Elon Musk Details Ambitious Plan to Expand Tesla's Supercharger Network

Tesla’s supercharger network has grand expansion plans. This week, CEO Elon Musk outlined a number of goals for the coming two years, aimed at expanding the array of high-powered chargers to more roads to enable even more ambitious road trips. It comes as the company plans to bring its Model 3 entry-level vehicle to even more markets, with Musk hopeful for high demand as the car leaves North America.

Musk plans to plug the gaps in the company’s supercharger map. In 2019, the firm is aiming for complete coverage in Europe of its network by expanding into new countries further east and improving current Western European coverage. Tesla has previously defined its coverage in terms of the number of people living within 200 miles of a supercharger, far enough to charge the company’s car and continue the journey. The 120-kilowatt chargers can replenish most of the firm’s cars by around 80 percent in half an hour, depending on battery size, which means a Tesla Model 3 with 310 miles of range has ample scope to hop between chargers without fear of getting caught short.

The proclamation echoes Musk’s previous comments where he wrote that the firm expects its chargers to be within the range of 95 percent to 100 percent of consumers in all active markets by the end of next year. This would mean a doubling of supercharger capacity, currently rated at 11,583 chargers, which would equate to nearly 25,000 charging points worldwide. That sounds like a lot, but it’s a thin slice of the ever-expanding infrastructure — the United States has nearly 60,000 charging points alone.

From there, Musk has big plans to expand even further, with a goal of expanding the network into Africa by 2020. This would be a big improvement over the current situation, as the continent currently has no official charging points. The move is likely to coincide with improved support in South Africa, where Musk was born, as he claimed earlier this month that Tesla would “probably” open a store in South Africa at the end of next year:

These new charging points can’t come soon enough for the expanding firm. When Tesla introduced the Model 3, its cheapest-ever car, back in July 2017, it had a backlog of nearly half a million orders. As it brings the Model 3 to markets outside of North America next year, Musk said during the firm’s third-quarter earnings call that global demand will reach “probably in the order of anywhere from 500,000 to one million cars a year.” Those new buyers are going to need somewhere to charge, making expansion more pressing than ever.

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