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Tesla MetroChargers - SuperChargers in Cities

Synopsis:

Tesla can bring SuperCharging technology to cities. This will let EVs beat gas in convenience, in addition to all the other ways electric is already better. This can be done economically, and scaled rapidly.

Background:

Tesla is now focused on SuperChargers for road trips between cities. This is a smart priority since it promotes EV adoption by enabling distance travel. Tesla's decision to provide unlimited fuel for trips without any recurring costs is an amazing and unmatched benefit of this car.

As the SC network gets completed, Tesla will begin to address another need: Fast charging within cities.

This will solve some other issues -

1. Apartment dwellers without their own charger.

2. Travelers who circulate within their destination city, but don't want to leave town just to charge.

3. City residents with unexpected needs for an immediate refill.

Addressing these demands will further dissolve the differences in convenience between gas and electric. But a network of city chargers will also bring with it some complex choices for TM.

Those who live very near to one will be tempted by the free fuel instead of charging at home. Beyond the economic problems this poses, the bigger issue with this is availability. If the city chargers are flooded with denizens, there will be no capacity for travelers.

So what should TM do? Here' a proposal:

Tesla MetroChargers

MetroChargers are SuperChargers that are right in the heart of town. They're as convenient as gas stations when you need a quick charge. The SC's will continue to get faster, and in the future they will be virtually as fast as filling a tank (say 15 minutes).

The difference is in how MetroChargers are priced relative to SC's.

- If you live farther than 50 miles away, it's free.

- If you live closer, you buy the kWH's you use. (At about 1.5X the local power rates).

MetroChargers are located in Shopping center parking lots, because the synergies are so logical for merchants. Prodding affluent shoppers to come and spend time at the mall is a compelling benefit for merchants. It's also a more useful and pleasant place for shoppers/diners to spend time while their cars refuel.

You don't need to hassle with your credit card either. They work just like SC's, with no card kiosks. The system knows your ID from GPS data and wifi addresses. It automatically records the transaction, debiting charges (if any) to your credit card on file with Tesla. It also understands where you normally reside from GPS history. This all works passively so there aren't any forms to fill out or complicated residence registration process.

The result is a robust network with both local and remote infrastructure. It reconciles the appeal of unlimited travel charging, with the efficient allocation of local resource to those who most need it. And it's infinitely scalable, since MetroChargers provide a self-sustaining revenue stream, and there is massive, motivated parking capacity at competing malls in cities.

The day is not far off when any last vestige of range anxiety will be roundly eliminated. Tesla MetroChargers can be an important part of that milestone.

The intent of this thread is to provide Tesla with community input on the local component of the SC infrastructure. The idea is to flesh out the issues to inform TM's strategy as they are developing it.

What do you think about the need for MetroChargers?

Mark K;
#2 - do the travellers sleep? Do their hotels have L2 chargers? Or HPWCs? If not, why not?

Certainly the more hotels with chargers, the better. But few offer it, and 10KW receptacles charge very slowly compared with a 120KW SuperCharger.

As I said in different thread, I think Tesla shoul release SuperCharger specifications, so 3rd party companies could build SuperChargers in the cities. That would solve the need for fast charging in metro areas and Tesla would not have to pay anything for it. Tesla SuperChargers could stay free forever.

And yes, chargers in hotels are important, but can't solve everything. This should be made by hotel owners (with or without any Tesla incentives).

Mark, I think this idea is quite brilliant.
3 Reasons:
1) Being an energy provider would be brilliant long-term strategy for Tesla.
2) Apartment dwellers need EV charging elsewhere.
3) The bigger the Tesla network gets, the more customers it will get.

So to my points: 1) As someone mentioned elsewhere, energy companies such as Chevron are much much more powerful than the biggest car companies such as GM.

If Tesla can position itself as an energy provider, not just car maker, it will help ensure its market dominance as the world turns to EVs.

2) Apartment dwellers will only EXTREMELY slowly be all provided charging at their parking spot, and probably many lower-priced apartment complexes simply will never take on such an upfront expense. Even in the uber-EV friendly culture of California, I have not heard of ONE apartment complex that offers EV charging to all its tenants.
In order for the vast majority of the population to switch to EVs sooner than later, there needs to be extensive quick-charging available to apartment dwellers. Parking lots at stores where people spend an average of 20 minutes (e.g. Supermarkets, Walmarts, Home Depots, etc) would ensure that on average, no one would waste the parking space when others could be charging.

3) I do believe the charging infrastructure will need to come from the EV company (e.g. Tesla) because it has a direct financial incentive to build out the network: serving customers and gaining more. People who can't charge at home would be happy to pay a nominal price to charge while shopping (with the convenience of never going to the gas station again, and the price difference savings over gas, etc).

I like this idea.

+1000 Tesla can track if you live in town. If you do you can pay with a Tesla card, very nice. Just one problem. If you SC your car as a regular the battery won't last, batteries don't like to be fast charged.

@Jolinar: Even in the uber-EV friendly culture of California, I have not heard of ONE apartment complex that offers EV charging to all its tenants.

They exist. Ours doesn't have every spot wired, but for $500 they'll wire your spot up for you. If you don't want to do that, you can use one of the three on-site 208V/30A ChargePoint stations that are free for residents, two of which are private. It's new, though, so was designed with EVs in mind.

This sounds like an interesting idea. They can't just plop a Supercharger down in a city or it'd be packed 100% of the time. Making it more expensive than charging at home would cut usage down to those who need it, instead of just using it because it's convenient.

That said, it sounds like they're pushing for HPWCs at hotels and shopping areas instead. CHAdeMO and SCC already aim to fill this exact hole, so hopefully those start rolling out more quickly as well.

Great comments, thanks -

Private SuperChargers -

These add more to the network, which helps. But it is also important for TM to provide a choice that sets a standard for price/performance and customer experience. It's also powerful to make the Tesla brand more visible to expand sales.

Private SC's can have some conflicted interests regarding pricing, and have no incentive to offer free distance travel charging, which is important to preserve. With the right contractual controls, this could be managed.

Most retail distributors that have tried a franchise model have eventually returned to wholly owned stores. This lets them stay closer to their customers and assure a good experience. There are other sources of capital for expansion that do not fracture control over quality.

Battery Wear -

This is already a very small effect, and with each SC software release, the difference in battery cycle life from supercharging becomes more negligible. For those concerned, perhaps there can be a screen setting for 'maxlife" by altering charge rates.

Private superchargers -

Would Tesla want to give control of charging to somebody else's tech? What if it charges too fast for the battery, who's responsible for the added wear (or destruction) of the battery?

I think that SC's in metro areas should not be free to anyone. The infrastructure costs are just too high. The experience with current SC's has been that people park in the spaces too long, and courtesy is an inadequate incentive-especially in very large malls-for people to move their cars when fully charged.

Instead, for metro areas, I would have a cost per minute of charging or parking, but only allow the current to flow for a maximum of perhaps 15 or 20 minutes. That would provide enough battery power to get to an out-of-town SC, or to travel within the city for a reasonable time. It would give apartment dwellers a limited alternative to fuel-up, but would strongly discourage abuse by owners.

What it fails to address, though, is non-ev owners parking in the spot. We have seen that to be a problem with the existing SC's, and where higher turnover is required, it would be a much more severe problem. I don't see landowners permitting a fenced-off area whose gates open only to Teslas.

@Mark K
It is a good suggestion and I'm behind it. That said, I hope Tesla continues building out the current "Travel SuperChargers" for the next couple years before jumping into this...

I think it would be better for Tesla to provide the equipment to third parties for city charging. The third party can add a fee as they see fit. The chargers would not be Tesla owned Superchargers so a fee is possible without breaking any promises.

I have read enough California supercharging threads to know that in major cities people will just park and charge at a free charger and sit there for hours on end while they are at a movie, shopping or sleeping. It is the minority but it only takes a few to clog up the whole system.

If only the loitering could be eliminated then the OPs idea would be fantastic. Maybe do back to back parking spots on one charger. When the first car is charged the connector unlocks and can be removed. I can then see really pissed people when they get unplugged even tho their charge was complete. Too many people and the "Don't touch my car" attitude...
or the same concept but two cords per stand putting four cords on one charger. The only difference is it doesn't split the power four ways. The third and fourth car have to wait until the 1st or second car is done charging then it automatically cuts the power over.

Good idea. It's just the logistics that needs to be worked out.

I think the growing availability CHAdeMO chargers already fills this need, and they serve a wider population of EVs than just us Tesla folks.

Steve - other specs don't come close to the SuperCharger speed, and Tesla keeps improving it faster than the committees can decide anything. The other groups are also far less aggressive than Tesla about install rate. To speed the evolution to EV's, a single, decisive, and motivated player will promote change faster.

Sudre - lingering is indeed an issue that needs solutions. Your idea sounds good. Charge cables are much cheaper than the power supply hardware and bigger utility lines.

If you have say, 24 parking spots, and four 120kW DC supplies, you could manage it pretty nicely. With a smart distribution box, you could automatically connect one of the 4 SuperChargers when it's free, and otherwise provide 240VAC (40-80 amps) while it's waiting.

Software could figure out the order of service based on when you arrive. It could also switch you to the 240V circuit when you start to get full enough that the SC is already tapering (which then switches to the next guy in line that needs it). Physical layout of the power supplies and parking slots, as well as contactor specs and cable runs would have to be engineered carefully to manage ohmic losses, but it seems doable.

That'd get you 24 slots and smart servicing of needs even if someone stayed too long. Users wouldn't have to do much. Just park and let the system figure out the optimum protocol. Nobody would touch your car or move cables. That would be pretty nice.

Mark K
I like the way you think. As a condo resident in Honolulu, I've been lobbying for a city based super charger for at least as long as I've owned the MS... Approx. 5 months. After reading some more of the ideas, I'm encouraged that just possibly a Tesla city super charger station may one day make it to the islands. I hope so.... I'm getting tired of getting up at 4:30 AM twice a week to drive to a public charging station and plug in before the other energy starved people show up. Thanks again to one and all....

I like it. I am particularly annoyed by the people who insist that destination charging is not Tesla's responsibility since people sleep in hotels.

I live in PSL florida. I can drive as far north as Jacksonville. But I could not drive in Jacksonville.

I can drive to Melbourne but not around Melbourne.

I can drive to Fort Lauderdale and back...Barely.

Forget Orlando.

No daytrips in this car. I can't stay overnight in these towns just to charge my car. I borrow the wife's grease burner.

Months ago I posted a suggestion for Tesla to sell the car without charging for the battery, but to lease the battery to the owner. Then the owner could go to a battery swap station instead of charging and swap out the battery for the cost of electricity. Battery swappers could be located at strategic locations, like service centers and possibly others. Of course the owner could charge as well. I think this is a good model becausethe time spent is less.

@Jolinar - so people have tried commercial pay charging networks on a much cheaper scale and haven't done so well.

A large-battery EV doesn't need fast charging for in-town use, so just getting more overnight charging at hotels is really the answer there. Putting Superchargers in cities where everyone will use it means you are spending a lot for the power and you have to build lots of bays to handle all the usage. That in turn would drive up the cost of the cars in order to pay for all this.

So, I think Tesla's strategy is exactly the right one. I haven't had too much trouble finding overnight charging at hotels, but that could certainly be better.

@Mark K - I'm still not buying your argument. A 45kW CHAdeMO charger can recharge a completely depleted S85 in about two hours. If that's not fast enough, then don't make the trip. You said a single, decisive, and motivated player will promote change faster. I agree. Here's one: http://insideevs.com/nissan-now-offering-15000-towards-chademo-charger-i... Nissan has installed more CHAdeMO chargers at their in-city dealerships in the last six months than Tesla has installed SCs nationwide. Both are exclusive use, but Nissan is also offering $15,000 toward third party public access installations. Is Tesla doing that for Tesla MetroChargers that haven't even been invented yet? Granted, those Nissan subsidized CHAdeMO chargers will go in metro areas with high populations of LEAFs, but guess what... a lot of ModS live there too.

I am in full agreement with @Mark K and @gwstephens@gmail.com. We must have SC in destinations. I had a thread about this many months ago and my mind has not changed. I have been on too many trips with my MS where I can get to the destination but not charge.

I would add that in addition to destination cities, we need SC at National Parks. I have taken my MS to both Yosemite and Sequoia National Parks on separate trips. Both would have been greatly helped by a SC at or near the NP. Now I want to go to the Grand Canyon, but without a SC there, it will be very difficult. A partnership with between Tesla and the National Park Service seems like a no brainer for both.

While early adopters are willing to put up with inconvenience, the larger public will not. Charging needs to be as available and easy as gas stations to get full adoption of BEV.

Wouldn't there be an outcry because Elon said that Supercharging would be free for the Model S for life?

Whenever I call a hotel I ask if they have EV charging whether I am driving there or not and I ask them what kind they have and whether it is reservable. Then I tell them about Tesla's offer to provide hotels with two free HPWCs if they purchase two.

Destination charging is likely to remain L1-3 range for some time. Attracting Tesla traffic will have to be the driver. CHAdeMO for National/State Parks, perhaps, for touring around the attractions.

Great input by all -

Captain_zap - SuperCharging stays free.

MetroChargers are a new class of service for cities that fills holes in the network. Only locals who might habitually use them see any cost, which throttles usage to manage availability. For travelers visiting a city, MetroCharging service would also be free.

Steve - Nissan's infrastructure efforts are good for the industry, and good for Tesla. But relying on Nissan for Tesla's customers however, is definitely not good for Tesla.

One look at the CHAdeMO connector vs. the Tesla connector demonstrates who has the hipper engineers. TM's architecture is far more advanced. TM's 120kW vs. 45kW for Nissan favors Tesla by 3X. And TM is upgrading this number at a much faster clip than Nissan.

Why would anyone wait for 2 hours at a Nissan dealer if they could refill their Model S while shopping / dining for 45 minutes?

Mdemetri points to the essence - electric has to be as convenient as gas to promote adoption.

Part of that requires fast charging whenever you might need it, and that includes when you're in town.

Today: Electric charges at home (great!), but takes hours to refill (not great). Gas fills in minutes.

Tomorrow: Electric refills in minutes AND charges at home. Game over.

After the distance network is up, it's essential for Tesla to address Metro needs and backfill this part of the infrastructure. This will fully outperform the convenience of gas, and drive the eventual dominance of electric.

Clipper Creek 100A charging stations are nice. They are more business friendly because they can accommodate all EVs with the J-1772.

Hmmm....the SC map has changed and now has SC along I-40 by the Grand Canyon as 'coming soon'. Looks like I will be able to get there sooner than I thought.

Mark K;
The electric service required to replicate at home "charging in minutes" is not on. Wiring up individual homes for 100kW+ service is a fantasy.

Brian - don't think my meaning was clear for you.

Tomorrow, you will be able to refill your car at a Tesla station in minutes (already refills 50% in 20 minutes at Supercharger stations today), AND still have the option to refill your car at home (which takes several hours).

This will substantially match gas convenience at stations, and exceed gas convenience at home, since you can't fill a tank there (regardless of speed).

So without any changes on the home front, and just the addition of fast, nearby Tesla stations, electric will easily outperform gas.

... though I did enjoy the drama in your "fantasy" comment. :)

Apologies if this has been pointed out before, but why don't Tesla put a couple of supercharge points up by their service centres? Here in Brussels the SC has a large car park next to it which is not used in the weekends and evenings.

Seems a no-brainer to me and it's inside the city.

But really, they should open up the possibility for anyone to use the protocol, they gain nothing by keeping it secret.

jat@jaet.org

please read gwstephens@gmail.com response once more...

I agree that Tesla does not need to build SuperChargers in towns, but I don't think that there is no business model for 3rd party companies to build it. Slow chargers in hotels are super, but can't solve everything. Sometimes you need to charge quickly and I'd gladly pay for it. Problem is that no 3rd party can build own pay-per-use SuperCharger because it's proprietary technology :(


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