Tesla unveiled the first V3 Supercharger at its Fremont, California factory just a few months ago, but the company is already making progress on the first concentrated buildout of the third generation of its fast-charging stations. Thats because 26 of the 46 charging stations currently being built along the transcontinental Trans-Canada Highway are V3 chargers, Tesla tells The Verge.
The new V3 chargers are capable of charging some Model 3s at rates of up to 250kW, making it possible to gain 75 miles of range in just five minutes. So far, the company has opened just a few other V3 Supercharging stations (including one in Las Vegas) beyond the original one at the Fremont plant.
The news comes as Tesla celebrates the seven-year anniversary of the first Supercharger stations this week. In the time since the company lit up those first fast chargers back in 2012, Tesla has gone on to build out one of the biggest networks of EV chargers in the world, with 14,081 Superchargers across 1,604 stations in 36 countries.
Tesla tells The Verge its seen more than 30 million charging sessions on its fast chargers since the first one was debuted in 2012. The company says its Supercharger network handles an average of 64,000 sessions per day, and doles out a total of about 2.25GWh of energy per day meaning users take on about 35kWh of energy during an average charging session.
Depending on the model, Teslas vehicles have battery capacities that range between 50kWh to 100kWh. While theres an obvious psychological appeal to recharging your car to completely full (just like youd refill a combustion engine cars gas tank all the way), the numbers Tesla provided imply that a great deal of customers only charge up enough to get where theyre going. Whether thats because they dont want to wait for a full charge, or because theyre happy enough to just grab a few extra miles before heading home to finish filling the battery over night, is unclear.
To put some of these numbers in some context, ChargePoint which controls one of the most widely distributed charging networks in the world has more than 1,476 fast chargers around the world and 100,700 chargers in total, according to its most recent monthly fact sheet. The California-based charging company says it has powered more than 62,879,120 charging sessions in the 12 years since it was founded.
But since the overwhelming majority of ChargePoints chargers are of the slower Level 2 variety, the companys network has delivered just 563,125MWh worth of energy over that time the same amount Superchargers put out in about 250 days. Based on those numbers, the average charging session over ChargePoints existence is closer to 9kWh.
Other comparisons are hard to make. When asked, EVgo was only able to share the number of charging stations on its network, and Volkswagens Electrify America said we dont provide usage data.
Tesla may have outpaced other charging networks across the last seven years, but like a number of the companys efforts, the original vision was even more grand. In the 2012 blog post announcing the first Superchargers, Tesla promised the ability to drive anywhere in the country on pure sunlight for free.
The company also said it wanted to outfit Superchargers with solar panels from SolarCity (which at the time was still a few years away from being acquired by Tesla), with the goal of generat[ing] more energy from the sun over the course of a year than is consumed by Tesla vehicles using the Supercharger, resulting in a slight net positive transfer of sunlight generated power back to the electricity grid.
I think this day will actually go down as being quite historic, I think at least on par with SpaceX docking with the Space Station earlier this year, CEO Elon Musk said at the 2012 unveiling.
Of course, free Supercharging eventually went away, only reappearing from time to time as an incentive for new buyers. Only about six of the stations were hooked up to a solar panel setup in 2017, and Tesla hasnt shown off a fully off-grid Supercharger setup. There are a few more stations with solar panels, but its clear Teslas still a long way off from fulfilling the picture Musk painted back in 2012.
Still, Teslas Superchargers tend to excel at the two things that matter most: reliable coverage and getting as much juice as possible in a short amount of time. Other charging networks (like Electrify America) are coming online, and that will certainly shift the balance in the years to come, especially since they tend to work with multiple makes and models. But by the time theyre built out, there will also be more electric cars on the road to charge. Maybe by then, stats like charging time and coverage maps will matter a little bit less than they do today.
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