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Supercharging Hidden Charge for 60 kWh S's?

I found some red flags in the press release and Elon's presentation on the Supercharger. The question that is raised is this: Is the Supercharger hardware included in the price of the 60 kWh cars or not?

The press release has a footnote that says, " Supercharging hardware is standard on Model S vehicles equipped with an 85kWh battery and optional on Model S vehicles equipped with a 60 kWh battery." To read it yourself go to the press release and find the footnote about mid-page, just above the "About Model S" subheading. The link is:

http://www.teslamotors.com/about/press/releases/tesla-motors-launches-re...

In his presentation at the event Elon said, "For cars that have supercharger hardware installed, and that will be the case for the 85 kWh pack, and a small incremental charge for 60 kWh pack you'll be able to travel for free..."

Here's the link to the video. The quote starts at about 7'50" into the video:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wgk5-eB9oTY&list=UU5WjFrtBdufl6CZojX3D8dQ...

I just signed my contract for a 60 kWh S yesterday, and I was counting on being able to take long trips that use the Supercharger. I hope that I misheard and misread. My Tesla configuration rep. is looking into the discrepancy, as it didn't make sense to him either.

By the way, I have strong confidence in Tesla and bought my first TSLA stock on today's dip.

Stu B
#P4562

Add up all the square footage of all the panels used for all the supercharger stations, calculate how much power they produce on a yearly basis. That will be less than what is delivered to Model S batteries at the superchargers on a yearly basis.

Think about the duty cycle. Most of the time (40? 80? 90? percent) those solar panels are "storing" their output in the grid. Then pulls out energy from the "bank" to charge.

If there was a queue to use a supercharger 8 hours per day that that particular SC would of course be a net negative.

Its a question of the SYSTEM efficiency and I trust that Elon and SolarCity have pretty good numbers to make the economic case. I'm really looking forward to the actual numbers a few years.

In fact, if/when SolarCity goes public they will probably disclose quite a bit about this business model.

Brian H,

No, I believe Elon, but I think for residential systems the payback period is something like 12+ years... That represents tying up a significant amount of money in a nationwide infrastructure that's not bringing in net income.

I get a little worried about them getting over extended. They are already cutting it a bit fine getting the S launched, doing the X development, working on Gen III, and developing a nationwide network of charging stations. If I recall correctly, I think the number one cause of business failure is expanding too rapidly.

Elon has huge brass balls and a pretty unblemished track record, but he may not be infallable. Not saying I want him to slow down, but it seems like making each station have some cash flow from the start would be safer.

@jbunn: That's the first time I'm hearing the number one cause of business failure is "expanding too rapidly". I think it's more like "bad business model", "crappy products", "can't sell their product", "can't manage their finances" or something else along those lines.

Brian H, Solar has a 5 hours average use in St. Louis Missouri. The further South you go that hour use goes up. In some states it goes way up because of lack of clouds on average throughout the year. There are charts for this these calculations.
http://www.wholesalesolar.com/Information-SolarFolder/SunHoursUSMap.html

Should have said Southwest... and looks like St. Louis dropped to 4.5 hours.

Here's my back of the envelope calculation:

When the short term part of the nationwide SC rollout is done in late 2013, there will be less than 25,000 Model Ss on the road, guessing less than 15,000 will be SC compatible. On any given day, say 1% (or less) are on road trips on any given day. Most of those will probably use one 30 minute super charge on a trip for 150 per day. 150 * 50kWh = 7.5mWh per day. Making 9w for 5 hours a day or 45Wh per square foot of panel works out to a little under 167,000 square feet of solar panels for the system (100 sites), or 1,670 square feet per Installation. So if a typical installation had coverage for 6 10' wide bays, it would need to be ~27 feet long.

Bottom line: if these assumptions are reasonable, Elon's assertion the system will produce net positive energy to the grid is possible.

Note: People smarter than me should probably check my math. And if anyone has a better number than 9w per ft2 for the SolarCity panels let me know.

Subtract 1 "on any given day". Oops

Mr Spaghetti,

I also agree with your statements that it's bad business model, crappy products, can't sell the products, can't manage the finance.

I don't think there is one single cause of a business failure, but likley a combination of several of these and other factors. But I want to be clear that rapid expansion is not the same as with rapid sales growth.

As a case study, I have an acquaintance that had a great but small BBQ resturant on a golf course. After years of success he built a new larger location on another course. Started dividing his time between both locations. Then never showed up at the old place, leaving it in staff hands. Quality dropped, expenses rose, the old place didn't have enough cash flow to support the new place, ect. So a combination of all we've discussed. Within a year or year and a half, both locations were out of business, taken out by the new location.

But here's a good quote from an article where the author discusses some of the top reasons for business failure.

"6. Overexpansion
A leading cause of business failure, overexpansion often happens when business owners confuse success with how fast they can expand their business. A focus on slow and steady growth is optimum. Many a bankruptcy has been caused by rapidly expanding companies."

That quote is a much more eloquent statement than I was able to make. I recall hearing this for the frist time eiehter as an undergrad or during MBA coursework. But that was a long time ago...

Remember if they are going for a system wide net surplus then not all the arrays even have to be directly over a supercharger. Many superchargers will be in areas with low cost land adjacent so in some areas with the best solar insulation additional solar could be installed nearby. However they could also install solar over their retail stores and the roof of the factory could handle an absolutely enormous solar array with the added benefit that solar over a factory building reduces heat reaching the factory roof by acting as a double skin and therefore significantly reduces the cooling requirements within the building.

However I completely agree with TEOTAWKI's calculations, with typical supercharger use an array over the chargers should provide a net neutral or net surplus generation over the course of a year in the majority of US locations. Previous calculations like DouglasR's on the previous page are simply ridiculous in assuming that the superchargers will see 100% occupancy for 20 hours a day

The sad statistic I glossed over in my calculation is that on average, each supercharger location will have 1.5 cars per day. Of course that's an average. I suspect Harris Ranch will see 10 times that typically. But some of the locations out in the boonies might get less than 1 a week on average. But those mostly forsaken stations in the plains halfway between nowhere and east nowhere will be indispensable for transcontinental travel. I'll be meeting many of them personally.

I think my comment above was misunderstood. The question was whether the solar panels will be sufficient to run every charging unit 24/7. They will not. Based on my rough calculation, they would be sufficient to charge one or two cars per station per day, as Teowatawki says. Elon probably figures that this a reasonable estimate of actual real world maximum use of the network. I assume he's right. Unless TM sells a lot more 85kwh cars than they expect, the SC network will probably produce a net surplus of energy.

DouglasR;
Nevertheless, that's what Elon said. So it depends strictly on how many arrays are installed, and their size, and location. Remember, this is not like a homeowner install. SC is getting space to install money-makers, at pricing a homeowner could only dream of, and with considerable discretion over virtually every aspect.

Pretty disappointed by Tesla here.

The "It's for software and hardware" explanation doesn't fly for two reasons:

1. I used to be the product manager for DC Fast Chargers (Superchargers) for ABB. I know what the hardware and software should cost, and it's NOT $2k.

2. The exact same software and hardware and test is required on the 85kWh version... and there's no surcharge there.

This is a completely transparent attempt to push buyers towards the 85kWh vehicle and/or push margins higher on the 60kWh.

The Supercharger network has obvious costs associated with deployment. I fully expected that there would be a fee to use it. When it was announced as 'free' I thought "Wow - these guys are sales and marketing and product experience geniuses". Now I'm thinking "God, these guys are sales and marketing and product experience idiots".

Claiming "Hey, it's optional, no one has a gun to your head" is disingenuous. Tesla sold the supercharger vision, and sold it hard. The 60kWh was listed as having it "included". Not "Included if you 'include' another $2k on the price tag", but *INCLUDED*. Nor "Included if you 'include' another $1k on the price tag because you got in early" - *INCLUDED*. This isn't 'oh, we're changing the vanity mirror'. You're adding a price to something that you previously indicated would be free.

Nissans Leaf includeds a 'supercharge' connector option as well. When it was optional, it was a $700 option. Now it's standard on the SL trim version. Ok, it's 50kW rather than 90kW, but the manufactured cost impact of this is about $10 (on the vehicle side). Sure, you have to pay to access the Chademo network... but with a 60kWh Tesla you have to pay to access the supercharger network too. It's just that with the Tesla you have to pay $2k up front.

I don't currently have any reservation for Tesla. I'm a huge fan of the company and a shareholder though. And I'm sad to see this kind of screwup from a company that is so dependent on brand. It wouldn't be a 'walk away' issue for me, but it would definitely sour the experience.

$700 for both existing and future 60kWh vehicles sounds like a fairer number to me. It would actually give the 'Drive across the country for free on pure sunlight' a ring of truth again. For now it's "Drive across the country on pure sunlight... but we expect you to pay for it all up front at time of purchase" (even if that's not how the exact maths works out).

Oh - and regarding the "Solar energy" component of the Supercharge stations; Elon could only have meant that the solar arrays will produce more energy annually that will be delivered to vehicles charging at them. As rendered, they look around 15m x 5m. With decent panels that array might generate 15kW in bright sunlight in summer. Even if you doubled the size and the efficiency it couldn't reach 90kW. It's energy that matters though, not power.

Finally, for those who are feeling p*ssed off - fair enough. But remember what Tesla are doing, and the speed with which they're doing it... and that they're actually pulling it off! Occasional slip ups in product and communication are inevitable. That's all this really is. $2k for a connector AND a vehicle lifetime of free highway charging is actually a pretty good deal. It just feels like a lousy deal because Tesla *stupidly* set an anchor of $0 for the feature on the vehicle. Think of it instead as $5/fill-up if you only use it once a week over an 8 year period. I hope they give you a better deal than that, but even if they don't it's still not bad.

Seems like you missed all the excitement. George Blankenship posted this a while back:

http://www.teslamotors.com/forum/forums/update-supercharging-and-60-kwh-...

It doesn't seem like anyone is p.o.'d about the supercharging situation anymore.

It does, I'm late to the party. Hats of to Tesla for, once again, doing right by those who have put money down.

I still think the add-on is overpriced though. If they want to exclude the 40kWh, ok. But if the Supercharger network is really a game changer for EVs (and I think it is) then is it reasonable to suggest there will be 60kWh drivers who don't want the game changed? I don't really think so.

I'd be thinking very hard about getting the 85kWh variant with the price differential down to only $8k.

Overall though - I'm a happy shareholder. Early customers treated right, as it should be. Power of difference from the lousy deal some Leaf owners are getting.

I'd argue that all Leaf owners are getting a lousy deal. I'd hate to be worrying whether I could make it to my destination if an unplanned (but urgent) side trip came up. And with the range of the Leaf - or any other EV but the Model S - that anxiety would be a daily part of life.

Screw that.

"And with the range of the Leaf - or any other EV but the Model S - that anxiety would be a daily part of life."

... unless you had access to a widely available and effective fast charger network :-)

@Nick Butcher:

Even fast charging is only practical if you have long range in the first place. Even if it "only" takes 30 minutes to charge half your battery, how often do you want to have to do that? With a car that only has a 60 mile range, it's going to be pretty often. Often enough that I'd never consider buying one.

For the Model S it's fine because you can drive 200+ miles before charging and probably need a food/bathroom/stretch break anyway.

One of the reasons I'm getting the 85kwh battery is so I never have to be late for anything because I had to stop and charge/fill my tank. It's all about convenience - people will pay a lot to get it, or at least to avoid inconvenience.

@tesla.mrspaghetti - As a LEAF owner, I completely disagree with you. Once I got comfortable with the car, I haven't worried about range at all. That doesn't mean I don't plan ahead (like charging to 100% instead of 80% when I know I have more errands to run), but it means I am confident to be able to adapt. For example, after driving across town, I found I had to make an unexpected trip out of the way. I knew that would be pushing the range, so I drove 65mph on the interstate instead of 80mph, and didn't even bother trying to charge at my friend's house that would have been possible.

In fact, I have yet to charge anywhere but home overnight (other than plugging in briefly at Walgreens to verify that it worked and was free).

That isn't to say that the LEAF or other shorter-range EV is appropriate for everyone -- if you regularly drive a lot or your schedule isn't predictable then it is going to be a problem. Once I get my Model S and my wife takes the LEAF, then we will have to plan carefully about swapping cars if she needs longer-range travel and for out-of-town trips in the Model S, but I don't think that means the same thing as range anxiety.

t.m.;
I tend to agree; the logistics for real long-range travel for the 60s just isn't there. Jat is describing the more constrained, mainly local, use of an EV.

The 85s are "over the hump". 60s require more stops and get slower lower charging, and would require 1/3 to 1/2 more stations (closer together) to make long trips.

@jat: My hat is off to you for having the guts to be an early adopter of EVs. Unfortunately the Leaf is not practical.

You disagree with me because you are a true believer, but by your own admission the car requires that you alter your habits and lifestyle. If EVs are ever to catch on with anyone except hard-core apostles, they need to enable people to live their lives as they already do - or better. If it requires people to sacrifice or adapt around their mode of transportation, it's doomed.

The Leaf is dead, it's just a matter of time.

t.m.
Or getting it a battery with 3X the range, minimum.

Hmmm now I can decide 60 or 80?

Only 8k diff. I have not signed contract yet but ordered the 60.

The Leaf is not dead until Tesla comes out with a cheaper car. People have to stretch their budget to get a Leaf. They will never be able to cough up the extra money for a base model S. I think Nissan really wants electric cars to work.

For the average two car families people will realize the Model S is too pricey. If you are keeping a gas car the extra $20,000 to do road trips is honestly over priced. WE don't think so because WE really want to push EVs. We already know we are paying a little EV extra and except that to get the movement going. As time passes the Model S will stay in it's price range and features will increase.

The Nissan Leaf is safe if they can improve the range in the next 3 years.

vlarry;
For you, a special bonus: they'll boost it to 85kWh!!
;0
;)

Also the Leaf can do things the base Model S can't. I routinely drive the ~180 miles to our cabin in the mountains in the Leaf. Since I can choose between more than 10 different CHAdeMO chargers on the route there, I have no problem doing the trip. The 40kWh Model S would take forever, having to charge at 3.7kW for at least 5 hours en route.

I am of course getting a Model S, but less than 85kWh battery was never an option. This will put the price at about 2,3x what I paid for the Leaf. My wife is thrilled about getting full time access to the Leaf though :)

Now here's a though: Please offer EU versions with newer 3400mAh cells, putting total capacity at ~93kWh. I'll offer to pay at least $5k extra for those 8kWh ;)


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