Tesla Motors just unveiled its new supercharger, but it isn't the cool Mad Max kind we all grew up with.
Tesla just opened six solar-powered supercharger stations in California. The 90 kW superchargers are aimed at long distance travelers, and can charge an 85 kW battery pack-equipped Tesla Model S to half charge in 30 minutes. That's enough juice to give the electric cars another 150 miles of range, or the same as about three hours of driving if you could limit yourself to driving 50 MPH.
Think about your last road trip. How long did you drive before stopping to waste a bunch of time buying snacks and checking your oil at a crappy truck stop. Personally, I'm like a NASCAR pit crew when I stop for gas, but for most travelers half an hour is only slightly longer than a normal stop (and in reality, probably is for me, too).
Tesla built the new superchargers in secret, using already available parts to keep the cost down. Even better, the system's designers said that it will allow for positive transfer. That means the stations are designed to generate more power than car charging will draw, adding electricity back into the grid.
Tesla hopes that their cars' owners will also install smaller versions of the supercharger in their homes, which will add to the positive transfer of electricity into the grid. Think about that for a moment. If everyone charged their car with the sun, put little windmills on top of their houses, and had things delivered in electric trucks, we'd be living in a little enviro-utopia. Ok, not really, but one can dream.
The six California stations — located in Folsom, Gilroy, Harris Ranch, Tejon Ranch, Los Angeles, and Barstow (what, no Vegas?!) — appear to be Tesla's toehold into the infrastructure game. By next year, the company plans to have supercharger stations spread on high traffic corridors across the U.S. Tesla has plans to boost stations' power capacity to 120 kW.
Pretty soon, you might be able to drive an electric car from Canada to Mexico, and from coast to coast. With this new development Tesla is taking a serious swipe at range anxiety. Well, it'll work if Tesla's technology functions in extreme climates (as well as gasoline-powered cars do) and if the company doesn't lose its shirt in the process of creating our new happy green world.
Photo credit: Tesla Motors