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Supercharger Anxiety

We are all familiar with the term 'Range Anxiety'. Tesla has solved this with the superchargers, but has created a related anxiety: 'Supercharger Anxiety'. This anxiety appears to arise from three concerns: 1) Will all the supercharger stalls be occupied when I arrive, either by other cars charging or ICEd; 2) Will only a single spot be open and therefore I will have to split the charge and thus prolong my stopover and 3) Will the supercharger be functional. I have experienced all three. Last summer, multiple stalls at the Tejon Ranch supercharger were down when I arrived (another thread today indicates this has happened again). This week, I drove to Vegas from Southern California via the Barstow supercharger. I experienced anxiety about all spots being occupied and/or only a single spot being open. Both turned out to be true on the outbound and inbound trips. While this does not bother me, it is a major problem for my wife and kids. This is the crowd Tesla needs to make happy to get widespread adoption of BEV.

I think Tesla is working to fix 'Supercharge Anxiety' with more supercharges and more stalls per site (this approach has appeared to work at Gilroy). However, I would have preferred that they had first focused on improving the high-use supercharges like Barstow before making a cross-country route that very few will use.

The cross country route was a "proof of concept" effort. Tesla needed to suppress the "naysayers" who criticized an EV's ability to travel long distances. Creating a coast to coast supercharger link certainly quieted those critics.

A for your desire to have a supercharger where you want it, you have to look at the big picture here. When I first reserved a Model S, the superchargers weren't even a publicly announced feature. Seeing how far Tesla has come in a few short years is truly amazing. Look at the Supercharger rollout map. Additional sites ARE coming. This stuff doesn't happen overnight. Have some patience.

Tesla must make choices regarding their resources. For every "must have" location, there are plenty of other owners in other parts of the world who also feel that their location is a greater priority! You can't please everyone.

I too did the LA to Vegas trip last week, but I travelled on Wednesdays. Absolutely NO problem getting a spot. I acknowledge, however that Barstow was fully occupied on my return leg Wednesday afternoon.

I think one stopgap solution would be making supercharger statuses publicly available so you can see whether they are open and also get a sense of their availability. It'd be easier to plan a trip if you knew that the chargers were mostly occupied at certain times.

And I definitely understand the wife and kids issue. That extra time feels much more heavy when you have kids waiting on you and the value of driving the Tesla instead of my wife's ICE starts feeling more trivial.

I think the cross country routes will be used a lot more than anyone thought, especially in late Spring and through Summer. Once again, they exist for the sake of normal interstate travel. California and immediate adjacent states are not normal, relative to the rest of the country. And indeed, there is the added bonus of being able to give the FINGER to all the gearhead guys who said electric cars could never do it. ;-)

Would anyone be willing to set up a camera at the Barstow location, or elsewhere, set up to take time elapse video every fifteen minutes or so, throughout one of the busiest days or weekends? It could be shared on YouTube and accompanied by a writeup, either here or at TMC. This way at least, the effect of Supercharger anxiety could be documented, and perhaps shared with Tesla Motors as well to call attention to the issue wherever it exists.

Just be happy you have it Christ I'm in Ontario Canada Southern Ontario Toronto and I hear there's over 1000 model s around here still no supercharge stations

It's a pretty big market up here too apparently they are coming but I've been hearing that since the fall hopefully they come soon but I agree with you double up on the busy locations

I was able to use them recently on a trip to Florida for March break that was pretty cool never drove to Florida for free before : )

No offense meant to the OP (honestly), but I find threads like this absolutely hilarious. You live in an area where you can easily drive for free on Tesla's dime on a Supercharger network that hadn't even been announced two years ago, much less started, and the problem is "anxiety" as to whether or not you'll have to wait for a spot.

My friend, I invite you to visit the Supercharger rollout map and feast your eyes on the Tennessee area. Or as I affectionately call it, "The Wasteland." Every single one of our Superchargers is WAAAAAAAY out in the "end of 2015" end of the slider. Put yourself in our shoes, then you'll know what "anxiety" feels like. ;-)

This company hasn't even manufactured 50,000 cars yet and you can already drive cross country and up and down each coast on free electric Superchargers. I'm willing to bet they'll add some additional stalls along the way to curb "anxiety." ;-)

(Again, all in good fun, OP. Just trying to keep things in perspective.)

This issue is not about making us early adopters happy (I have had my car well over a year). I would buy my car again even if superchargers did not exist. Rather, it is about convincing the general public that they do not have to compromise when buying a BEV.

If we had to wait in a line before we could even begin charging today, my wife would be cursing me for buying the car (or at least taking the Model S instead of the ICE to go to Vegas). More importantly, she would likely communicate her negative experience to family and friends. Tesla's success has been largely through word of mouth (they do not advertise). Bad word of mouth about superchargers is not a good idea. Very few will travel cross country relative to popular routes like LA to Vegas, with the latter creating much more word of mouth.

The last link in my trip map to go from Salt Lake to Los Angeles is coming online soon in St George. Here is the link to the building department that we can follow and see its progress. When I got my S on 9/30/13 there was a black hole called Utah on the Supercharger map. Now we have enough to make trips to Denver and beyond and soon to Las Vegas and beyond.

http://www.sgcity.org/ds/newdev_commercialplantracking_show.php?id=1771

Hey, I used that term "supercharger anxiety" a long long ago on a different thread...

And I get that all the time.

@highfalutintodd - I appreciate your post. But areas without superchargers experience 'range anxiety', not 'supercharger anxiety'. I have experienced 'range anxiety' many times and have driven my car far afield from from the available supercharger network, so I speak from experience. The purpose of the post is to say that 'range anxiety' has been replaced with 'supercharger anxiety' when traveling on popular supercharger routes like LA to Vegas. These are different anxieties, but both are real. In situations like yours where superchargers are not available, most would just take an ICE. However, if a supercharger is on your route, one must decide to take the Models S or an ICE, with the former risking the chance that the supercharger will be readily available when you arrive. On popular routes like LA to Vegas this is a dicey proposition. While it is not an issue for me or most early adopters, for my wife, kids and the general public, this is a real issue that creates significant anxiety.

I know the problem really isn't when we're by ourselves it's when the wife and kids are with us LOL

To me it doesn't seem like a big deal to wait a little fortunately the superchargers are fast

If possible try to travel off-peak hours for now I find locals use them I'm not sure was meant for that think the idea was for travelers

People can bad mouth Tesla all they want to not going to make a difference not when it comes to this issue 90 TO 95% of us driving IN our bubble for someone to badmouth something they are getting for free never goes over

I had to wait to travel to Vegas for free Poor baby

See what I mean

Sorry I should say when the families with us I know my wife probably wouldn't care either if she was by her self that's just blame it on the kids LOL

SRY lets just blame it on the kids

@jchangyy - great minds think alike!!!

@rick
You can't make Beaver to LV because of the speed limit?

I think it's a lot like the issues some people have had with quality control or other things with their Model S. A few people have had some serious issues, many more have had minor nits, and most people have found things pretty perfect.

I've visited 10 superchargers, including Barstow (5 times) and Hawthorne. I have never had to wait to charge at any location. True, some are faster than others, but I've always found places to eat or otherwise amuse myself.

That said, Barstow would be the perfect location to test battery swap. Almost everyone charging there is going to or from Las Vegas. Perfect to swap on the way, and get your battery back on the way home.

So its Tesla's fault that you can't handle your family? Come on, grow a pair.

I have supercharged dozens of times at 8 locations. Never had to wait, and if I had an issue with a supercharger I was able to either move to another stall or call Tesla and they got it working.

Mark2131;
A year and a half is barely halfway to "a few years"! ;D

Imagine that the n/w is funded and planned by Tesla's "marketing department" and it will make much more sense. They don't have many other financial levers to pump on at the company!

What did you expect?

Did you think that they could magically appear over night?

Tesla is rolling them out at a rate of about one per week. They WILL update to more charging stations as demand dictates for each station/area.

Have a little patients...

OP, your comments are completely fair. For me, I would prefer driving the Tesla all the time, and not just within range of home. The better the charging infrastructure (supercharger or otherwise), the more I can drive EV and not take the gas car, which still is required for us because the charging infrastructure isn't robust enough yet. The current and planned superchargers, and the idea of 170 miles of charging in 30 minutes as advertised, were very influential in my decision to purchase our Tesla.

I recently made two trips starting 100 miles north of the Hawthorne supercharger, with Laguna Hills as my destination for the day, returning home the same day. The total trip is 310 miles round trip. The only feasible way for this to work for me is to supercharge, as it is impractical to charge at 29 miles/hr at a Level II charging station for this trip. I stopped at the Hawthorne supercharger each time. The first time I did not have to wait for a stall, yet the car charged at half the advertised rate of 170 miles in 30 minutes. I understand now that I will not get the advertised rate if all stalls are full. On the second trip, all stalls were full, and I was second in line waiting. When I was able to charge, again it was at 170 miles/hour instead of 170 miles in 30 minutes.

Yes, it is wonderful that Tesla is rolling out superchargers, and yes, those of us who have superchargers on our routes can be pleased with that. However, I do have to think about the practicalities of whether it makes sense to go EV or gas on trips, especially when I have a coworker with me, or family with me.

After these two trips, what I have to assume is that I'll likely have to wait for a stall at Hawthorne, and when I get into the stall I'll charge at half rate. That just has to factor into my pre-trip planning. While I wish that all stalls would charge at full rate regardless of the other stalls (seems logical, anyway), which would be consistent with the advertising (maybe the advertising needs an asterisk explanation), all I can do is plan for what is out there now. Unfortunately that will mean more time in the gas car, and less time in the Tesla, the most amazing car I've ever been in.

A better navigation system, like the BMW i3's, would go a long way towards alleviating this type of concern. BMW's navigation factors in topography, traffic, and maybe even weather to give you accurate range calculations as well as integrating a database of charging locations. The navigation will automatically route you to the nearest charger when it's time.

Tesla has all of this data already, it just needs to put the pieces together.

I expect that OP preferred to eliminate supercharger anxiety in lieu of adding cross-country connections anxiety because he lives in California and has superchargers. My own preference was that they put in the East-West route through Chicago rather than putting all those silly extra superchargers on the west coast. I suspect this might have to do with my living in Chicago.

This is mdemetri's wife. I just wanted to clarify his posts about supercharger anxiety and our attitude towards the Tesla in general. My kids and I are big supporters of Tesla and reducing our carbon footprint. We, as a family, have literally driven all over the state of California and now into Arizona and Nevada as well in our P85 which we have had over a year. The kids love the car and have really never complained about the times spent charging here and there except for one time at the Harris Ranch supercharger last summer. The temperatures in the Central Valley were triple digits and the supercharger was not working properly. We spent several hours waiting for the car to charge and, if you have ever been to the Harris Ranch, there is only so much shopping at the little market store and eating in its few restaurants that one can do to pass the time. The rest of the time was spent sitting in a hallway in the air conditioning playing a card game we bought in the store while Dad called Tesla, fiddled with the charging cord, and changed stalls trying to improve our charging speed in the intense heat. The kids, however, were still quite patient.

When we were driving to Vegas this week, we left on a Tuesday and in the early afternoon, the supercharger was pretty busy with all stalls occupied and emptied stalls filling almost immediately. This made me nervous for our return trip on the Friday as we anticipated even more Tesla traffic than on the Tuesday. In retrospect, we should not have planned to travel through Barstow on a Friday in the Tesla and we won't do it again. My husband's point, I think, was that Tesla needs to be more aggressive in providing stalls at supercharger locations that are so active. There are many Teslas now in Southern California and many Tesla drivers want to be able to drive their Teslas between SoCal and Vegas, an immensely popular destination. I was anxious on the Friday as we needed to pick up our boarded dog by a certain cut off time and I was worried we would miss the pick up time and he would be housed in a small crate overnight as opposed to the large kennel he had been staying in. That was the timing issue. However, in general, the popularity of the EV will only continue to grow and prosper if more and more people feel that superchargers are readily available for longer range travel and available without long waits. As an informal Tesla ambassador (I have praised our car to many people over the past year), one of the most common concerns voiced (besides the price!) was the availability of superchargers and the speed of charging.

And, by the way, why can't Tesla create some sort of app looking at stall occupancy at the superchargers? And I agree that the navigation system is not the best. It has improved since we bought the Tesla but still has a ways to go. And the lack of lights on the vanity mirrors and hooks for dry cleaning bothers me on a regular basis! However, my more frequent Tesla grin makes up for the deficiencies overall.

PS When we did pull up to the Barstow supercharger on Friday, a lovely gentleman came right out of a nearby restaurant and moved his Tesla to a non-stall parking spot so we could pull into a stall. We were so appreciative and I hope more owners can behave like this to help all of us out! We have seen quite a few fully charged cars occupying spots in our travels.

Dear mdemetri's wife,

Thanks for your detailed explanation of supercharger anxiety from your POV.

However, if you step back and look at the GLOBAL perspective, it makes much more sense for TESLA to direct their resources to areas currently WITHOUT a supercharger than to backtrack and beef up current locations. Yes, they have done that with Gilroy and Harris Ranch, and yes, Bartstow is probably on the list.. But realistically, a supercharger in a different location is always going to be better for everyone than one in a current location. Why? It gives drivers options. It also will relieve congestion at current locations.

So, in a word, the superchargers aren't about YOU. They're about bringing the maximum amount of benefit to a worldwide ownership base. The active locations will get their upgrades in due time. Be patient.

Great point about different locations. We are willing to go out of our way to another supercharger if necessary. We have made a lot of concessions in our trips around California. I am not trying to come across as impatient or self-centered. I guess my main point is that in order to build the market share of a car that is advertised by word of mouth, one has to provide adequate supercharger coverage where there is the greatest demand. And I think adding stalls to an already existing and overtaxed supercharger is probably much easier than building new superchargers in a country where there are currently none. I fully support, however, superchargers everywhere there are enough Teslas to require them. They cannot be built fast enough.

As has been mentioned above, Tesla has a lot of data that can be used to alleviate "Supercharger Anxiety".

They know which superchargers are in use - and they know how much charge is in each of the cars.

The onboard software could provide an option to indicate the desired charging level - and provide automatic notification to the owner as the car is approaching that charging level - and again to nag the owner to move the car when it has been charged - to help free up stations when charging is completed.

They are tracking all of the cars that are approaching the superchargers - and when they've fixed the navigation software, they'll also know the projected routes and estimated recharging needed - and using all of this data could predict ahead for potential contention at the superchargers - and even include that in the routing time estimates.

One issue that Tesla cannot automatically monitor (without video at each location) is if a stall is blocked by an ICE. I used a supercharger early this morning at a hotel - and 2 of the 6 spots were blocked by ICEs. One stall was in use by a charging Model S - leaving 3 stalls open - though only one would get the full charging rate by being on a different circuit than the other Model S.

I e-mailed Ownership - and they immediately responded. Tesla could update the onboard software to provide an even easier way to report supercharger problems - when the car was in near proximity to a supercharger. That would provide Tesla quick feedback if there charging spots were blocked or there was another problem preventing full use of the supercharging stations.

Hopefully Tesla will start releasing improvements to the navigation software soon - and take advantage of the large amount of data they already are collecting to improve the supercharging experience.

I'm with the OP while conceding the validity of other opinions. Yesterday my wife and I traveled to Northern VA from PA and stopped at the Newark Delaware SC. All stalls were taken but didn't have to wait long for an opening. Pulled into the free slot but could only charge at a rate of 102 mph. Fair enough since all four slots were occupied. It remained at 102 mph as each car vacated their spots until I was the only one left and as new cars filled the empty slots. What should have taken a leisurely 20 minutes to get back 100 miles of range took an hour, and I hate Starbucks coffee. Not a major issue, but it added an unwelcome 40 minutes to an already aggravating trip because of high traffic. Tesla needs to upgrade all SCs to the specs stated in their web page: 170 miles in 30 minutes. If that's not possible, they need to amend the web page to make it clear that the 170 m/30 min range is only possible on some SCs and even then under a limited set of conditions. I am planning a cross country trip where I will be using fifty or sixty SCs, as many as four or five in a given day. If I have to add an extra 20, 30, or 40 minutes or more to every SC stop, it will not be the pleasant trip that I'm expecting... I'm suitably grateful to Tesla for the free SCs but some consistency in SC performance would be greatly appreciated...

@JenAlJill
Once you're out of CA, you probably don't have to worry about competing for amps until you hit the east coast, is my guess. Let me know how to get you that Casper info for your WY crossing. Email or TMC.

Amped, Your comment that the I3 does all those things is fascinating since the I3 currently does nothing. Even worse when it eventually does do all those things what good are they on a car that is only useful as a grocery getter. I drove Leafs for two years before driving Tesla's. The less than 100 mile range, slow charging, wanna b EV's are pretty useless.

At least the weather forecast should be easy because it will only need to be for the zip code the car is in.


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