Tesla Anticipates First Cross-Country Supercharger Route’s Completion

Now with 60 supercharger stations open, and more in progress, Tesla Motors says it will “soon” have its first east-to-west cross country route fully ready.

Tesla’s route is planned to enable Model S owners to drive from Los Angeles to New York, all at no cost for charging.

As part of an ambitious project to plant many more Supercharger stations this year, today at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Tesla said it won’t be long now, and may have further details soon as well.

Tomorrow Tesla will host a press conference and it was suggested by communications representative Alexis Georgeson further will be divulged on the timing.

The Superchargers deliver up to 120 kilowatts of power and may replenish a Model S by 50 percent in 20 minutes.

Superchargers as of today.

Superchargers as of today.

Georgeson said the cross-country route will enable both 60-kwh and 85-kwh versions to make the trip.

As noted Friday of Pennsylvania’s first Supercharger station, a leg of the journey from Somerset to Philadelphia that’s 238-miles long is too far for 60-kwh models, a fact Georgson conceded.

Plans are for another Supercharger in Pennsylvania to bridge the gap, she said, and presumably any other cross-country gaps will be bridged as well.

The coast-to-coast route will be considered ready when Superchargers are on average around 150 miles apart.

In related news, over the weekend we heard a rumor circulating among Tesla owners that early production Model S examples can only accept 90 kw from Superchargers, rather than the full 120.

Georgeson said that this is correct, noting battery packs in some of the earliest Model S Signature editions were built with cells and a power electronics architecture slightly different from the ones in the vehicles currently built.

“While the cells have the same energy density, the same reliability, and are backed with the same Tesla warranty; the battery packs assembled early on had not been optimized for the enhanced supercharger power, which was developed later,” she said.

Georgeson pointed out also that the difference in charging times is not much.

“For a customer charging from 20 percent to 90 percent (more than enough to go to the next supercharger station), the difference in charging time between an early car and a current car is less than four minutes,” she said.

The main benefit to the increased power from the Superchargers now is “to be able to charge more cars per day and reduce the potential waiting times at the supercharge stations – a benefit shared by all customers,” she said.

She also refuted a purported cost of $500,000 per Supercharger that was pinned on the stations by Navigant Research.

Superchargers, as previously reported, cost roughly $150,000 to install, and there are only a couple of the $300,000 Superchargers now operative with solar and on-site grid storage.

Georgeson said Tesla’s priorities are to get the basic stations in place as soon as possible, and it will look to add more of the types with grid storage at a later date.

“Tesla is committed to build the best possible cars and deliver the best possible service – that’s what it will take to accelerate the transition to sustainable transportation,” said Georgeson. “We continue to innovate and bring more features to the Model S. Whenever possible, we are committed to share these innovations with all existing customers, for example with the free firmware upgrades.”

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