Are Tesla Superchargers Too Crowded? Video Ride Along To 6 Supercharging Stations

Tesla Superchargers

JAN 6 2017 BY STEVEN LOVEDAY 59

The Electric Israeli has a Facebook page and a YouTube channel dedicated to electric cars, sustainable energy, and solar panels. He takes a long road trip on Interstate 95 (which runs from Maine to Florida) to show availability at six Tesla Supercharger stations along the way.

Even in the busiest areas, Tesla Superchargers were readily available. This is bound to change drastically once there are many Tesla Model 3's on roadways

Even in the busiest areas, Tesla Superchargers were readily available. This is bound to change drastically once there are many Tesla Model 3’s on roadways.

His travels take him from the Fort Lauderdale area in Florida, to his home in New Jersey. Unfortunately, he is driving an ICE vehicle, so he makes the extra stops at the Supercharger stations just for this “study.”  (One might want to leap ahead to various station arrivals in the video if you don’t have a lot of time)

Video Description via The Electric Israeli on YouTube:

Are Tesla Superchargers too crowded? Join me as I visit 6 Tesla Superchargers along Interstate 95.

Surprisingly, some stations were nearly empty. He visits some at key times, while others are late in the evening or early in the morning. He tries to give as much info as possible, such as the time, the total amount of stalls, and the activity over a period of time. Even at the busiest stations, in congested areas of New Jersey, there were multiple spots to spare. He concludes that this will all change drastically once there are many Tesla Model 3’s on the road.

Hanging out a Supercharging station after a full charge has been dispense is now a costly endeavor at busy stations

Hanging out a Supercharging station after a full charge has been dispense is now a costly endeavor at busy stations

He plans to take a trip out to the west coast next summer and travel from San Francisco to Vancouver, making a similar account of Supercharger availability.

To ease congestion Tesla has recently implemented a couple of programs:

  • new purchases made after Jan 1 (or Jan 15 in some regions), will only come with the first 400 kWh of Supercharging power free (no longer “free” for life)
  • busy Supercharging stations will penalize any owners a 40 cent per minute “idling fee” for leaving Tesla EVs parked in Supercharging stalls after a full charge has been dispensed

Currently there is about 110,000 Tesla vehicles on U.S. roadways. At some point in the foreseeable future, with current Model X and S deliveries, and some 400,000 Model 3 vehicles coming, this number will grow exponentially. He adds that his greater concern for Tesla’s future is service center availability.

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59 Comments on "Are Tesla Superchargers Too Crowded? Video Ride Along To 6 Supercharging Stations"

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This is apparently midweek. Presumably, the Superchargers get more crowded on the weekends when the working class has time off to do some long distance traveling.

It’s an odd choice by Tesla to locate that one Supercharger in a pay garage at the airport. Can any Tesla owners confirm whether they have to pay for parking while Supercharging or is it validated parking where the parking fee gets waived?

If you go the the welcome center, ( 5 min walk) they will give you a free pass. But there were (or I didn’t see) no signs stating that. Some other owner told me so the second time I used this supercharger.

I wonder if these are used for long distance driving. Those are awful lot of cars driving over 200 miles. I suspect majority of them are just using free charging on their way home / work / play. Do I sound bitter? 😉

3 free hours for tesla owners in Savannah airport parking garage. Just exit via window to left. They should have sign, but they don’t.

3 Hours Free? Are they Level 2 Charging Stations? I don’t think even Tesla gives that now at busy Superchargers!

One would think that 2 hours would be enough to meet and pick someone up, or drop them off! Even 90 minutes free is probably enough for that function, and still should be more than enough for a full charge on any Supercharger! (However, if they are Level 2, at 240V and under 80A, 3 hours @ 32A is probably a nice opportunity charge top up!)

FOUR EXCLAMATION POINTS??????????????!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! You don’t get this do you? The parking garage very likely cares LITTLE about those Tesla spaces and their ACTUAL USAGE. Bring up the charging level and 2 hours and you show that you don’t see the big picture OR the nature of someone asking this question in the first place. The question is about fees to get ACCESS to the supercharger, NOT managing INDIVIDUAL spaces within the MULTI-FLOOR parking garage. Obviously, I gave specific enough information to indicate that I had personal experience at this supercharger. The 3 hour timeframe is what I was told by the attendant. Did I actually stay a full three hours to verify it? No. I used this site in June and December. The procedure was the same both times. In December, I was there about an hour. I don’t recall how long I stayed in June. The first time I asked if there was food available to eat and was told that the food court in the terminal was open until 8 PM. Since it was then 7:45, I didn’t bother. It would make sense for the airport to give you free parking if you would indeed go inside the… Read more »

And I will add this for anyone who wants to use the Savannah supercharger. I would recommend going through the terminal area and entering the parking garage from that end (northern end, if memory serves). If you do this, there is nothing but a short, straight path to get to the stalls, which will be on your right. For perspective, they are about the closest spaces to the pay booths. If you were standing at the pay booths, looking back to the garage, they would be slightly to your left.

This map shows clearly where Tesla is located in the parking garage.
http://savannahairport.com/parking

I was on the same route when he was doing it too. I never see many Teslas at the I95 superchargers from NC to FL.

Regarding the Savannah airport, the parking is free for Tesla charging by showing your key fob to the attendant.

I would have thunk that rolling up to the attendant’s booth in your Tesla would have sufficed, without the need to also show them your Tesla key fob. But what do I know. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

😉

That had me scratching my head, too.

I can see that if the attendant didn’t notice the Tesla logo on the front of the car, he might not realize it’s a Tesla when the driver pulls up to the attendant’s booth. But why would the attendant need to see the driver’s fob, when he could just as easily look at the steering wheel to see if the “T” Tesla logo is there?

That’s not to say there isn’t a good reason; my speculation here is no better than being an armchair general. But I do find it puzzling.

Thank you Steven for posting my video. It was so much fun doing this study. The “ice” car I drove is a Toyota Rav 4 Hybrid. Otherwise, we have a Volt and a Leaf for our daily drives. Looking forward for my summer drive on the West cost.

No problemo (I’ll pretend I am Steve and speak for him), thanks for putting it together!

And we will forgive you this time for using a *cough* hybrid *cough*…I feel dirty just saying it, (=

LOL!

Now try his again in a tesla using autopilot most of the way, much more fun… the 2016 Rav4 ev mode is so sad especially knowing they already had a
Real Rav4 EV with teslas technology years ago but discontinued it… 2016 Rav4 EV mode is only useful for crawling in parking lot, despite near full battery it kicks in the gas engine when carefully stepping on accelerator from red light or when rolling at more than 20mph speed….

If 10 years ago, Universities and private individuals and Businesses could make aftermarket mods to make the Prius a Plug In Hybrid (and some still offer that option today), why has there been no opportunists announce such a plan for the new RAV4 Hybrid?

In the same time, all the shorter range PHEV’s could be candidates for a battery boost to give greater EV range, either using Hymotion or Engineer type add ins, or even better – using a Match Voltage Pack, to gain Regen on the extra pack!

The one thing Tesla could have done, and still could do in the future, at just a slightly increased cost, is to locate the “Supercharger Stalls” in the MIDDLE of the pavement such that cars could pull up on either side of it – this would greatly alleviate the parking/hogging problem as the next guy could simply see when the car is done charging and move the charge connector over to his car, thereby maximizing the utility of all the ‘stalls’.

As it is in most places, you have to wait for the car that has finished charging for the owner to come back and move his car out of the way. The 5 minute grace period, and fine after that help somewhat, but allowing the cars to approach from both sides would give at least another 10% availability (i.e. 6 minutes per hour)

Even if Tesla built the chargers as you describe, there is the remaining issue that the charger cable is locked by the car and cannot be disconnected by anyone but the owner of the charging car.
The connected vehicle’s doors would have to be unlocked to free the charging cable.

That is why you have 2 cables on it. Sheesh 😀

Apparently I should be a Tesla engineer…

I said this a while back. Just make 2 spots per SC. Problem solved. Even if only one can charge at a time when the 1st one is done then the 2nd one will start.

“Just make 2 spots per SC.”

That’s actually how they work. The expensive portion is a stack of 12 individual chargers similar to the onboard AC chargers in the car. These stacks are shared between two charging stalls. Most stalls have numbers so you can tell which stalls are paired (e.g. stall 1A shares a charging stack with 1B, 2A shares a stack with 2B, etc.) A great description of how the pairing works is in post #102 here: https://teslamotorsclub.com/tmc/threads/some-california-superchargers-not-providing-maximum-charging-rates.75612/page-6

The charging stacks are usually in some sort of enclosure near the charging stalls and all the wiring is underground. The slick looking thing that holds the plug is mostly for show. Here is what the supercharger inside the Fremont service center looks like: https://teslamotorsclub.com/tmc/attachments/20161222_173256-jpg.207331/

So what we really need is 4 spots per charger. First come first serve. Two at a time.

Every Supercharger already has two charging cables, and typically there are already two stalls per Superccharger.

The second car hooked up to a Supercharger doesn’t need to wait for the first to stop charging, either. The power must be shared between the two cars, which will in some cases increase the charging time for one or both cars, but certainly will be faster overall than forcing the 2nd car to wait until the 1st car is completely finished with the charging session.

Furthermore, DJ, your suggestion that Superchargers should be set up to let a car “pull up” to it, suggests you think they should be laid out like gas stations. That would require significantly more space than the parking stall arrangement Superchargers use. In effect, it would force Tesla to reduce the number of Superchargers available at any station, because there wouldn’t be room for as many Superchargers in the same space.

Not a good idea!

Thankfully the others here do not think:

1). releasing the charger cord when charging is done.

2). Painting yellow lines on pavement…

is too technical a job for Tesla. I agree, I think they can do it otherwise I wouldn’t have suggested it.

But then ‘traffic’ discussions are outside the scope of your ability to conceptualize anyway.

Bill, it sounds like DJ got Superchargers mixed up with Multi-Standard DC QC’s, like ABB and others, that have 2 cords, but only one car at a time can be charging (either the CCS, or the CHAdeMO), but there are now some European types that can finally use both such cords at the same time, by sharing power, similar to Tesla Superchargers: http://www.evtech.ch and http://www.andcharge.com So, to pair these muliple ideas together, 1) install Superchargers so you can back in to them from either side of a divider, and 2) install new heads with dual cables instead of single cables, using a power relay to switch on the second cable when the 1st side is complete. 3) include a display on the Superchargers service heads that show current power being delivered to either cable, and estimated time to complete the charge. This could be done in conjunction with the current A/B arrangement, to simply give more connection points per Supercharger, and the display on the head is basically a light weight version of what each car displays on the in car display, so its data could be derived from each actually connected car, by a WiFi or Bluetooth push from… Read more »

Oops, I apologize to DJ for mixing up his post with Bill Howland’s impractical suggestion to redesign Supercharger stations to let cars “pull up” to the chargers.

Yeah I agree it is impractical for you. If there was absolutely no room for improvement, why are there constantly articles written about the issue?

I just wish for once you’d come up with an original idea that doesn’t:

1). Say those in the know about Physics agree with you, which they don’t.

2) Claim it violates the Second Law of Thermodynamics.

You must be paid $40 for each 10,000 clicks or something. Or else you just are totally Self-Reverential.

Poor Bill. Once again, he’s wearing his tinfoil hat too tightly, and it’s cutting off the supply of blood to his brain. 🙄

“I just wish for once you’d come up with an original idea that doesn’t… Claim it violates the Second Law of Thermodynamics.”

I assure you, Bill, at no time has any idea I’ve had ever taken it upon itself to claim it violates the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics. 😉

I repeat, you exist here to call others “FUD generators”, “Stock Shorters” or just to insult people, or piss on their plans without offering a well-thought-out plan, assuredly because for you, that is impossible.

You always talk about stuff you are without a clue about, such as Air Conditioning, Physics, Manufacturing ability, Heat Transfer, etc.

The only time you clam up is when I ask you a detailed question, putting the lie to your ‘self-reverential-expertise’.

Maybe a OTA update will release the charger when it gets at 100%. Then you can move the charger.

This varies substantially from place to place. When he’s on the West Coast he should visit the “Google” supercharger station at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California. It’s full any any reasonable hour. And it’s even one of the places that has an overnight problem at times, driving Tesla to their penalty fees.

Yes, I think the only reports I’ve seen about waiting lines at Superchargers have been at busy California locations. Not surprisingly, it’s in areas where there are more Teslas that there is more crowding, and even overcrowding.

The worst reports come from the busiest traveling holidays, which I presume are Thanksgiving and Christmas. So any comprehensive study of how crowded the network is, needs to gather data on those holidays.

I wonder if Tesla, since by now they have enough data on all the Superchargers, to know, and even forecast and anticipate, when and where they will be be in demand at over 100% capacity, to bring out a specially built ‘Supercharger Truck’, that uses pre-charged Powerpacks that can handle a 2 to 4 hour demand peak?

It could be anything from a 20 foot cube van, to a 53 foot Semi Trailer, with from 4 to 10 Supercharger Heads.

Charging off the ST (‘Supercharger Truck’), might be limited to a Max of 20 Minutes, but that should be enough to disperse lineups and get people on their way, or to the next Supercharger!

Dirty little secret: At a Gigafactory public event a year or two ago, Tesla made a portable Supercharger available to attendees; one which was diesel-powered. The reports I saw said the generator was hidden around a corner, since obviously making a Supercharger diesel powered sends the wrong message!

Anyway, my point is that Tesla doesn’t appear to have developed a Supercharger powered solely by batteries, so apparently that’s not a priority for them.

As they say, “The plural of anecdote is not data.”

How crowded are Superchargers? We can’t answer the question by riding around with one guy for a few days, and this does not qualify as a “study”.

What we would need to answer the question is a statistically significant number of data points taken over a period of at least a few weeks. For a network as widespread as the Superchargers, a real study of that type is beyond the scope of what just one or two people can accomplish on their own.

PP, pretty sure Tesla has the full network data, from all their stations, world wide, and for any site over 1 year since install, can likely do some level of forecasting as well.

For California, since there are a number of them over 2 and even over 3 years old, I bet forecasting could anticipate which days of which month will have over 100% demand, just by the number of stalls with very short intervals between a car leaving a stall and another arriving and plugging in, repeatedly!

If they added full area view CCTV Video cameras on site, and used Deep Learning Software from the Autonomous Vehicle program, they could likely get forecasting accuracy down to the Hour of Peak demand, within a year, and maybe even to an accuracy of 15 Minutes or better.

Between the above mentioned ideas of doubling the number of connection cords with new Supercharger Heads, and the ‘Supercharger Truck’ thoughts, I suspect they could be either – able to, or are already developing – a new ‘Busy Supercharger’ notification system, to advise drivers how much to charge, or charging alternatives, to get them moving sooner!

I remember hearing on the radio in BC, Canada, regarding the BC Ferries ‘wait times’, being announced in terms like: 1 sailing wait, or 2 sailing wait, due to peak weekend and Holiday demands, and that wad 30 years ago!

So, I would hope Tesla is thinking on software and data solutions, to communicate busy times and locations to drivers, when trip planning their navigation, as well as fixed and flexible access demand hardware solutions, that are the most cost effective, both for them and for owners, some of which Bill and I commented on, above, in this story.

Robert Weekley said:

“PP, pretty sure Tesla has the full network data, from all their stations, world wide…”

I have no doubt that Tesla has detailed data. But I doubt they’re going to make that public.

What has surprised me is that Tesla has not put an app in their cars to enable drivers to check on availability at any given Supercharger location, in real time. Surely that would cut down on the number of frustrated Tesla drivers, if they could look for an alternate charging location rather than show up at a Supercharger station and find it unexpectedly full.

No doubt there is a good reason Tesla hasn’t done that, but I confess I can’t figure out what it is.

Where are all the bolt ev owner blogs? Even the spark ev has a crazy dude blogging like crazy.

http://sparkev.blogspot.com

There are quite a few if you look at the Volt and Bolt EV forums.

Some examples:
Owner with a series of videos
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCJqgqWqKmdkIuBZa7JK5KSw

Owner that is in Maryland. The car was bought in California and is being trucked to Maryland:
https://bro05.blogspot.ca/2017/01/bolting-eastward.html

There are a few others I have seen.

The one concern that I have with the supercharger network is that it appears to have been built to connect dots on a map rather than based on supply and demand. Because of this some stations are lined up while others sit empty. While Tesla has taken some steps to try to address this in high demand area’s their push to deliver more cars seems to show them falling further behind on supercharger infrastructure.

It’s certainly true that the initial priority in building out the U.S./Canadian Supercharger network was to create travel corridors all across the continent. But since then, Tesla has been concentrating more on building more stalls per location, rather than building more locations.

But obviously, from various reports, the increase in certain areas hasn’t been sufficient to keep up with the increased traffic, or at least not in every case during a week’s busiest hours.

What I think we lack is a perspective on the problem. Is the problem of overcrowding something that occurs regularly every weekend for hours, or it is something that only occurs sporadically, with chaotic variation (which often occurs in real life) between periods of overcrowding and periods when the formerly busy stations are surprisingly empty?

When you do your trip on the west coast next test, go from LA to VANCOUVER, that way got get the actual experience and do it on a weekend, that is truly more representative of current conditions.

I would imagine when Tesla has upgraded it’s chargers to something close to 800-1000 Kw chargers soon this will alleviate some of the waiting times, especially when all those M3’s are produced, otherwise they will have quite a problem on their hands.

40 and 60 kW of additional electricity will get you 2 and 3 hours of driving, respectively, at around 70 mph.
120 kW charge rates will deliver that, sans taper, in 20 and 30 minutes, again, respectively.
240 kW charge rate will do those amounts in 10 and 15 minutes.
480 kW will do those amounts in 5 and 7.5 minutes.
If you have a BEV that is better than an ICE in every way except refuel rate, just how fast is fast enough?
I would be very happy at 100 kW charge rate, I think a LOT of people would agree. Once you satisfy 80%, you can tell the 20% to pound sand.

Or, instead of telling them to ‘Pound Sand’, just tell them, “That Route is overcrowded for the next 5 hours, would you like a different route that is not so busy, might be longer in miles, but should be faster?” – in a nice voice, from the Nav System!

Also, as mentioned above, switching to some sites with a modified Dual Cable Charging Head, and offer ‘Supercharger Trucks’ for peak charging times, even if such trucks had a user cost, of $5.00 to $10.00 for 10 to 20 minute charges, you (Tesla) would have solved 90% to 95% of the overcrowding challenges. Combined with a Vallet Service, that should get them to a 100% overcrowding solution for the least cost!

That is exactly why most autoindustry execs think battery cars is #1 industry trend and worth investment, and will be doing great, but only up to 2025 or so.

https://assets.kpmg.com/content/dam/kpmg/xx/pdf/2017/01/global-automotive-executive-survey-2017.pdf

Wouldn’t it be great to have the data. You could enter the name of a supercharger, and a website would give you a profile/chart of when it’s busiest. Think of how Google shows you the little chart of the busy times at restaurants/bars.

I think Google has more man hours in Data and software, and in feedback, than Tesla has! People are at computers usually more hours a day than they are Driving, let alone, at Superchargers! However, I suspect Tesla could, or should, have enough data for California Superchargers, by now, to know how to Forecast at least which days of the year, which sites will be more busy and at over 100% capacity, for at least part of the day, if not which 6 hour window in a given day! Current Autonomous Deep Learning Software could be applied to the Superchargers activity levels, to even get a 50% accuracy model of which hour will be the busiest, and even if they were off by 1 hour, it could still be beneficial! Combined with Navigation Planning, it could offer alternatives for other routes that are less busy, similar to how Google Maps shows multiple routes for some A to B trips! That said, it would be nice, if they offered a Sub Page on the Tesla Website, that showed the current level of use at Superchargers, along with the expectation of peak use for the next 6 hours! That, even if not… Read more »
Another idea could be a ‘Reservation Lite’ system, whereby Tesla could offer an off car or in car Navigation Planner, that you entered in your intended departure, destination, and start time, with Desired Route, at least 4 hours or more before trip start, and they could use that data to get a reasonably good model data set to forecast Supercharger Activity levels for the next 4-8 hours! They could then send you a text message, say 1 Hour before departure, to let you know if your selected route will likely be under or over 50% busy at any of the needed Superchargers on the preference route, and if you would like to select a new route, particularly if any sites will likely be over 75% in use. Tools like that, would be able to created in software only, pretty much before ANY hardware changes would be needed, and could go a long way to tweaking demand forecasting for any Supercharger! Taking this idea up a notch, a Priority Trip Planner App or Tool, could give stronger preference to users that make a plan with longer lead time, just like airlines give discounts for tickets bought longer before flight dates! For… Read more »
You don’t seem to be suggesting that the Supercharger station would actually hold a Supercharger hookup in reserve for someone, so I don’t understand how “booking” a trip in advance would help any at all, nor what difference it would make if the system “accepted” any given route or not. When a Tesla car arrives at a Supercharger station, either there will be a stall free, or there won’t be. It certainly would be possible to create an app which would predict your odds of finding a stall free at a given location, or several along your route, but whether you decide to take a trip a month in advance or it’s a spur-of-the-moment thing, shouldn’t affect your chances of finding a free stall when you get there. Now, I can see your point: That if enough people use the system, and if it “warns off” enough people from using a certain busy route, that might actually reduce congestion along that route, if enough people choose an alternate route. But in practice, which route you choose is merely going to be a matter of playing the odds. Since there are no reservations involved, the system in practice wouldn’t actively accept… Read more »

Hi Everyone,

Try the Zurich, Switzerland Supercharger on a normal weekday in the middle of the day. Yesterday on my way back from Germany, i stopped by. All 6 stalls full, three cars waiting, at 3pm….

I drove to ikea, 500M on and plugged into their 22KW most of which were empty (there are 8) which then allowed me to charge just enough to get home.

Zurich has 1 supercharger….. seriously Tesla…

And I defininitely can’t use it for long distance travel anymore…

The last 8 times I have pulled in, was not able to plug in. Waiting sometimes as long as 45 minutes.

Cheers, Billy

Billy, on a positive note, that is likely less than half of thse Tesla’s replaced Prius’, and most likely replaced cars that delivered under 30 Mpg fuel economy, so…it is a sign that a very busy supercharger is doing a lot to reduce pollutants from transportation!

Also, so glad your IKEA had 22 kW charging! The ones installed at Canadian IKEA stores, are about 6.6 kW, at most!

Also, only currently about a half dozen or so DC QC’s in the whole of Ontario, Canada, currently operational, that are not Tesla Superchargers! Three (at least) that were planned for 2016, got bumped to 2017, so, I feel your pain, even though I have about a year to wait yet to begin to experience it in my Model 3!

Oh, also, our IKEA stores, only have 2 of the 6.6 kW Sun Country Highway Charging Stations per store, in All of the Canadian IKEA stores! OK, some Might be on higher powrred cicuits, but even then, the peak would be 18 kW Max!

I was at the Burlington, Ontario opening of the IKEA store there, and there the docking stations (TWO) are 10 kw each, nominally (48 amps @ 208 volts)

Hi Robert,

Totally agree, it’s a good sign!

What I would really love to see, it how full the SC is as i approach it, so that I can decide to drive slower and charge elsewhere, or just make it home and charge there.

Unfortunately, Tesla decided to place the Zurich SC smack bang in the middle of Zurich’s heaviest density shopping area away from the highway, with some of the biggest traffic jams daily.

From the exit ramp to the SC is perhaps a good 1km, which often takes 10-15 mins, gridlock traffic and dozens of traffic lights.

The 0.40chf/minute penalty is a good idea, but most of the time you can see people flip the charge limit to 100% and go shopping. All the cars there are typically left empty, owners returning with shopping bags…

Tesla urgently needs another location around Zurich away from a shopping area, close to a highway.

Cheers, Billy

Too long, didn’t watch the whole thing…
He should have dropped by, I live about a 1½ miles from 95 in PA.

A couple weeks ago I was at the Delaware rest stop, and saw an S and an X at the same time. But this was about 8:00pm so there’s that.

Chargers in shopping malls, sports venues, condo complexes, parking lots, street corners….You get my drift, we need chargers everywhere!

I like this guy a lot…although his study is pretty iffy due to times and days he hit each Supercharger spot. A better approach would be to recruit Tesla owner-ambassadors from all parts of the nation to report to a Facebook page with photo evidence what congestion and when they experienced it. In short order their data would form a good picture of how bad or good the situation is as it exists today. Coupled with the timing and pace of Model 3 uptake, we’do know if Supercharger buildout is in over it’seems head or not.

Sorry for the typos. I was editing on my cell on the fly with a low battery alert about to shut down my ph

PS – did ya see what I did there?

Now my battery is really dead.