Tesla just installed a total of 56 of its new V3 superchargers in Firebaugh, California, along Interstate 5, which is the main stretch for West Coast drivers traveling between San Francisco and LA. In a conversation with the Tesla Owners of East Bay account on Twitter, I learned that the Kettleman City supercharger station is around an hour south of the new station and has 40 chargers. Three years ago, it was the biggest Tesla Supercharger station in North America. Teresa Kamakea, one of the members of the Tesla Owners of East Bay, was the very first customer to ever use the brand new supercharger. She told me in an email that both she and her daughter agreed that it was kismet, for sure.
Seeing A Unicorn
Teresa was thrilled to even run across a V3 supercharger for the first time. “Charging at a V3 charger for the first time was like seeing a unicorn to me. I belong to Tesla Owners East Bay, and the club always keeps us up to date on all that is new and exciting in Tesla, so I had been reading a lot of posts about them on our club Facebook page and was hyped up about it. But the first time I’d seen a V3 charger was last night at the Kettleman City Supercharger — not the new Firebaugh Superchargers.”
“I stopped there on my way home from helping my elderly father in Southern California. They have clearly labeled all of their 150kW and 250kW chargers and I was freaking excited because I didn’t know they had the V3 chargers there — they weren’t there the last time I went through. I got charged to 306 miles on my battery in about 30 minutes while I was walking my dog and then browsing the Tesla gear and using the bathroom myself in the lounge. That was more than enough charge to get me all the way home to Livermore without needing to stop again. That was the first time that I’d used the V3 charger.”
Teresa’s Experience At The New Firebaugh Superchargers
Teresa’s story of how she found these new Superchargers seems like something out of a fictitious adventure. You’re running an errand or something and you need to stop for a minute or are suddenly forced to take a detour, and then you find something. It’s equivalent to finding a hidden bookstore off to the side in an area you probably wouldn’t go in because it’s never crossed your mind — as she said earlier, kismet.
“So when I pulled into the brand new Firebaugh location just 60 miles down the road, it was not because I needed a charge. My doggie was acting like she had to go, so I was just pulling off at the first exit that looked safe, Panoche Rd exit. That is when I saw the new Tesla superchargers at Firebaugh, but I didn’t know that’s what it was. It wasn’t on my Supercharger map and I was kinda shocked because in all of my trips I’d never seen it before and you can’t miss it if you’re on 5. I was freakin excited to see from a distance that there were so many chargers and they all had skinny cables!!! That’s how I can tell the V3 from the V2 chargers — the size of the cable. Size matters. 😀 ”
Teresa’s 1st Experience Supercharging Compared with 1st Experience V3 Charging
I asked Teresa to give me a comparison so we could show how far along Tesla has come with its Supercharging network. Teresa’s very first Supercharger experience was at the Bakersfield Superchargers. “I remember that my screen said it would take 45 minutes to charge enough to get the rest of the way to my dad’s house in Temecula. That really was not enough time for me to walk my dog, go to the bathroom myself, eat, and visit with the other Tesla owners that I met that were also charging there. I didn’t note or calculate how long it took to charge per kW.”
She noted that the charging speed has never been a concern, with her pointing out that, obviously, she doesn’t want to have to wait hours to charge, but even the older V2 superchargers would still finish charging before she was finished with her break from a long 8–10 hour drive.
She shared her thoughts about progress with me as well. “For me, the progress I’ve noticed is in the feel of the supercharger stations. At Bakersfield where I used a Supercharger for the first time, the chargers are a minority on the huge lot in comparison to all of the space that the gas pumps take up. It feels like, well, you can have a little bit of unused space here in the corner of our lot for your chargers. But the Firebaugh Supercharger station like the Kettleman City Supercharger station makes me feel like we belong and we are here to stay.”
“I’ve always thought that if I want to know the exact numbers, it would be easy enough to look that up to calculate the difference and progress from V2 to V3 chargers. For me, the more important progress is in the growth and acceptance of Tesla.”
Looking at Teresa’s photos that she provided for the article, I noticed something. The new V3 supercharger has both a Chevron and a Shell gas station within sight. This is brilliant, and strategic marketing by Tesla. Having a large Supercharging station catty-corner two gas stations off of a major interstate exit should be the norm for Tesla.
Looking at these photos is like seeing the future in front of you while frozen in time. One day, these gas stations will be either closed or converted into something else. As we observe this frozen moment while still in the present, it gives me an incredible sense of awe to be able to note this. One day, we will look back at this article and Teresa will say, “I remember when those gas stations were there. Now there’s something else.”
And that something else will most likely be related to Tesla or electric vehicles.
All photos by Teresa Kamakea used with permission. Featured photo by Teresa and edited by Johnna for artistic effects. The last thing the fossil fuel industry will see before it dies is the red glow of a Tesla Supercharger.