Elon Musk announced a “major” upgrade to the Tesla supercharger network on Thursday, the high-powered chargers placed worldwide capable of bringing the company’s vehicles back to full charge in a matter of minutes. As the company prepares to increase its factory output, with the launch of the $35,000 Tesla Model 3, the move would help new drivers on the road seek out the chargers without needing to resort to long waits or using slower public chargers.
“Major increases in the Supercharger and Tesla urban charger network happening over the next several months,” Musk responded.
Billed as “the world’s fastest charging station” on the company website, the chargers can provide up to 120 kilowatts of power. With a 90 kilowatt-hours Model S, this gives 170 miles of extra range in 30 minutes and full charge in 75 minutes. There are 909 stations worldwide, with a total of 6,118 charging points.
As the company launches its Model 3, supercharger demand is likely to soar. Musk predicts an annual Model 3 demand of around 700,000 vehicles per year, but the company currently produces around 10,000 vehicles per month. An expansion of this size will require an expansion of external support to cope.
While supercharging was initially free, Tesla now limits this to 400 kilowatt-hours of supercharger credit per vehicle per year, which the company claims is enough to drive 1,000 miles. This will vary depending on the vehicle - the 75kWh Model 3, for example, runs for over 300 miles per charge, while the 75kWh Model S runs for 249 miles.
After the charge credit is used, consumers pay a small fee of around six to seven cents per mile of charge, assuming a cost of 20 cents per kWh. This varies depending on a number of factors including battery age and driving style. Tesla claims this undercuts the price of traditional gasoline per mile, assuming a 21 MPG vehicle is filling up at a rate of $2.73 per gallon, making it a cheaper alternative.