By on September 11, 2017

tesla model 3

Until now, Tesla’s growing network of Supercharger stations was generally aimed at the long-distance crowd. If a (very) premium-priced sedan can’t make the five-hour trip to your sister’s house for Thanksgiving, well, second thoughts might crop up about that purchase.

To accomplish the goal of Tesla proliferation, much of the automaker’s fast-charge network sprouted up in locales convenient for travellers. Places like Holiday Inn Express parking lots, restaurants, visitor centers, and Macadoodles Fine Wine & Spirits in Springfield, Missouri. In the Midwest, hungry travellers can hop off the Interstate and charge up at Meijer while shopping for juice boxes and potato wedges.

However, logic (and infrastructure) states that the majority of Tesla buyers, current and future, live in large cities and don’t leave town all that often. They’re also more likely live in condos with garages free of any plug-in points. Tesla’s latest round of Supercharger construction takes this into account, dropping the fast-charge stations directly where those urbanites inevitably show up once a week.

Starting in Chicago and Boston, the newest urban Superchargers will crop up in grocery store parking lots. A no-brainer, sure, but it’s a move that’s secondary to the company’s initial goal of cross-country Tesla viability.

The chargers located at downtown supermarkets will be supplemented by others at shopping centers and other high-traffic, centrally located destinations. As for cost, the same variable rates apply. With hundreds of thousands of reserved Model 3s waiting to be built, Tesla can’t afford to give new owners the same free ride they once enjoyed. It also can’t afford to not have the infrastructure in place to serve those vehicles.

From Tesla’s blog:

Superchargers in urban areas have a new post design that occupies less space and is easier to install, making them ideal for dense, highly populated areas. To increase efficiency and support a high volume of cars, these Superchargers have a new architecture that delivers a rapid 72 kilowatts of dedicated power to each car. This means charging speeds are unaffected by Tesla vehicles plugging into adjacent Superchargers, and results in consistent charging times around 45 to 50 minutes for most drivers.

The roll-out of new urban stations includes eight stalls in Boston and 10 in Chicago, both of which opened to drivers today.

[Image: Tesla]

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34 Comments on “Tesla Discovers an Obvious Place for Urban Owners to Fuel Up...”


  • avatar
    Lemmiwinks

    They’ve got a “station” with about 9 stalls and a valet in my local grocery store parking lot. It’s also where my gym is.

    Going to either has become pretty ridiculous, as traversing the parking lot can now take more than ten minutes; longer than it takes to drive to the shopping center.

    I do live in San Mateo, CA, so there are a LOT of Teslas around here. I actually like the cars, and don’t begrudge them for wanting/having a convenient place to charge up. The sheer volume that now uses the stalls has made it not very convenient, though. And it’s now having an impact on the already-abysmal traffic situation in the immediate area.

  • avatar
    ash78

    There’s a weird chicken & egg thing here…I know people want to be early adopters, but IMHO I wouldn’t even consider an EV (especially at this price) unless I had a garage with ready infrastructure. On the flipside, how Tesla missed an opportunity with high-end urban condos is also a mystery to me. Seems like that would have taken precedence over a cross-country infrastructure, but I’m just a guy sitting here typing on a $10 computer keyboard and not building rockets or designing giant bank teller canisters full of people.

    • 0 avatar
      rudiger

      Because of what will surely be a longer time to refuel an EV than an ICE-powered vehicle, even by a few minutes, I read a very good suggestion (probably here) that widespread EV usage would require a dramatic change in how drivers ‘refuel’ their vehicles. Simply put, there would not be free-standing EV charge stations that are not within walking distance of a place drivers can go, for whatever reason, and even for a few minutes. Given the difference in how much easier it is to install an EV recharge station than a gas station (which requires large, underground, holding tanks), this doesn’t sound inconceivable. The idea being that, eventually, EV owners wouldn’t require a home recharging station, the same as no ICE powered vehicle doesn’t require a home fueling station.

      Taking this EV recharge change in infrastructure into account, well, I just can’t see how EV usage will not grow to the point of, someday, being as mainstream as refueling with petroleum products. It will just be a little different.

      • 0 avatar
        ash78

        Agreed, it’s going to be a complete shift in our thinking. Eventually (if EVs are to be fully accepted) it’s going to be more like “minicharges” as you go about your day. This would also have the side benefit of keeping the battery at a modest level of charge and avoiding the deep cycling that tends to kill batteries faster.

        With any “disruptive” technology, I always try to imagine mass acceptance, then envision how people would see the current technology. If EVs were 98% of the market, gasoline would still seem like a miracle invention. So we’re not there yet.

        • 0 avatar
          rudiger

          Indeed, imagine how differently things might have been if there had been a widespread, reliable electrical grid and infrastructure prior to Henry Ford developing the Model T.

  • avatar
    Rasputin

    I have no complaint with lots of handicap spaces right up front to the store. But being handicapped is not of their choosing (usually).
    No complaint also with chargers – as long as they are way off to the side or back of the parking lots. Well to do people receiving tax subsidies can do their virtue signalling by walking a couple hundred feet to the entrance. Leave the spaces next to the handicap slots to us peons.

  • avatar
    Corollaman

    Shopping centers, movie theaters all places where people spend at least 2hrs or more there.

    • 0 avatar
      stuki

      During high demand times, you can’t have some dude hog a charger for hours on end while others are waiting. Perhaps “self driving” can get the laggard out of the way after his 20 minute allotment is up, but until then…..

  • avatar
    Master Baiter

    Why not have a button on the giant iPad, which, when pressed, dispatches a self-driving car carrying a diesel generator to your parking spot.
    .
    .

    • 0 avatar
      conundrum

      Good idea, and a way around what happens when your average lot snow plow operator plows in the existing charging station after an overnight 12 inch dump.

      Everyone and his dawg are touting their electrickery credentials. Soon there’ll be more EV models than customers, all partially autonomous, and all needing a rich diet of killerwatts and a quick dust off on the old sensor array. Time for onboard composting potties as well, methinks.

      • 0 avatar
        mcs

        @conundrum; I would have thought the snow plows would destroy them too, but the on-street stations in Boston seem to be fine.

        400kW charging is now getting deployed and cars capable of using it are on the way. BP and Shell are planning on offering EV charging. By the mid-2020’s you’ll probably be able to charge in less than 15 minutes at a gas station.

  • avatar
    thelaine

    Gas stations are good because they are everywhere and you can pull in, fill up in 3 minutes and leave.

    • 0 avatar
      mcs

      “fill up in 3 minutes and leave.”

      unless the guy in the car occupying a pump you’re waiting for decides to get in line to buy a bunch of scratch tickets and decides to see if he has any winners before he leaves the store. Or the guy that thinks he’s a quart low on oil, goes in, buys it, puts it in, then discovers he needs more and goes back to the store for another quart. Or the mom with the three kids that can’t decide what they want for snacks from the store. I know, just back up and go to a different island, but by then you have a line of cars behind you and you can’t move. Oh, people are courteous and pull away from the pump and then go into the store – yeah right.

      I really, really like fueling at home.

      • 0 avatar
        markf

        Cause that happens a lot. So instead of 3 mins it takes 6,still faster than 2+ hours…..

        • 0 avatar
          mcs

          @markf: So instead of 3 mins it takes 6,still faster than 2+ hours…..

          How is it faster? First of all, a gas station is going to take longer than 3 minutes. Then chances are if you’re in your car, you’re going somewhere. When you get to that somewhere, you are going to get out of your car and do something. With an EV, you skip the gas station, plug in at the place you’re going, then the car charges while you do the something. Therefore, fueling time in an EV takes less time out of your life than fueling at a gas station. Usually, you don’t even need to charge at the destination since the car has more than enough power from its overnight charge.

          Also, quick charges usually take me 20 to 30 minutes, not 2+ hours. The at home “overnight” charge takes about 2+ hours, but you never notice. I have a 14.4 kW home charger and when I get a car that can handle it, my charge times will be much less.

          • 0 avatar
            thelaine

            20 to 30 minutes is forever

          • 0 avatar
            KixStart

            mcs: “How is it faster? First of all, a gas station is going to take longer than 3 minutes.”

            Is there a problem with your filler tube?

            I take more than 3 minutes if I go inside and buy something. it’s rare that all the pumps are busy. Anyone who wants to be in and out in 3 minutes likely will be.

            The only time I have ever run into significant waits was on the way out to Sturgis (my destination was on the other side of it). Motorcycles have relatively limited range and must stop frequently to refuel (does this sound familiar?). The stations on the way towards Sturgis were jammed.

  • avatar
    bullnuke

    Will these chargers have bill-changers/card swipers that will handle giving change/credit receipts when using a Ben Franklin or a Visa to pay the charging fee for an EV? I mean, these won’t be free will they? The generation of the electricity, the line losses during transmission of it, and the maintenance of the distribution system upstream of the charger isn’t free. Or will these chargers use magically produced green electrical power, similar to the way supermarkets make meat in the back room of the store without harming animals, that will not cost anything at the charger connector…

    • 0 avatar
      Lemmiwinks

      The chargers in Tesla’s network are able to identify the refueling car when they’re plugged in. The customer is then billed accordingly.

      https://www.tesla.com/support/supercharging

  • avatar
    brandloyalty

    I attended an anti-pipeline rally the other day. About the same time as I learned about the rally, I got a notice of some sort of electric car event on the same day. Though the times meshed well for the two events, they were in different places. So I drove my hybrid to the ev event, planning to take transit from there to the rally.

    Turned out it was just a regular meeting of the local Electric Vehicle Association. But they were very nice people and engaged in interesting conversation. During the meeting people were talking about leaving for an event downtown. I asked if they were going to the rally. Indeed they were. Who would have imagined that connection? But of course.

    So I ended up getting a ride to and back from the rally in an awd Tesla S. Very nice. My first time in one. At a charging station next to the rally the owner met someone from the local Green Party who is also with the Tesla Owners’ Club. He joined us for the ride back to where I’d left my car.

    On the way back the driver put the Tesla in fully autonomous mode. Which in city traffic is both utterly amazing and a bit disconcerting. The Green Party person happened to be giving away a Green Party umbrella, which I ended up getting. So this was politically correct VIP treatment, being chauffeured to an anti-pipeline event in an electric car charged with renewable hydro power. And getting swag to boot.

    • 0 avatar
      rpn453

      The pipeline companies could give away children’s books at the events: “Where does the $100,000 worth of energy and resources used to manufacture my Tesla come from?”

      • 0 avatar
        brandloyalty

        Probably they don’t because they have more respect for ev owners than you do, because it’s all too easy to point out the manufacture and support of ice cars use more energy than Teslas, and because it just makes it clear that ev’s use no gas directly during their lifespan. Good to hear you’re an expert on coloring books.

        • 0 avatar
          KixStart

          The amount of energy necessary to build a vehicle is roughly proportional to its mass. A Tesla probably requires more energy than a Corolla but less than an F-150 Quad Cab Office Worker Edition.

          • 0 avatar
            rpn453

            You figure that the production, development, and material in a 1200 lb Li-ion battery requires the same total energy input as 1200 lb worth of steel frame? Does a pound of material require the same energy to extract, refine, and finish, regardless of the type of material?

            You’re missing some energy inputs somewhere in the process of creating the Tesla. If it costs $40,000 to produce a $40,000 truck, and $40,000 to produce a $100,000 Tesla, where do you think the other $60,000 is going?

        • 0 avatar
          rpn453

          Most cars are never going to use $100,000 worth of energy in their lifetime. But if it makes you feel better about your unsustainable western lifestyle, feel free to believe that converting all those resources into a luxury item that doesn’t directly use fossil fuels is different.

          • 0 avatar
            brandloyalty

            Your question has validity, now we need the numbers instead of arguing on the basis of speculation. The numbers might include:

            How much energy does it take to make a pound of lithium carbonate? Compared to a pound of steel?

            How much energy does it take to make a pound of semiconductors (a lot) and does a Tesla have any more than an F350?

            How do you factor in the fuel for both vehicles?

            How do you factor in recycling of steel and lithium?

            Given that lithium is available from brine and as electricity becomes increasingly available from renewable sources, it’s hard to see the whole ev thing as a mistake.

            Btw, most electric vehicles are not luxury cars. Consider electric bicycles, fork lifts, golf carts, utility vehicles, trains. There are small electric cars in Europe that we never hear about. Expansion of available ev models definitely weighs on the non-luxury side. So depicting ev’s as luxury toys for the rich is misinformation.

          • 0 avatar
            brandloyalty

            And here’s a better angle on it. Maybe it’s not so important how much money it takes to build a Tesla compared to an F350. Maybe what matters is the cradle-to-grave environmental footprint relative to the utility of the thing.

            Maybe the extra cost of the Tesla is in intellectual capital, not materials. Maybe building a Tesla requires more brainwork by smarter people than building an F350. Maybe building a Tesla creates more and better jobs than building an F350. Maybe the powerful nations of the future will not be the ones focussed on needing only a few people to put together crude inefficient and dirty monstrosities.

  • avatar
    chuckrs

    I thought the urban locations would be Whole Foods and Starbucks where the EV owners would be assured of non-GMO, artisanally sourced and curated green kilowatt hours of energy. No rolling coal for us; we’re not that sort of people.

  • avatar
    Dilrod

    Does anyone know what these commercial charging stations cost to install? I’m thinking a station in an office building like the one I work in would be used, probably constantly as more EVs hit the road.

    Just curious.

  • avatar
    RHD

    Lemmiwinks had the right idea – a row of charging stations next to a gym would be perfect – an hour of charging 4 or 5 times a week will keep your “tank” full.
    Putting one charger on a small island where 4 parking spaces meet would allow the electric car to choose any parking space, and the other 3 spaces could go to gas-powered vehicles.
    Cover the gym (or grocery store, or restaurant, or office building) with solar panels, and it’s all good. (Solar panels shade the roof, too, and reduce costs for air conditioning.)
    Businesses that get on the cutting edge of implementation will attract more affluent customers, and promote their loyalty as they develop long-term charging habits.

    • 0 avatar
      Lorenzo

      That wouldn’t work for me – I named my toilet “gym”, and tell people I go to the gym every morning. I’ve been given a couple 3-month trial gym memberships, but went only once. In a corner they had a coffee urn with cups, creamer, and sugar, and boxes of donuts. Heck, I’ve got that at home, and I don’t need the treadmill, because I’m forever going into a room and forgetting why, and retracing my steps.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    I live in the land of Teslas. Any AMZN, GOOG, or MSFT employee who hit a nice vest in the last few years (remember boys and girls, MSFT stock has gone 2X since Ballmer left) is driving around in an S or an X around here. Nothing says I’m a tech employee who burned some shares like driving a Tesla.

    Nearest grocery store to my house is a Kroeger sub-brand flagship store located less than 1/2 a mile from a freeway interchange and has a line of electric car charging stations (not Tesla superchargers).

    The spots are ALWAYS full. Always. Of non-electric cars with drivers who are:

    a) Using the ATM machine by the electric car charging station

    b) Douche-nozzles who don’t want to walk to the entrance of the store

    c) Occasionally a handicapped driver who parked there because the handicapped spots on either side of the electric car charging station are full (one likely by some douche nozzle using the ATM machine)

  • avatar
    brandloyalty

    Interesting that TTAC has no article about what Tesla did for owners evacuating Florida.

    Some Model S’ have the battery capacity limited by software. So they cost less. Whether this makes sense is another matter. Tesla fanned out a temporary software change allowing those owners to use the full capacity until mid-month.

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