Tesla's Supercharger V3 Could Boost EV Charging, and It's Launching Soon

Tesla is launching a third-generation supercharger this week, CEO Elon Musk confirmed on Sunday. The company’s electric vehicle charging network, currently capable of getting a driver back on the road with a mostly-full battery in around half an hour, could make the experience of long-distance drives better than ever with reduced stopping times.

“First public Tesla V3.0 Supercharger Station goes live Wed 8pm,” Musk confirmed to his 25 million Twitter followers on Sunday. Details are scarce, but the company’s previous claims suggest these new chargers could pack a powerful punch.

A stronger charger could solve one of the major pain points of owning an electric car. Data from Dalia Research released in 2017, which surveyed people in 52 countries, found that 50 percent feel a lack of charging stations is a key disadvantage of electric cars, the most popular reason listed. “They take too long to charge” was also a popular reason at 36 percent. More powerful chargers would mean users getting back on the road faster, which also means other users can take the free charging points.

Tesla first rolled out its supercharger in 2012, gradually boosting its capabilities so it can provide up to 120 kilowatts of power to a single car. That’s enough to give a Tesla Model S 90D around 170 miles of extra range in 30 minutes and a fully-recharged battery in 75 minutes.

The new chargers are set to go even further. Musk told investors in a May 2018 earnings call that the new chargers will likely offer between 200 and 250 kilowatts of power. It’s impressive stuff, but a slight revision from previous estimates in December 2016 that placed the new versions at around 350 kilowatts of power. Musk explained in the May call that “it doesn’t actually make a ton of sense unless you got a monster battery pack.”

A Tesla supercharger.

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These new chargers could also benefit from solar energy in a big way. Tesla originally unveiled its first six chargers in 2012 with a solar roof that would power the charging cars, giving more energy back to the grid than it takes. In 2016, Musk said the roofs could roll out to more stations when the third-generation charger launches, alongside the launch of new Powerpack batteries and the merger with SolarCity. In June 2018, Musk said the third version with be “zombie apocalypse-proof,” likely referencing the design that doesn’t depend on the grid for energy.

The new upgrade has seen delays since its announcement: Musk said in May 2018 that the chargers would likely receive a grand unveiling that summer, an unveiling later pushed back to early 2019.

With competitors like Ionity promising a network of 400 chargers across Europe offering 350 kilowatts by 2020, Tesla may face some tough competition in the race to make owning an electric car as pain-free as possible.

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