Charging infrastructure for urban areas is a problem. With open land at a premium in congested cities, finding room to install chargers can be a challenge. Tesla is aware of the issue and, as usual, is being proactive in its response. On September 11, Tesla posted on its blog that it has developed a new compact Tesla Supercharger specifically for use in cities.
“It is extremely important for our customers to be able to easily charge their cars. The most convenient way to charge is to plug in overnight at home, and for most people, this is all that is needed. However, for customers who use their car for long distance travel, there is a growing network of Superchargers located along highways on popular driving routes. We have also installed thousands of Destination Charging connectors at hotels, resorts and restaurants that replicate the home charging experience when you’re away from home. Now, as part of our commitment to make Tesla ownership easy for everyone, including those without immediate access to home or workplace charging, we are expanding our Supercharger network into city centers, starting with downtown Chicago and Boston.
“Supercharger stations in urban areas will be installed in convenient locations, including supermarkets, shopping centers and downtown districts, so it’s easy for customers to charge their car in the time it takes to grocery shop or run errands. They also have the same pricing as our existing Superchargers, which is far cheaper than the cost of gasoline.
“Superchargers in urban areas have a new post design that occupies less space and is easier to install, making them ideal for dense, highly populated areas. To increase efficiency and support a high volume of cars, these Superchargers have a new architecture that delivers a rapid 72 kilowatts of dedicated power to each car. This means charging speeds are unaffected by Tesla vehicles plugging into adjacent Superchargers, and results in consistent charging times around 45 to 50 minutes for most drivers.
“We will continue to expand our charging networks so that Tesla owners always have abundant and reliable access to charging wherever they go.”
As our resident Tesla guru, Kyle Field, points out that the compact urban Superchargers won’t feature the full 125 kW of power that is typical for most Superchargers located along major transportation routes. However, those driving in cities are less likely to be passing through, and thus not in such a hurry to charge and go. It is far more likely they will be shopping or dining in the area and will be more than happy to wait 50 minutes to an hour to replenish their batteries. 72 kW is still far greater power than what is available to drivers of other electric cars — other fast charging stations typically range from 25 kW to 50 kW.
Tesla may be the most disruptive company since the British East India Company. Not only is it leading the way toward an electric car future, but it is also bringing dramatic changes to freight hauling with its soon-to-be revealed Tesla Semi, an innovative solar roof from its SolarCity division, intercity travel with the Hyperloop concept, and space travel via its SpaceX corporate cousin.
Electric cars and charging infrastructure are two sides of the same coin. Porsche says its first all-electric car, the Mission E four-door sports car, will be capable of 150 kW charging, but where will Porsche owners find such powerful chargers? Perhaps other carmakers will see the writing on the wall and adopt the Tesla Supercharger system for their own cars and customers before long.