity
    • The new efficient design brings an impressive savings in purchased electricity
  • Combined AC input is 438kVA, 526A
  • Cabinets are on a shared DC radial configured bus of 880-1000
  • Any extra power can be shared across cabinets
  • Site master controller is 4G LTE for communication for remote diagnostics and billing

The new charging spec is simply the next step in Tesla’s full court press on the automotive industry. No other automaker has yet to truly push into solving public charging infrastructure needs for its vehicles. Even Volkswagen and its mandated Electrify America program is not adding enough public charging infrastructure to enable worry-free long-distance travel.

This is not brand favoritism — it is the simple reality of public EV charging networks in 2019. Compare a Hyundai Kona EV and a Tesla Model 3. They are both great cars, but the ability to simply head out on a 5 hour road trip without thinking about it (like you would in a gas or diesel vehicle) only exists in one of the two.

Other companies have public chargers that compete at the speeds being thrown around about Tesla’s Supercharger V3 network, but they are only pilot installations. More cohesive efforts to stitch together networks of next generation 150kW+ DC fast chargers are starting to be rolled out in Europe, but Tesla is leaps and bounds beyond anyone else when it comes to having a consistent product with easy access and more than 12,000 charging points in operation.

The big question with the rollout of the first Supercharging V3 station is about the capability of Tesla’s vehicles. Some of the older battery packs already can’t charge at the full power of today’s 125kW stations. The Model 3 has Tesla’s latest EV charging hardware in it, but nobody knows how fast it can actually take a charge.

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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.

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