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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.

Which is better - a travel route with a crowded supercharger where you sometimes have to wait, or a travel route with no supercharger at all?

Newark DE is capable of 170 miles in 30 minutes; I have charged that fast there.

If you have to wait for a charger, share a charger, or your battery is not empty, it will take longer then 30 minutes to get the 170 miles. That rate is under ideal conditions.

As we talk about upgrading supercharger locations, Newark would be a good one. I've never had to wait or share there, but I have not been there on a Friday or Sunday. Two chargers/4 stalls seem woefully inadequate. Greenwich CT and Darien CT each have double that - and are within 15 miles of each other.

I think the OP is confusing Supercharger Anxiety with general anxiety associated with planning to travel I-5 and I-15 in CA on a Friday, Sunday, or Holiday evening.
Even in an ICE all of that crazy traffic is miserable whether waiting for a supercharger, a gas pump, a Double-Double at In-n-Out, or getting cut off by a BMW while trying to pass an RV lumbering up a grade.
Give me the open road in the blissful middle of the country any day. I'm thankful that the Superchargers enable me to do that gas-free.
I think Tesla is doing a fantastic job in balancing the expansion of the Tesla-popular coastal chargers with making the whole country accessible with Superchargers. I can't believe that map is so full with so many Superchargers. These little issues are just start-up problems. Who would have thought we'd be worried about a little anxiety from waiting for a Supercharger, just a couple of years ago.
Great problems to have!

Mdemetri, I charged on Wednesday at around noon at Barstow. When I pulled in three of the four slots were in use. A fifth car pulled up while I was charging and within a minute one of the cars charging finished and pulled out. So yes I agree the four 95 amp chargers at Barstow are a little over loaded. Vegas would be more fun without the wife and kids so just leave them home if they whine about waiting a few minutes to charge.

All that said when I got my first Tesla I did not even know super chargers would exist so just the fact it's there and I can use it is amazing to me. That said I have no doubt Tesla is tracking usage and expanding the network based on usage data. I am willing to bet that within 12 months there will be adequate 135 amp latest tech chargers on the Vegas to SoCal route.

This week I charged at Kingman AZ, Las Vegas, Barstow, Tesla Service Center SanDiego, Yuma AZ, skipped Quartzite and then Buckeye AZ. The only location that was almost crowded or a delay was Barstow. San Diego is also a tough spot to get thru. Based on the SC plans San Diego will get better and chargers planned for I 15 will improve that route.

I really like the Yuma AZ charger. Cranked out a five mile fast walk thru the river trails this trip. Charge the car and get your exercise walking thru the wet lands. Win win.

Maybe they will "beef up" the supercharger network at Barstow and Gilroy, for example, by rolling out the battery swap at these locations...

@ mdemetri's wife. I really didn't mean the comment about leave the wife and kids home. Sounds like you have a great family and are enjoying travels in your Tesla. Drive safe.

Then again what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas......not sure that applies to Barstow....

Range anxiety and supercharger anxiety are both real and predictable, if we look at the next group of potential buyers (early majority) and are familiar with the adoption of innovation (look up Everett Rogers work in the 1960's). For those of us that are innovators or early adopters, we are more willing to simply let the current infrastructure, where gas stations are ubiquitous and quick and superchargers are spread out (or non-existent) and unpredictable in terms of fill up time, roll off our backs or ignore.

eg mDemetri's wife rationally and calmly explained her perspective. She would have had none of those concerns if she was driving an ICE. So there is no question at this point in time, there are certain compromises we need to make if we are to take longer trips with our MS's. That is, we need to more carefully plan our route, sometimes adjust our driving habits, and be willing to wait (sometimes to an unpredictable level), still with the concern of whether we will make it to our destination under certain circumstances (predominately trips that push the limit under cold conditions).

I have not been able to use a single SC station - where I live there is none within distance (yet!) So we have had to hold on to our ICE - a definite additional expense, and a real bummer (there is nothing that compares to driving a Tesla!).

So I believe that the range and charging emotional responses described are a predictable and appropriate response to the state of the current infrastructure when compared to gas/ICE infrastructure. But we all can agree that Tesla continues to make progress, and even the glass half empty folks would be likely to say that given a finite amount of time, that it will continue to improve so that the anxiety level, while it might not disappear, becomes an less frequent and less palpable event.

viva Tessie!

Well I experienced Supercharger Anxiety yesterday at Harris Ranch. We arrived around 4pm on a Saturday from Northern California and all stalls but one were taken. We pulled into that stall and it didn't work. I called Tesla and the tech said "Yep, we show 2B as down."

I asked about the two at the Shell station and he said that they are no longer compatible with the Model S and are not funcional. My only option was to wait. There wasn't anything he could do but I was not happy about it.

We were there two days before heading North and there was a tech fixing 2A and 2B. He had come up from the Bay Area specifically to fix those two Superchargers. It doesn't appear he was successful.

We waited 30 minutes before somebody came out and moved. It sucked. We pulled into the only open spot and charged for 30 minutes to make it to Tejon. If it's any consolation by the time we left there were three open spots so it was just odd, unfortunate holiday weekend timing.

My main gripe is that if all the Superchargers had been operational we would have been able to charge on the original one we pulled into. Things break and I understand that but in this case it delayed us on an already long journey.

Tejon was beautiful. 300 miles per hour of charging and nobody was there.

On our way North we stopped at Tejon and there were three cars charging and we became the 4th. Then an SUV pulled into a spot. My wife went over and told the driver that these spots were reserved for Teslas and that we paid for the opportunity to use them to charge. She said "We have a dog and these are the only shaded spots." She did NOT move her SUV. There are literally about 300 other spots all around but the Supercharger spots are the only ones with shade. It was only about 80F and I can see how in the summer with 100F+ heat those spots will really start being ICEd. It's going to be a problem.

Supercharger Anxiety is real and I have all of one long roadtrip under my belt to proclaim this.

Nobody as far as I read has brought up the issue of Model E coming out, which will increase DRAMATICALLY the number of Teslas on the road. My concern is what will happen when people take trips and there are lines, possibly long lines at SC's.
In the next two years I believe Tesla will increase the number of SC though.

@ Roamer,

Please re-read my message and watch the video demonstration available at BMW or on YouTube. By saying that I like the i3 nav system - and it's great - deserves a response from you about why the BMW i3 is not a good car? Come on, I expect more from you. If Tesla were like you, it would never improve its product because it would not have the ability to look at what's good in other products in order to improve its own offering.

Take off your blinders, Roamer. It's possible, in fact quite probable, that other vehicles have better and more fleshed out technological features that Tesla would be smart to look at and adopt in its own vehicles. That will only make Model S a better, more usable car that is attractive to more people.

Model E better not use the same Superchargers as Model S. There's simply no way. Wait another year and 10,000 more Model S's and the current infrastructure in CA breaks if it's not already broken already.

Thomas related, "She said 'We have a dog and these are the only shaded spots.' She did NOT move her SUV."

Yeah. I had a feeling that would be a problem. The Supercharger locations that have 'shade' due to having solar panels above, are more likely to be ICED in sunny or hot weather.

There are some parking lots at public buildings and schools in Lancaster and Palmdale that have solar panels over every parking space. The same is true at some Veterans Administration facilities.

If Tesla were to begin doing that in whole parking lots, it might lessen the likelihood of ICEs parked at Tesla Superchargers. But it would also increase their installation costs exponentially. It really sucks that to avoid this, they might have to purchase real estate and build gated facilities exclusive to Tesla traffic only.

That's why I think it is important to make sure that when the Model E arrives, it has superior mileage, well beyond the stated 'over 200 mile' range. People need to be able to leapfrog Supercharger locations when going either direction on the highway. I doubt that Tesla wants to get into the truck stop business...

If you saw where the Tesla Supercharger was located it would be even more comical. They are all alone in the very corner up on a hill while there are hundreds of parking spots down close to the restaurants. The Supercharger by far is the very farthest spot in the entire parking lots.

I just can't imagine the audacity of somebody to literally pull into a spot that says RESERVED all over it, clearly states EV Charging for Tesla customers only, and then to have somebody tell them that they cannot park there and STILL LEAVE THE CAR IN THE SPOT! Are you kidding me? Go do that in a handicapped spot in the shade and let me know how that works out.

Without the fear of a tow or huge ticket there is no reason to stop parking there. Somebody in another thread mentioned putting a small chain with a sign across the spot so that you would have to physically get out of your car and unfasten it to park. This might deter another 40% of the offenders but I'm telling you this lady was not going to move for anybody.

In the summer when it's well over 100F and there is a lot more Tesla traffic it's going to be a tremendous problem.

Sorry for derailing the thread. Back to your regularly scheduled programming.

Erect a couple of tarp-shades in some other remote part of the lot, to draw away the dog-coolers who don't have remote Tesla A/C control. >;p

Update on Newark SC anxiety: Stopped by last night on the way back from Northern VA and expected some issues given the heavy traffic. Pulled in to the SC with some apprehension but all slots were empty snd was able to charge at a glorious 324 miles/ hour. Did not see another Tessie during that time. Was in and out in 20 minutes; didn't go near Starbucks.

@Bighorn: Thanks for the offer on the Casper contact. We're staying at Fort Caspar RV Camp overnight so our charging needs are accounted for.

Clarification for number 2 "2) Will only a single spot be open and therefore I will have to split the charge and thus prolong my stopover"

Split it with yourself, meaning ....? or split it with others, where you don't allow the car to fill up but only get 80% since someone else is waiting?
Not really clear on your meaning here. Please explain.

" at Tejon and there were three cars charging and we became the 4th. Then an SUV pulled into a spot. My wife went over and told the driver that these spots were reserved for Teslas "

How does that work exactly. I would have assumed you were either behind one of the 3 lanes or perhaps the number one spot in a WAIT LANE, like they do at a bank where various windows open up gradually. How could she have pulled ahead of you? Or was "ahead of you" not the issue. Simply waiting for a Tesla Charger was the issue, shade or no shade.

@JenAlJill - glad it worked out in Newark on your way back.

While there are 4 stalls, only 2 superchargers. If it gets congested with all 4 stalls in use, charge times become longer and the likelihood of another Tesla arriving without an open stall goes up.

SCs started at 90kW, and are now at 120kW. I hope they will get them up to 150kW or more - even if the packs or nozzle can only handle 120kW, it will make a difference when there is a second car connected to the charger. In the coming years packs will get larger, and it will be even more important.

Wow all this SC anxiety!
We have none of these problems in Canada? Oh yeah that is becuase we do not have any...

Have you not heard in the news Tesla is doing a pilot project in Canada to see how to reduce SC anxiety and complaints. They have found if you build none your complaints about charging times, line ups and ICE people parking in the shade to keep the dog cool drops to zero...

Excellent--if you need anything while in WY, let me know. I'm headed down through Casper to Denver today.

Does anyone ever wonder about this whole model? Is it sustainable?

What is the expected cost to Tesla over say 10+ years of MS life?

Does one really think model E people will really pay for something that MS get for free?

@ Damian

"How does that work exactly. I would have assumed you were either behind one of the 3 lanes or perhaps the number one spot in a WAIT LANE, like they do at a bank where various windows open up gradually. How could she have pulled ahead of you?"

There are six stalls at Tejon. 1A, 1B, 2A, 2B, 3A and 3B. When the SUV pulled in there was still one available spot left for a Tesla should one have arrived. Perhaps that was why she thought "who cares?".

Why didn't Tesla build in a way to prevent ICE cars from parking in the spots? It seems like a really simple thing - like an arm coming down in front of the spot, or spikes that retract into the floor. The spots can sense a Tesla (or other compatible cars in the future if that happens) and let the person into the spot. This doesn't seem very expensive if done during the construction and i'm pretty sure the care has the proper sensors to activate the devices in this manner.

@volley - at $2500 per car, I believe it is sustainable. If Tesla finds it is not, they can simply add more to the purchase price to make sure it is. The most difficult part is building coverage when there are few cars - high installation cost for low usage. As there are more Teslas, their will be higher utilization to amortize the supercharger cost - so adding capacity for congestion is easy.

@mb - there is no more need to prevent parking in charging spots than for preventing parking in handicapped spots. Better to save the cost of the barriers and build more EV charging. Over time, I think laws and regulations will adapt to be similar to handicapped - a required number of charging spaces, and fines for illegal parking.


Vokerize the topic around SC sustainability--been covered before and you will find some threads that lay out the math behind it. BTW, no one gets the SC for free--we all pay for it one way or the other. :)


Haven't gotten my S yet, delivery June 15th, but drove my ICE from CT to NYC for Rangers game yesterday on the Merritt Parkway.

Drove past the Greenwich, CT SC's at about 10:30AM, and then back to CT around 4:40. All of the SC's spots had been ICE'd with SUV's. I know it was Easter and lots of traveling going on, but I do see this as the biggest problem.


While we do have an embarrassment of SC riches in CA, I still understand the OP's point. I use the Fremont SC all the time, so I am well aware of busy time periods and adjust my trips accordingly. However, if I needed to hit Gilroy or Hawthorne, I would not have a clue when they are busy, so I do run the risk showing up and finding a line of Tesla's in front of me.

A while back, I passed a suggestion to Ownership that they post historical hourly usage for each SC on the SC page, so for those of us planning trips, we could figure when "rush hour" typically is and plan accordingly. I would also love a real-time feed, but I am figuring its going to be a while before Tesla's SW elves get to something like that.


@wizexo - I drive by Greenwich all the time, and occasionally charge there, including on Saturday. Saturday saw one other MS, other than that all other spots were open. Never had or seen a problem where an MS could not pull in and charge.

Yes, the spots being ICEd is a major part of the anxiety and I have updated the original post to reflect this.

@Damian - 'Clarification for number 2 "2) Will only a single spot be open and therefore I will have to split the charge and thus prolong my stopover" '. Each supercharger (90kw or 120kw) is split between two stalls. The first car gets the full 90kw or 120kw if the other stall is empty. If you plug in to the second stall you will get much less than half of the power of the supercharger (i.e. <45kw or <60kw) until the first car starts to ramp down as it nears a full charge. This increases supercharging time by 2 or greater depending on the status of the first car on the shared supercharger. For example, when I was the final car to plug in at Barstow I was charging at 75mph, whereas when I was alone at the Vegas supercharger I charged at ~290mph (both starting from ~50 rated miles).

Sustainability needs to include pro-active measures to prevent 'Supercharger Anxiety'. Building more stalls at busy superchargers is a must. But as others have suggested above, Tesla should have an app that tells us what the status of any supercharger is prior to our arrival, including which stall is the best to plug into if other cars are charging. We should also be able to report ICEd spots to Tesla, with them dispatching a tow truck for removal.

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