December 28, 2016

Tesla is hitting the ground running with far-reaching ambitions and lofty goals. Many of these goals are not unwarranted however, and very well may see the light of day in the coming couple of years. In fact, the company’s new Tesla Model 3 received more than 325,000 pre-orders on launch week alone, making it one of the most anticipated and mass-ordered vehicles of all time. With all these new cars on the road in 2017, there will need to be a whole lot of superchargers available, and the company is making sure that the new 3rd generation chargers will be the fastest they have ever produced.

The 2nd generation superchargers already output at a decent pace, about 140 kW which was a bump up from the 120 kW output by the first-generation model. In a recent short conversation on twitter, Elon Musk mentioned that the 350 kW charge rate rumored for the 3rd generation power packs could be compared to “a children’s toy”, inferring that the charging speed will be much higher. This is astounding, as even 350 kW would charge a vehicle at almost triple the speed of the current 2nd generation stations.

Currently, vehicles are supposed to recharge in about an hour at these stations, which enables about 300 miles of driving on a single charge. If the aforementioned “child’s play” of a 350kW suggestion is to be believed, we can estimate that the new stations will be able to juice up your car in less than 15 minutes.

Batteries currently installed in existing vehicles will not be able to take that kind of charging, but the new batteries manufactured at Tesla’s Gigafactory should be able to handle it just fine. These batteries will be placed in the new Tesla Model 3 as well as new revisions of the Model S and Model X from that point forward, so we can assume that the new superchargers will be unveiled alongside the launch of the company’s newest family member. Current vehicles will likely be restricted to charging at their current rate at these stations as well, as to avoid potential lithium incidents such as those that we have seen with certain other devices this year.

The new charging speeds could also make Tesla a significant amount of cash. California changed its “Zero Emission Vehicle” mandate a few years ago to require vehicles with over 300 miles of range to recharge up to 95% in 15 minutes or less. The state’s California Air Resource Board gives manufacturers who can meet this criteria nine credits worth $5,000 each, which could add up to $45,000 for an eligible vehicle. While this is obviously not Tesla’s primary intent for upgrading their charging stations, it certainly is a huge benefit, and would add up to a lot of money. Tesla doesn’t get the whole amount like other auto manufacturers, however. Because they only produce electric cars and are not being incentivized to transition their current gas-powered vehicles like other manufacturers, they would get much less.

Superchargers that can charge your car in less than 15 minutes would be absolutely ideal for our evolving world. If we are eventually able to make electric vehicles the standard, charging stations will be clogged up just like traditional gas stations are currently, so cutting the time required for a fill up as low as possible is absolutely essential.

How do you feel about the current recharge times? Are they too long?

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