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No Limits on Supercharge Cycles!

Talked with Supercharger chief engineer tonight at event and definitively confirmed:

1. You can Supercharge as often as you like with NO degradation of battery.

2. TM software manages everything. You just hook up.

3. Charges to 50% at high rate, then tapers. After 80%, it slows more to protect it (but keeps charging)

4. Optimal use is fast (30min) charge from near empty.

The technology and the business model are game changers for EVs.

When you go 1,000 miles on sunlight for free, why would you spend $200 burning gas?

This SuperCharger is a total win.

Great info, Mark! Thanks.

There will be some degradation of battery, but probably not big enough to be any significance. Great news.

@timo - that's right, in context, this means no degradation relative to other charge sources.

All charging of any kind produces some nonzero change in battery capacity, but what's relevant here is that you need not worry about using the SuperCharger instead your home charger. You'll get similar life.

This is very important to the uptake of the SuperCharger.

TM engineers made the software smart enough to handle charge management and battery protection completely transparently to the user.

Well done team TM.

BTW, the SuperCharger chief practices what he preaches.

Today was the start of his vacation, but he chose instead to come down to the LA event.

He drove to LA from Palo Alto in a Model S and stopped at his SuperChargers to sample the wares.

They worked like a charm.

Yes, this is such awesome news. I think this brings EV's basically 90% there when it comes to practicality and convenience for every concern, and it certianly beats ICE in certain other categories. I think the 10% gap will be closed in the future when higher capacity batteries are available at lower prices than today.

Also, thanks for posting this confirmation Mark. I think it definitely is not surprising given that there are no warnings about using the superchargers on any of the fact pages.

Yes, this is such awesome news. I think this brings EV's basically 90% there when it comes to practicality and convenience for every concern, and it certianly beats ICE in certain other categories.

I think this brings EV's at 175% when it comes to practicality and convenience for every concern (compared to ICE cars). It would be 200% if it could be recharged at less than five minutes, and 250% if they were as cheap as ICE cars to buy. IOW I think they already exceed ICE in almost all possible ways, only remaining factor was the range concern, and this is now going away.

I hope Tesla build these superchargers at Europe too in near future, so that people buying GenIII cars can get that benefit from the start.

Well for me, considering all of the aspects, the Model S is better than an ICE car.

That said, there are still advantages and disadvantages. And that's what I meant by saying it's 90% there.

In an ICE car, you can go from 0% fueled to 100% fueled (or more comparabley, 0 miles of range to 300+ miles of range) in a few minutes, and refueling locations are basically everywhere.

In the Model S, you can go from ~0 miles of range to 150 miles of range in 30 minutes, and despite the agressively impressive plan for supercharger installations, you will have to be way more thoughtful about your longer trips than you would in an ICE car.

I really believe that some day, Tesla cars will meet and exceed these aspects of ICE cars, and that the time frame is a matter of years, not decades and decades, but I don't think it's honest to say that range is no concern at all, because today, ICE has the lead.

@Olanmills - That's true, it's fair to say that it's a balance. Each has its advantages.

An ICE car may do some things an EV won't do - but it'll also cost you $200 more for a weekend road trip.

What TM just did with the SuperCharger install plan and free access summarily shifts the balance.

In a world where Google maps are now on live on our dash, the downside of going where fuel is free becomes immaterial.

But the upside of $200 back in your pocket is not.

EVs just got a whole lot more attractive.

@Timo;
By end of 2013, essentially parallel with the first EU deliveries, Elon said there will be stations in EU (and elsewhere). The cost to TM is apparently almost trivial, and Solar City will be 'running' the sites and benefiting from excess power 'feed-in tariffs', which ensures they will keep the stations spic-and-span (a colloquialism referring to a longstanding cleaner brand which touted itself as the ultimate household scouring product!)

@Mark K, this is excellent news. Thanks for sharing.

~ Prash.

On 40KWH pack supercharging-

TM isn't holding this back for cynical marketing reasons, it's a technology-driven decision.

The engineering problem for 40Kwh packs is nontrivial with today's batteries.

There are many issues -

1. The 40KWH pack uses less expensive cells that aren't as advanced in their cell chemistry. That means you must constrain charging more to guarantee long life.

2. The circuitry and wiring to accept hundreds of Amps of DC current add parts that cost money. This doesn't allow the favorably low entry level price point.

3. Since fast charging works as a percentage of capacity, a half-size battery means only half the miles gained in a 30 min charge. Those numbers don't deliver the benefit a road tripper wants from a fast charger.

TM's engineering choices are honest and intelligent. Whenever there's an amazing deal like the free supercharging, everyone wants in. (Even those who don't pay for the equipment to do it.) Taken to logical extreme, some might ask "why don't they make the car free too?" But that's obviously unsustainable.

To do the hard work to make all this possible costs money so they have to charge a fair price to deliver them to more people. They did an honorable and smart job optimizing the benefit at each price point.

The 40KWH car is no slouch either. It's an extraordinary deal for the city commuter. Unparallled safety, ride, fuel economy, roominess and beauty. It offers all those benefits of the fancier model, but just not the road trip range.

The notion that you add in the road trip range and now free charging for 10k more is mind-blowing.

The SuperCharger strategy is a brilliant hit out of the park. Elon wasn't overstating the significance when he used the term "historic".

Curious tho. If the charger can automatically lower the voltage at certain charge points. . . . why can't it charge the 40kW battery slower?

Any thoughs?

I am getting the 60kw battery so I am happy.

Love the Superchargers, of course! I do wonder how much the economics that allow "free" charging may change in the future as electricity buy-back premium rates from renewable sources (Solar, Wind) go back to grid parity.

For example. California's RPS plan requires that "retail sellers of electricity shall serve 33 percent of their load with renewable energy by 2020" so maybe I'm thinking too far ahead. Nonetheless these incentives are surely the key to the Solar City/Tesla economics.

@Sudre_: They already have slower chargers for the 40kwh pack. They're called J1772.

@tesla.mrspaghet - That's right, the differential benefit is less for the 40KWH pack since you can fill to 50% capacity relatively fast with other charge options.

Moreover, it would hurt many and help few to tie up charge bays with slow charging. One 4 hour slow charge would block 8 others who need half hour fast charges. They've got architect it to provide great service to the maximum number of people.

To build great stuff, you've got to patiently study the puzzle, and think through all the these details.

TM can't explain every technically complex, confusing detail that went into it, but the wisdom of their design choices does shine through.

I am interested to see if Tesla will offer supercharging for those looking to upgrade for 40 Kwh battery packs in the future. Also does anyone know how long it takes on a J1772 to fill a 40, 60 & 85 Kwh in general.

I think Tesla would be thrilled to have the problem of 8 people waiting to charge up! This would truly be a sign of great success.

J1772 is 30 Amp or up to 80 Amp
http://www.teslamotors.com/models/charging#/outlet
30 Amp = 18 miles/hr
80 Amp with twin charger is prob close to 50 miles/hr

DC Quick following the 50% rule on the 85 and 60 pack would be 2 to 3 times quicker than the Twin Charger or ~ 120 miles/hr

Tesla please add this to the 40KWh battery pack!

Note that the 40kWH car can't be configured with the dual chargers so will max out at 40A charge rate (on a 50A circuit). This yields 30 mi/hr in current terminology but it is probably better to talk about it as 9.6kW charge rate as the "rated range" will be changing soon to more conservative numbers such that cars will soon be reporting a lower number than 30 mi/hr when charging at the same 9.6kW energy rate.

Anyway, this 9.6kW rate should yield about 4 hours to charge from zero to 85% on a 40kWH car. Realistically that is 100 miles of range unless you are hyper-miling.

I agree with others that have said that the 40kWH car just isn't really designed for road trips. Purchasers should keep that in mind when they buy. Even if they did add support for supercharging (I don't know if this would have added cost) I assume they would have to scale the charge rate back so that it would take about an hour or more to charge to 80%. An hour for 100 realistic miles still isn't very useful.

"Note that the 40kWH car can't be configured with the dual chargers "

I have an order with Twin Chargers on a 40KWh battery.
I just checked the design studio and could configure this option as well.
Now If I could add on Supercharge Hardware I would be very happy.

murray;
not happening. Way more trouble than it's worth. It can't just be "added".

olanmills: you will have to be way more thoughtful about your longer trips than you would in an ICE car.

On road trips with my ICE I gas up at Costco. So I already have to plan ahead.

Seems to me that to accomodate the 480V DC supercharge, the wiring to the battery will need to change. This change in battery wiring will be more expensive, hence the reason TM is including this only on the two larger battery options.

To get the faster charge, TM may have "parallelized" the batteries so they can be charged either 2x or 4x faster with DC charging. Without this additional wiring, it would not support the fast charging.

Also, with super chargers spaced about 150 miles apart, this renders using a car that has a max range of 140 miles pretty much useless on the SC network. Certainly, you might be able to use a local SC for local driving, but that would defeat the purpose of super chargers - for long distance travel.

@murray I stand corrected. Is this a change? I thought I remember the twin charger option only being available on 85kWH and 60kWH configs when I was filling out my order.

Anyway, sorry for my confusion...

gimp_dad,
I put my order in about a month ago. I seem to think it has always been an option but am not sure.

I think contributors to the forms should be more careful about stating facts. I see a lot of concrete statements made about what Tesla's tech can and cannot do.

If you have information such as the battery tech being put into the 40KWh pack, please share it. I am sure many of us would love to read about it.

If you are guessing about a tech then wording like:

I do not think that adding DC Quick Charge to the 40KWh pack would be a significant cost or change. Since all this tech is already developed and delivered in the 85KWh pack. I would guess that the hardware cost is negligible and would only be a small software change to tell the super charger how much current to send to the car so it does not overload the smaller battery pack.

@murraypetera - never seen anything in writing, but at the original launch event in Oct 2011 I spoke to an engineer in the factory who said that the 40kWh battery uses one type of cells, and the 60/85kWh batteries a different type. The difference between 60 and 85 is the number of cells in the pack. Allegedly the 40 and 85 packs are full of cells; the 60 pack is partially filled. Never had this confirmed.

I asked about 6 months ago about the difference in the battery options and whether the 40KW battery just had fewer cells and if that would alter the weight of the car.

The TM sale rep at the Menlo Park store said the batteries have different chemistry/technology depending on which battery option is selected. She didn't answer my weight question though. But I did get the impression that the battery compartment on the 40KW battery would be full (i.e. not 40/85% full).

This is consistent with the comment by nickjhowe above. The assumption is that the differnt chemistry/technology will alter the watt/cc or charge density in the battery.

I also asked this question and the answers varried widely depending on who you asked. This leads me to think that they had not yet decided on any of this.

Not knowing hardly any of the variables I would think a manufacture would want as much commonality as possible between products. In this case battery packs.

That said if you are buying huge quantities of a single part, you will get a much better price than getting a mix. I would also guess that they will use the same battery they used in the Toyota pack.

So it is stil an open question which we may never know the answer to but will get an indication of when the specks for the 60 and 40 come out. Weght being an indicator.

I still think DC quick can be done with any battery tech. It is just a matter of how many eletrons you can throw at the battery without damaging it. If they are using more cells of lower power density this would make it easier than fewer cells of higher power density.

Notice that the Model X will not have the 40 kWh battery pack. The 40 kWh pack is probably "old" battery chemistry, probably soon to be discontinued. I doubt if it could survive supercharging.

@murrayptera - recently hired sales staff will indeed answer questions differently from senior engineering management. That's very normal. It takes time for sales staff to get briefed on technical subtleties.

To say it's not been decided conflicts with fact. TM has published the config options for a year now. Supercharging only made engineering sense with the bigger packs. It's been decided for a long time.

It is understandable why folks buying the entry level model might cajole TM to give them the free fast charge benefit. But this won't change the physics or the costs.

There's truly more copper, more silicon, and more chemistry to do the cooler thing. And they all work together in a delicate balance that is not as simple to tack on as you might think.

Brow-beating the guys who are working their hearts out to bring you fantastic new value won't be productive.

It just slows them down with distraction, sows confusion for buyers, and dulls the pleasure of enjoying what this car can really do for you.

I know that's not the reason folks keep asking,, but it's unfortunately the byproduct, and it won't get us anything.

Instead, put the intellectual energy into carefully studying the cost/benefit of 40 vs. 60.

The 40KWH costs 10K less and is the best city car you can buy, hands down.

The 60KWH goes farther and gets fast free charging, which is an amazing, game-changing deal.

Let's choose amongst what they can do, and be happy these guys took the time and care to make our excellent new choices actually possible.

+1 Mark K. Thank you.


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