What Happens When You Stalk A Tesla Supercharger For A Day?

DEC 1 2018 BY EVANNEX 49

STALKING A TESLA SUPERCHARGER STATION FOR A DAY

Every Tesla owner has a story, and what better place to collect those stories than at a Supercharger? Autocar’s John Evans spent a day interviewing drivers at one of Britain’s busiest Supercharger locations, and compared the experience to playing whack-a-mole. “No sooner have you finished quizzing one [Tesla driver] than another has wafted silently into another bay, plugged in and gone to Starbucks. You go after them and another turns up.”

*This article comes to us courtesy of EVANNEX (which also makes aftermarket Tesla accessories). Authored by Charles Morris. The opinions expressed in these articles are not necessarily our own at InsideEVs.

Above: A look at one of Tesla’s largest and busiest UK charging locations at South Mimms Welcome Break Motorway Services (Image: Open Energi)

South Mimms Services, located at the junction of two major highways just north of London, is a typical “motorway services” site, a wonderful British institution that provides long-distance drivers with a convenient place to refuel their vehicles and themselves. It features several fast food restaurants, a BP petrol station, a 12-bay Supercharger site and an Ecotricity charging station for the owners of non-Tesla EVs.

Every driver Evans interviewed was happy with the Supercharger experience. “I’ve arrived with 13% power left,” said Model S owner John Stephenson. “I wasn’t worried: a friend reckons his S was still running with minus 16%! We’ll have a coffee while it goes back to 85%. It should take around 45 minutes.”

“There are plenty of chargers, so we’ve never had to wait, but you soon learn not to use adjacent ones because they share their power and take longer to charge,” said Stephenson’s wife Linda.

Above: There are also a few Ecotricity charging stalls for non-Tesla EVs at the South Mimms location (Image: Charge Map)

“Charging the car is very simple while the car itself has been totally reliable,” said Andrew Hodgson, CEO of an automotive supply company. “I never hold back, and I’ve never experienced range anxiety.”

Several of the drivers at South Mimms that day admitted to naughty behavior – using Superchargers for regular day-to-day charging instead of only for long-distance travel as Tesla intended. The company discourages this selfish use of scarce Supercharger space (which can also have a negative effect on battery lifespan), but short of sending letters of admonishment to suspected scofflaws, there would seem to be little it can do about it.

“I’ve got one of Tesla’s domestic chargers but I haven’t installed it,” said one Tesla driver. “South Mimms is between my home and office, so it suits me to pop in and catch up with work.” “I only live around the corner and the office isn’t far but I’m here twice a week because it’s so convenient,” said another. “We have a domestic charger but this is more convenient and, of course, the power is free,” said a third miscreant.

Above: Tesla’s South Mimms location is conveniently in front of the local Starbucks (Image: Welcome Break)

Out of 15 Tesla drivers Evans spoke with, only one had anything negative to say. Real estate developer Amit Patel said he didn’t care for his Model S’s interior finish, the small number of options and the “drab colors.” “To be honest, I’m an Audi man,” he said. “It was the Tesla’s free electricity that hooked me.”

For now, the number of Superchargers at South Mimms seems to be quite adequate. Over the course of the day, 76 drivers used the facilities, and during Evans’s five-hour shift, he never saw more than 5 of the 12 stations in use at any one time. But what will happen when Model 3 arrives in The Isles?

Tesla won’t confirm the number of Model 3 orders it has taken in the UK, but as Evans points out, “it’s reasonable to assume a few of them will be jostling for charging space at South Mimms, as well as at the carmaker’s 49 other Supercharger locations.”

Above: A look back at Tesla’s Supercharger station, pre-opening, at Welcome Break services South Mimms back back in 2016 (Youtube: David Bailey)

Tesla is busily expanding its charging network around the world, and the UK is no exception. The company has new locations in the pipeline, and is increasing the size of existing ones. To give one example, the Hopwood Park Services Supercharger location near Birmingham was recently expanded from 6 to 16 chargers. Tesla also has 500 Destination Chargers at locations such as hotels and shopping centers up and running in the UK.

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Written by: Charles Morris; Source: Autocar

*Editor’s Note: EVANNEX, which also sells aftermarket gear for Teslas, has kindly allowed us to share some of its content with our readers, free of charge. Our thanks go out to EVANNEX. Check out the site here.

Categories: Charging, Tesla

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49 Comments on "What Happens When You Stalk A Tesla Supercharger For A Day?"

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Blablubb

Yes, all great. But there is a reason that Tesla will launch Model 3 with CCS in Europe. There are about 6x more CCS locations than Supercharger locations. Tesla hasn’t been expanding its network lately in Europe except for adding more plugs.

Michael Will

Most of those ccs are less than half the speed of a gen2 supercharger though. Gen3 coming next year ?
Maybe they will onboard some smaller companies like Rivian, but focus of buildout is likely to support the coming flood of model 3.

dan

Why would Rivian go with supercharger unless their only endgame was to be acquired by Tesla? They will use CCS at 160 kW.

Clive

@ dan…

Because they are smarter than the rest.

Tesla has a huge network… Why not !

Terawatt
Tesla is retrofitting superchargers in Europe with CCS2, so Model 3 can charge there AND at six times as many other places. Yes, most of those are 50 kW, but that’s changing fast. It doesn’t make sense to have a separate network just for Tesla when CCS is becoming fast enough to turn the car into the limiting factor. It’s not quite like having has stations only for BMW — it’s much worse! There are far fewer Teslas on the road than BMWs, and > 90% of charging is home or destination charging. Charging stations are certainly much cheaper to set up and run than gas stations, on a “number of points” basis, but since charging takes much longer, especially if people don’t optimize their use of charging points, it’s not so cheap on a “number of miles” or “number of customers” basis. It is a somewhat tricky problem. Most of the time only a tiny percentage of people are on long trips. But during some periods, like the beginning and end of major holidays like Easter or Christmas, there’s a huge increase. With electric cars, because we can charge at home, the difference in demand between an average day… Read more »
antrik

That last bit is exactly why Tesla will likely *not* open the charges to “everyone”.

Impartial Observer

Terawatt: “Tesla could improve this situation by disallowing charging above, say, 80% (70% is closer to optimum though).”

In Maryland, USA, Tesla put up a sign that says: “40 MINUTE CHARGING MAXIMUM” at some of its busier Supercharging stations that have few stalls. Twitter users report that it is not enforced when there are open stalls, but there have been no reports of what happens when all the stalls are full.

https://t.co/GhRv3sOQpU

Pushmi-Pullyu

You linked to a photo showing a portable sidewalk sign. That indicates it’s just a temporary measure. The sign hasn’t been permanently installed; perhaps it’s related to construction at the location?

Tech01x

In 2018, Tesla went from 374 Supercharging locations to 427.

The CCS plugs that can charge at > 100 kW are still few globally, even in Europe.

Bla blubb

There are more CCS stations in Norway compared to Superchargers in Europe. There have been 1500 CCS stations added Europewide in the same time accumulating to 5700 and counting. I take the point on the ultra fast chargers, but this is rapidly changing. Ionity alone is constructing more than 70 sites this year, Fastned and others are also active, but I haven’t seen any good stats yet

Bla blubb

Why do you guys hate facts?

Julien

False. Several new locations have been added recently. Some as recent as a couple of days ago

DEE

Anyone know how much it has cost Tesla to build out this charging network? How much is it costing Tesla since all Model S/X get free power? Some users never charge at home and abuse the system meant for long distance travel.

Vexar

$250k per unit is what I recall. Do a search at teslamotorsclub.com

Pushmi-Pullyu

At one time a cost of $50k per Supercharger (2 stalls) was quoted. But that may be just for the equipment. Throw in the cost of buying or leasing the land, and it may well be closer to the figure Vexar quoted.

Terawatt

Add in the cost of planning, obtaining permits, constructing the site, getting the equipment there, getting the site hooked up to sufficient power, installing and testing, and finally maintaining the site, and we are starting to approach the total cost.

With people hooking up for 45 minutes, and ignoring overhead when one car leaves and another takes over, if a stall is constantly used day and night it can serve 32 cars in 24 hours.

20 cars per day per stall is probably hard to beat in reality, then. With so many Model 3 pumped out in California this year, it’s gonna be a Merry Christmas…

Terawatt
The power is cheap. In bulk you’re not going to pay even a cent per kWh. But that’s why Tesla’s model is so idiotic. Short-term sales gimmicks have been allowed to overrule all sane thinking on this topic. What makes charging infrastructure expensive is above all the fact that it takes a lot of time to fully charge an EV. But how much time depends very heavily on how much the user optimizes his charging. A user charging 30-70% or so and stopping more frequently easily consumes only one third as much time as one charging 20-95% if both get the same number of kWh in total. But you need three times as much land and hardware to do it the latter way. Free charging is to reward people for charging more than they need, even when they don’t need, and leads to many users being completely unaware of how inefficiently they charge. And even for Model 3, Tesla went for a per-kWh pricing scheme. So now there’s at least a little incentive not to charge when you don’t need to, but still none to be efficient. And while I kind of agree that leeching free juice because your commute… Read more »
antrik

“In bulk you’re not going to pay even a cent per kWh” — add a zero after the one, and that might be about right…

Pushmi-Pullyu

“In bulk you’re not going to pay even a cent per kWh. But that’s why Tesla’s model is so idiotic.”

Terawatt’s eagerness to display a very high level of ignorance on nearly any subject, and his eagerness to accuse others of stupidity or even lying based on his own ignorance, continues to astound me. This latest example is perhaps even worse than his repeated assertions a few weeks ago that Elon was “lying” because SpaceX released a video showing a concept for commercial spaceflight. Terawatt clearly doesn’t understand that before the days of commercial flight, airplane flight was just as dangerous as spaceflight is today. He can’t conceive that commercial spaceflight might make such flights as routine and safe as commercial airline flights are today.

Regarding commercial spaceflight, I’m reasonably sure Elon has read the following… and that Terawatt hasn’t:

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/7/79/LEOonthecheap.pdf

Marshal G

“I have a Tesla home charger but I haven’t installed it yet.” Cheap lazy bastards.

Pushmi-Pullyu

Yup. Freeloading cheapskates! The UK being an island, they should be voted off! 😉

Wisconsin

You need to remember that the original Model S buyers were promised free use of superchargers for life. It was an incentive for early adopters paying a premium price. Why not use what you paid for and are entitled to?

Pushmi-Pullyu

Even in the oft-cited early PR that Tesla put out about the Supercharger network, it was made clear that the purpose of Superchargers was to support long-distance travel. The primary purpose of Superchargers was to eliminate range anxiety, even if Tesla didn’t say so explicitly.

Altho media articles typically reported Tesla’s promise as “free unlimited use forever”, if you look at Tesla’s PR, what it actually said was:

“Tesla is able to provide Model S owners free long distance travel indefinitely.”

So no, Tesla car owners were never “entitled” to use Superchargers as a replacement for daily charging, and even back when Tesla charged Model S owners $2000 for access to the network, that’s not what they were paying for. Perhaps some are claiming that, but at best that’s self-justification for what they know perfectly well they shouldn’t be doing.

https://www.engadget.com/2012/09/24/tesla-supercharger/

BoltEV (was SparkEV)

“We have a domestic charger but this is more convenient and, of course, the power is free”

This sums up why free charging SUCKS perfectly. He thinks wasting 45 minutes at Supercharger is more convenient than plugging in at home while sleeping. I doubt he’d think it’s so convenient if he actually paid for electricity. “Free” makes people lose their minds.

Free charging SUCKS!!!!!!!!

Brandon

Right on! And never mind that most electric car drivers traveling around 1000 miles a month are only paying $30 to $40 more on their electric bill per month!!! Very small amount to be saving in the grand scheme of things.

Vexar

I hope he knows he’s trashing his battery.

Light

It’s a good thing regardless of what anyone thinks they “know” doesn’t matter when reality shows he really isn’t.

rey

A few years ago here in Ontario Canada a radio station would have a promo a couple of days a week gas 10 or 20 cents a liter for 1 hr or until it ran out ,lineups would be blocks and waits would be 30 or more min.s and fisticuffs were normal,all to save $25-$30. Today Costco lines are 15-40 mins to save to save $5-$8 per tankful. People can be cheap ,real CHEAP! that includes me.

Light

Saying that supercharging degrades the battery faster isn’t exactly proven. More of just a typical comment on how batteries typically work.

Tech01x

On early 90 kWh battery packs, the first generation with silicon in the anode, Tesla does impose a Supercharging rate limit if one goes over a pre-set number of Supercharging sessions.

This apparently isn’t the case with the 2nd generation 90’s and with either earlier or later chemistry.

mzs.112000
It should be known that increasing the charge rate to any battery that has ever been designed by any human in history, *will* reduce it’s lifespan/increase the rate of degredation… Tesla batteries can just withstand more cycles at the increased charge rate than the others can, but you will indeed reduce the lifespan of the batteries, even if that reduction is not noticeable for several more years. And, since Tesla’s have more driving range, they can stand to lose capacity without it being a detrimental effect to the owner. The only way to avoid this is to use supercapacitors, which can store charge, and release it really fast, and they don’t degrade much if at all. Sadly, supercapacitors have insanely low energy density. The only practical solution would be to go with a solid-state battery, which would extend the useful lifespan of a battery to 10,000 cycles or more before it has degraded to 80% capacity. Of course, with their higher energy density, you could have an EV with 500 mile driving range, lose 20% of that and it’s still 400 miles, which is enough to cross the USA even with current public charging infrastructure. And you would be able… Read more »
Terawatt

Tesla batteries are just standardized cells! In fact, the most standardized cells in existence. You can literally use Panasonic and other brands 18650 and 21700 cells interchangeably in a pack design. To say they can withstand more cycles than others is not just unfounded, the very good reasons to think they cannot!

antrik

Standard format, custom chemistry.

antrik

I haven’t heard of a solid state Li-Ion battery design yet that lasts 10,000 cycles. There *are* liquid electrolyte Li-Ion battery types that last that much, though…

(And no, it’s not always true that faster charging is worse for any kind of battery.)

Light

You are missing variables like temperature too. If L2 charging keeps a battery “warm” for 8 hours while full charging, but supercharging is a bit warmer for 45 minutes, you have 7.25 hours of increased degradation, is that more than the total degradation during the 45 minutes?

The fact is I don’t know the answer nor have I found it. But people in battery chemistry sure are curious as this is a hot topic right now and the reason I pointed this out. L3 does not necessarily degrade a battery faster than slower charging due to all the other variables people casually ignore.

antrik

Is there any evidence that there is a pre-set number of sessions? I would think it much more likely that the charging rate reduced in response to actual increase in internal resistance…

Pushmi-Pullyu

It is, “exactly”, proven that using a high charge rate on a li-ion battery pack, on a daily basis, subjects the battery cells to more stress, and thus more rapid aging. The reasons for this are well understood, and the info is easily found online for those interested in learning why.

Some things are a matter of opinion. This isn’t one of them.

antrik

If you watched some of Jeff Dahn’s presentations, you would see him pointing out that cells actually tend to withstand *fewer* cycles in cycling tests when cycled at lower rates… That doesn’t necessarily translate to real-world usage patterns — but the truth isn’t nearly as clear as you make it out to be.

Pushmi-Pullyu

Aren’t you talking about some claims that L1 charging ages the battery pack faster than L2 charging?

If so, then you’re muddying the waters by introducing other variables. My statement was entirely correct within the context of this subject, which is the long-term effect of battery degradation (or “aging”) from DC fast charging versus lower power AC charging.

Does Tesla have a software limit on how many times you can use a Supercharger before it reduces the highest power rate during Supercharger use? Yeah, it does. That’s because over-use of Superchargers ages the battery pack prematurely, and Tesla wants to prevent that from happening.

Does Tesla have any similar software limit on AC charging? No, it doesn’t, because that doesn’t prematurely age the pack… contrary to what you’re implying here.

Mdstj

I think that solution is fairly simple. You simply charge at any supercharger within 50 miles of your home.

David Murray

I can’t believe the person who said they haven’t installed the domestic charger because supercharging is more convenient. That’s absolutely crazy. It is far more convention to plug in your car at night and go to sleep than it is to drive to a special location like gas-cars have to do and then wait around.

Pushmi-Pullyu

Yeah, it’s definitely not more “convenient”. It’s amazing how miserly (that is, how cheap) some people can be; how much inconvenience they’ll put up with just to save a few dollars now and then. Apparently these are people who place little value on their time.

Terawatt

Especially, how cheap someone who bought a $100k+ car can be!

Pushmi-Pullyu
“…during Evans’s five-hour shift, he never saw more than 5 of the 12 stations in use at any one time. But what will happen when Model 3 arrives in The Isles?” For one thing, people who buy the Model 3 will be subject to terms of service that won’t let them freeload by using Superchargers for daily charging, as the article reports that more than one of these British Model S drivers are. It’s true that Tesla doesn’t have much recourse to block these freeloaders, since Tesla originally advertised Supercharger use as “unlimited, free, forever” for Model S owners. Tesla has to honor its promise to those who bought their Tesla car back then. But they are essentially being grandfathered in. Newer purchases of Tesla cars have some restrictions on Supercharger use. But of course, Tesla will have to install more Supercharger stations, and more stalls at existing stations, to keep up with demand. One thing I don’t understand is why some people are saying Tesla won’t be able to afford to build enough to support the Model 3. Why not? So long as Tesla “bakes” the cost of supporting the network into the cost of its cars, they’re not… Read more »
BroncoBet

The SC are a cost, maybe not huge, what I expect to happen would be for the chargers to become more and more crowded with lower charing rates, when sharing and lower still if all stalls on use.

Pushmi-Pullyu

There may be local situations where Supercharger stations become overcrowded because Tesla doesn’t have room to expand at that location, but overall, there’s no reason why the network as a whole will get more clogged — if Tesla continues to use the same percentage of the purchase price of every new Tesla car to support building out more Supercharger stalls. Is there a reason to think Tesla won’t do that? In the short term at least, of course not. Tesla built the Supercharger network largely to help promote sales, and if they don’t keep expanding it as fast as they sell new cars, then the value of Superchargers (both perceived and real) will decline rapidly.

(The alert reader will spot a fallacy in my argument: The installation of new stalls may lag behind sales of new Tesla cars, and as Tesla sales continue to ramp up faster and faster, that lag may get worse.)

drpawansharma

So he bought an 80K pounds vehicle for free electricity.
Sometimes I don’t understand humanity.

antrik

The fact that people have to pay a handsome sum every time they fill up at a gas station, week after week, year after year, makes them subjectively perceive it as the biggest cost in car ownership — even though generally it isn’t…

Michael

Just hoping not all superchargers are linked to fast food or nasty coffee outlets. Will some be near village delis, family sandwich bars or proper coffee shops?