Elon Musk Promises a New Feature to Improve Tesla Charging Journeys

Flickr / jeffcooper86

Elon Musk plans to make charging the Tesla that little bit better. The CEO responded to a user request on Monday, asking for a way to provide feedback on destination chargers. Describing it as a “good idea,” Musk’s pledge to add the feature could make journeys better for the nearly 400,000 Tesla vehicles on the road.

The feature, as described by Josh Cunningham, would add the ability to rate, comment and suggest updates for Tesla’s destination charging program. This is a system separate from the supercharging network that enables users to charge their cars at rapid speed on journeys. Destination chargers are locations like hotels, shopping malls and restaurants that offer Tesla chargers alongside parking. Qualifying properties receive support and charging hardware in exchange for exposure through the in-car navigation system, but while the map lists information about the number of chargers and supplied kilowatts, there’s currently no rating system akin to Yelp or TripAdvisor.

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The program complements Tesla’s dedicated supercharger network, which can charge most of a car’s battery in around 30 minutes with up to 120 kilowatts — far faster than the destination chargers that offer around eight to 16 kilowatts to charge a car over several hours during a site visit. The superchargers help beat range anxiety by enabling users to plan routes to visit chargers en route to their destination. Tesla has built 1,327 supercharger stations with 10,854 chargers, with nearly 1,000 more added over the past three months.

Tesla has big plans for future upgrades to this infrastructure. Musk promised in May a next-generation supercharger could be revealed in the late summer. While Musk suggested in December 2016 boosting to 350 kilowatts, he later said in the first quarter 2018 earnings call that doubling the current wattage was a more likely goal, offering a still respectable boost to recharge times.

The company could go even further in future. An April report suggested Tesla may join Europe’s Ionity network, a joint venture between BMW, Daimler, Ford Motor Group, the Volkswagen Group, Audi and Porsche that plans 400 charging stations in 19 countries by 2020, charging cars at 350 kilowatts.

While the destination chargers pale in comparison to these high speeds, the low-power chargers can help drivers keep going in otherwise patchy areas of coverage. A similar set of 22-kilowatt chargers set up by the Moscow Tesla club helped plug the gap between the city and Belarus so people could get to the 2018 World Cup.

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