Earlier this year, Tesla launched the third version of its Supercharging stations. While the basic functions of the V3 Superchargers are the same as previous generations, there are some subtle differences, so CleanTechnica hit the road to put the new stations to the test. We’re summarizing a few of the notable differences between Tesla’s latest Superchargers and the previous generation in this article.
Dedicated Power vs. Shared Feeds
The biggest improvement with the new V3 Supercharging stations is their dedicated 250 kW power feeds for each station. The previous generation Superchargers utilize a single 150 kW backend that is shared between two charging stalls. If a single vehicle is charging, it can pull down the full 150 kilowatts, but if a second vehicle plugs in, that 150 kW feed is shared between the two vehicles.
The new V3 stations, on the other hand, get their own dedicated 250 kW feed. No more sharing power or having to check to see which charging pair you’re plugging into at a Supercharger. Just plug in and start gulping down power as fast as the station and car can handle. To achieve 250 kW charging, Tesla brought a new 1 MEGAWATT (1,000 kW) backbone to the party. This is then split amongst four Supercharging stalls, with no need to share.
Which Cars Can Charge At The New V3 Superchargers?
Just like with previous versions of Tesla’s Superchargers, any of Tesla’s vehicles capable of Supercharging can charge at the new V3 stations. The intelligent stations then talk with the car to determine the maximum charge the vehicle is capable of receiving as the session starts. It then matches the power it pushes out to the maximum charging rate the car can handle to ensure the car gets the fastest charge possible every time.
That being said, older Teslas will not see much benefit from the faster V3 Supercharging compared to the 150 kW enjoyed on V2 Supercharging stations because their onboard hardware simply won’t support the higher speeds. As of today, the fastest charge at Tesla’s V3 stations can be had in Tesla’s Long Range Model 3s thanks to its (many) 2170 battery cells from Gigafactory 1.
Chip in a few dollars a month to help support independent cleantech coverage that helps to accelerate the cleantech revolution!
What Charging Speed Can I Expect?
The actual charging rate each vehicle can achieve at the new V3 Supercharging stations (or any Supercharging station, for that matter) depends on the size and age of the vehicle’s battery pack, state of charge, temperature of the battery pack, and ambient temperature conditions.
Tesla told us that its cars and the individual Supercharging stations they plug into are constantly communicating with each other during the entire charging session to get the best possible charge. Roughly speaking, the older the vehicle, the slower the charge. Though, as we noted above, there are many factors at play in determining the maximum charging speed.
I am not Supercharging as quickly as I expected. What could be happening?
Your vehicle and the Superchargers communicate to select the appropriate charging rate for your car. Supercharging rate may vary due to battery charge level, current use of the Supercharger station and extreme climate conditions. Your vehicle charges faster when the battery is at a lower state of charge and charging slows down as it fills up. Depending on your destination, charging to completely full is often not necessary.
The new V3 Supercharging stations also come with thinner cables, thanks to a new liquid cooling technology Tesla developed. This allows the new stations to have both thinner, more flexible cables and higher charging speeds at the same time. The difference is noticeable and eliminates the awkward, stiff cables on Tesla’s V2 Supercharging stations.
The cables used on the previous generation made it more challenging to wrangle the cable over to the charging port of the vehicle and to hang them back up. The newer cables are easier to move around and, due to their lighter weight, put less strain on the small hook that holds them onto the station when not being used.
What Will It Cost Me?
V3 stations are able to pull significantly more power down into the vehicle in a shorter amount of time, which translates to more demand charges. These are the fees charged by many electric utilities to customers pulling down large amounts of power in a short amount of time. As that is effectively Tesla’s goal at a Supercharging station, the faster stations will incur more demand charges. Tesla is actively working to mitigate the effects of demand charges by adding energy storage in the form of Powerpacks to high-usage Supercharging stations around the world, but this also incurs a cost that must be passed along.
Tesla’s V3 Supercharging stations currently cost the same as other Supercharging stations, but this is something to keep an eye on. Tesla is constantly adjusting the price of Supercharging based on fluctuations in utility pricing, demand charges, customer use, and other factors.
Shorter Charging Times
Of course, higher power Superchargers typically translate to shorter charging sessions. That means you’ll need to keep an eye on the amount of time you spend plugged in at the new stations to ensure you don’t overstay your welcome. Tesla is happy to charge you an idle fee of between $24 and $60 per hour you stay, but why not spend your hard-earned cheddar on a new home charging setup or a new portable solar panel instead?
In all seriousness, the shorter charging times at V3 stations will likely require slight tweaks to your charging behavior. Instead of spending 45 minutes or an hour grabbing a quick bite to eat, you might only have time to grab a coffee and use the restroom. First world problems. I, for one, am not complaining.
If you’re in the market for a Tesla, feel free to use my Tesla Referral code for your purchase: http://ts.la/kyle623. Doing so gives the buyer (and me) 1,000 miles of free Supercharging credit and allows us to cover Tesla even better in the future.