Tesla Promises ‘Free’ Supercharger Access ‘Forever’ For All Its Future Cars

Today Tesla CEO Elon Musk said the electric car company will accelerate original plans to blanket the U.S. and Canada with free charging for all Tesla models “forever.“

A total number of “200-ish” solar powered Superchargers within the next couple of years are planned for a staged roll out. This, Musk said, will make continental travel feasible with Supercharger stations about 80-100 miles apart. Plans are to increase the number of individual chargers at each station to avoid excessive wait times, he said.

The goal, he said, is to further reduce the perceived fears people may have about electric cars’ recharging and range capability. The goal of “freedom” and giving people who go with a Tesla the ability to roam at will is intended to be a major allure to the company’s present and future offerings.

The announcement to “triple” present availability of the DC fast chargers was partially sneak-previewed yesterday by Musk, and today he added details. Recharge times will take about two-thirds the present time required, he said, after deploying new algorithms regulating Supercharger current supply come along in about three month’s from now.

Musk said these faster fast chargers will deliver 120 kilowatts instead of 90 kw, and will operate at full power output longer than they presently do, rather than tapering off the current as soon to cut recharge duration.

Presently these algorithms are in beta stage and Musk said they will cut the minutes required to charge a 60-kwh Model S to about 20-22 minutes without stating time to replenish an 85-kwh Model S, but presumably these will also take two-thirds the present time.

One-hundred and twenty kilowatts of energy being dumped into the battery pack of a Tesla car is about 60 times what a house normally uses, he said.

“That’s a pretty nutty amount of power,” Musk said to media on a conference call.

Tesla says this is what the Supercharger station distribution will look like by about summer 2015.

Tesla says this is what the Supercharger station distribution will look like by about summer 2015.

Some of these Supercharger stations aren’t yet solar powered, but Musk said plans are to eventually make them all so at some future point, and plans are to install on-site grid storage to make them self-reliant with their own energy supply. Presently two Superchargers have grid storage, but this too is planned to expand.

The estimated cost of each station is $150,000 per non-solar station, and $300,000 for the solar-equipped ones. It was not clear whether grid storage would add to this cost.

Tesla’s press release states the Superchargers will be for the company’s one vehicle presently available, the Model S variants, but Musk said Tesla will make available these as “free” chargers “forever” and every model subsequent to the Model S. The company’s first product, the Roadster, is not compatible with the system, however.

Other electric cars are also not able to take advantage of the massive direct current dump afforded by the Superchargers, but Musk said he’d be open to partnering with other automakers to make their vehicles compatible. No present plans are known at this time for partnering with other automakers as Tesla offers its maverick business model that essentially amounts to including free fuel with every car purchased.

According to Tesla, present Model S drivers can expect:

• Triple the number of Tesla Supercharger stations by the end of next month, including additional stations in California, coverage of the northwest region from Vancouver to Seattle to Portland, Austin to Dallas in Texas, Illinois and Colorado. There will also be four additional eastern seaboard stations, expanding the density of the network to provide for more convenient stopping points.

• Within six months the Tesla Supercharger network will connect most of the major metro areas in the US and Canada, including expansion into Arizona, additional stations in Texas, Florida, and the Midwest, stations connecting Ottawa to Montreal, and across North and South Carolina into Georgia. It will also be possible to travel diagonally across the country from Los Angeles to New York using only the Tesla Supercharger network.

• A year from now, the Tesla Supercharger network will stretch across the continent, covering almost the entire population of the US and Canada. The expansion of the network will mean that Model S drivers can take the ultimate road trip — whether that’s LA to New York, Vancouver to San Diego, or Montreal to Miami – without spending a cent on fuel.

Today’s announcement was just for “North America” – presumably without including Mexico which is also considered part of the North American continent.

Tesla says to date it has delivered more than 10,000 electric vehicles to customers in 31 countries. Of these, over 2,400 were Roadsters.

For more information, you can visit Tesla’s Supercharger page.