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Tough one: Lines at Supercharging stations?

Here's a tough one. Theoretically, next year there will be 20,000 more Teslas on the road. And more after that.

It's one thing to pull up to a a supercharging station, fill up for 30-60 minutes, and off you go. It's quite another if there are already people ahead of you in line. Suddenly your 30-60 minute stop could be hours. And yet you have no option at that point but sit and wait. And wait.

I'm a big fan. I want this to work. I'm mostly convinced. But short of planning trips that are all within range of a single charge (from home), how would one insure that you won't end up sitting and waiting for hours at a charging station?

Gets all the trickier for me given that I have a family, with two very young children...

There are RV parks everyehere. Not as fast as a sec, but certainly an option.

There are RV parks everywhere. Not as fast as a sec, but certainly an option.

Note to Tesla - could you please bring this board up to 21st century standards. I keep thinking I'm using my Commodore 64...

We're hoping that Tesla adds multiple bays to the most used Supercharging stations. There will likely be lines at a few until they can accommodate the demand by adding more spots.

In the mean time, owners should leave their phone number on their dash so when their S is done charging the next person in line can call them to come get their car.

I know there are requests to add (or has it already been added?) a function on the new mobile phone app that tells you when your car is full. An alert of some kind would be nice too.

Ok, point taken about RV parks. But still... this is a pretty realistic, and not very pretty scenario, correct?

Tesla could collect data on the supercharger usage and publish on the their map app on the dashboard. Give the date/time usage data and average expected queue time for a particular trip.

Tesla could collect data on the supercharger usage and publish on the their map app on the dashboard. Give the date/time usage data and average expected queue time for a particular trip.

I'm just concerned about lines at Superchargers as I am about potential issues with the car. I hope Tesla devotes as many resources to Superstation capacity as to the development of cars.

The way I see it, it's more important to have 1 Supercharger location with 5 charging stations than 5 locations with 1 supercharger.

Check out this startup from Germany called ubitricity that is attempting to make electric car charging ubiquitous with a mobile electric meter that drivers can carry around in their trunk.

(http://gigaom.com/2013/02/12/a-german-startups-plan-to-make-electric-car...)

About 1% of all trips are long distance. And it's easy to add a few more units to a SC station. The concern is bogus; 20,000 cars equals about 200 of them across the country on long trips at any given time. About 5% of their time will be spent charging, so that makes 10 charging at any given moment. For a while, it will be higher as people "try it out", and take trips just for fun. But not much.

100 - 200 stations will be plenty, and will spend most of their time unoccupied. A few will be more "popular" than others -- so will get a few more units, like Harris (10 more units by the end of March, 1 unit available now (originally a test/demo site)).

Arithmetic is a real mystery to some people.

Brian - those numbers are fine for year one: how about year 10?

With wide acceptance of the EVs, non-Tesla owned SCs should proliferate.

Brian H: "The concern is bogus"

Well, For Valentine's day 2015, I can see a line of cars between LA and Las Vegas waiting for hours.

Yep, that's probably "worst case", but hey, I hope Tesla is prepared for the weekenders heading to Vegas for some fun.

The concern is only bogus until just ONE customer is 5th in a line of cars and has to wait 5 hours.

1 station, 5 customers at the same time? All over-charging for 1 hour? Well, Tesla must have grossly underestimated that theoretical location.

Brian H -

Your arithmetic assumes that there is a completely even distribution of when people would visit stations, which would not be the case. Sure, the stations could sit unused for hours at a time, but you get 3 people showing up to one charger and suddenly a short recharge becomes a very long unplanned wait.

Pretty sure I'm pointing out the obvious. Not saying it would happen much, but seems to me like it will inevitably happen. The question is how frequently.

Given the time scales involved, it reminds me of a restaurant with very few tables. (Except this is the only restaurant within 100 miles.) How do restaurants deal with the issue? Reservations. Wonder if that's something they'll end up doing.

Here's one more specific question - you say that 1% of trips are long distance. Where are you getting that from? If we had any sense of how often your average Tesla driver would need to fill up, that would help answer this question.

I go 1-2 times a year to SD from the Bay Area. That would be max 4 SC days per year : 4/365 is about 1%.
Rest of the year I don't need the SC.

That Ubitricity Company idea seems really, really good. Hope Tesla Motors pics up on it and does something with those guys. Looks like a really good simple, elegant solution. Had to be German!

@stimyg. You're right. "Pretty sure I'm pointing out the obvious. Not saying it would happen much, but seems to me like it will inevitably happen. The question is how frequently."

I think it would happen much. Like traffic from the Bay Area to Tahoe is brutal on a Friday afternoon, imagine what the waits would be for any SC on that route. Nobody wants to use it on Wednesday at 2AM, but Friday at 7PM, holy cow!

I'm keeping my Acura MDX for road tripping. I'll enjoy my Tesla thoroughly, all within range of my garage.

Only the Harris demo station had one outlet, and it's being expanded to 10 by the end of March. "We are looking to build a new, larger station at Harris Ranch, with a targetted completion date by the end of March, 2013."

Adding units to stations is cheap. Each one new unit makes a large difference in wait times. In & out should rarely take more than an hour. Of course, greedy users filling "to the brim" and slow 60 kWh charging can clog the system.

Oh - that's interesting. If you're right that adding extra units to any given station is relatively cheap, that would certainly help a lot.

Each unit is a stack of 12 chargers, the same ones used in the MS, and Elon says they've reached "economies of scale" making those.

In the coming years Tesla Motors are going to sell more and more EV's. And that will lead to a higher demand for Supercharging spots, and then supply will follow automatically. Demand and supply always go hand in hand.

What I am wondering is regarding the claim that all SC's will be solar powered... Assuming you have 10 charge spots and each charge spot charges say 6 cars a day @ an assumed 60% of battery capacity on the 85kWh battery (51kWh) * 60 cars = 3060 kWh consumed per day.

If you then assume on a plane of array facing south at latitude angle, including atmospheric loss, dust, etc, inverter losses and line loss, a kWh to kW ratio of 4.5, which is optimistic for southern California, you will need an array of 680kW in size. Good luck fitting that onto the roof of a super charger station.

Superchargers will probably be charging more than 10 cars per station in time, and as this rate of consumption increases, who is auditing Tesla to make sure the claims that all cars will be charged from the sun meets reality?

You misunderstood the plan. The Solar City arrays may be located anywhere if finds convenient and suitable, not just at the stations themselves. The total power generated over the course of a year will exceed the total power purchased from the utilities (which is what directly powers the Superchargers). Solar City will sell its generated power at a profit. So in effect the stations will be solar powered, but only in toto and enough to make the enterprise worthwhile.

typo: "anywhere it finds convenient..."

What about a fleet charging solution, so if there are more cars waiting to connect than there are charging slots, they could all connect, and the system would just rotate the charge to the next car in line as soon as one frees up? It would not solve the capacity problem but it would make line dynamics a lot easier to handle (no etiquette problems by not disconnecting promptly, no phone numbers required on the dashboard, etc.)

It would also be nice to be able to throttle your charging speed, even at a supercharging station, and allow the remaining charging capacity to be given to others. That way if you have time to burn you'd preserve battery cycle life, and you wouldn't hold up the line by charging more slowly.

(I'm assuming the limited resource at each SC station is the total simultaneous charging capacity.)

I don't believe that the issue of charging is strictly limited to Suerchargers, nor is it limited to long range driving. We have had some challenges with day to day commuting and having chargers available. It isn't a Tesla problem, it is a the disappointing lack of available EV chargers and charging ettiquete. I am now on a personal campaign to make business owners & communities aware of the defecit.

Last week, I traveled from the Bay Are to Sacramento on business. I did research first and determined that there were several charging stations along the way & we have both ChargePoint & a Blink cards. We have a Model S, with the 85 battery, but I was going to be very tight on enough juice to get home. I could not find the chargers at a couple Walgreens that were listed on the internet. OK, there were some in Dixon. I got there and found 2, one was some type of paddle that I didn't know how to use, the other was a TESLA charger (yahoo!), but there was a Nissan Leaf hooked up, but not charging. I waited there for a while, but noone came, so I moved on to the next station.

It was at the Nut Tree in Vacaville. Another paddle type, and this one was broken. I reported this to the Rubios located adjacent to the charger. I finally found a J chrger at the Vacaville premium outlet, where my white Model S sat next to it's twin & sucked up enough life blood to get me home. I went in to the Outlet office & thanked them for having & maintaining charging station. I also notified them that their newest Outlet Mall in Livermore has not 1 charger! They have all sorts of "Low Emmission Vehicle" parking spots but forgot the chargers!

Last week, I contacted the City of Alameda. They only have a couple charging stations on the island. Two are in a parking garage, with really narrow spots. We could not fit our Tesla in between the two Prius' parked on both sides. The other charger nearby was occupied by a big Chevy pickup. The City says that if they determine there is more need, they will consider adding chargers in the near future.

Tesla Owners,it is up to us. If you have experiences like we have, please let your voices be heard. The only way that we will get a usable network of charges is to make use of them & to request them where none are available. This is our opportunity to make a change.


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