Tesla Bucks Trend in UK With Urban-Based Supercharger Stations

On Tuesday this week, Tesla Motors officially opened two new Supercharging locations in the UK, bringing the total number of Supercharging sites in the Island nation to three.

Birmingham, England is now home to the UK's third Tesla Supercharger, the first outside of London.

Birmingham, England is now home to the UK’s third Tesla Supercharger, the first outside of London.

Capable of recharging a Tesla Model S car from empty to full in just over 75 minutes, or adding 170 miles of range in just half an hour, the Tesla Superchargers are the must-visit charging stop for any Model S owner, making it possible to easily travel from London to the Scottish Borders with just one quick recharging stop.

While the 120 kilowatt Supercharger output and free-to-use policy of UK charging stations are the same as any other Tesla Supercharger location anywhere else in the world however, there’s one very big, very important difference.

Instead of siting Superchargers at rest stops and beside major freeways, Tesla is focusing on city-centre locations for its UK Superchargers.

In fact, of the three Superchargers currently online in the UK, all are located in busy city centres. One is is located at The Crystal Sustainable Cities Initiative in London’s Docklands area, with the other twolocated at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in London’s West End and at the Hyatt Regency, Birmingham respectively.

The decision to install at city centre locations, said Tesla’s UK Country Director Georg Ell, was partly driven by the number of longer-distance Model S owners who travel for business in the UK.

Michael Grey from Hyatt Regency (right) and Georg Ell from Tesla plug in a Model S at the new Birmingham Supercharger

Michael Grey from Hyatt Regency (right) and Georg Ell from Tesla plug in a Model S at the new Birmingham Supercharger

With the UK being so small, a Tesla Model S fitted with an 85 kWh battery pack can easily travel between most major British cities on a single charge. Unlike other countries, where Superchargers are needed to make inter-city travel possible, there’s no need for those travelling between cities to stop mid-route.

Making Superchargers available at inner city locations meanwhile allows Model S owners to drive to a visit a client in another city, leaving their car charging outside while they conduct a business meeting.

What’s more, said Ell, the City-based Superchargers mean owners who live in busy city centres but lack any parking or charging facilities at home can come and top up at a Supercharger whenever they need a charge.

It’s a logical step for Tesla, but it does mean anyone travelling far beyond the range of their car — an unlikely but at least plausible possibility if the owner happens to live in Devon or Cornwall and needs to travel to London or beyond, for example — will be forced to detour from the UK’s motorway network into a busy city centre in order to make use of a Supercharger.

Michael Grey from Hyatt Regency took great pleasure in recounting the experience of driving a Model S for the first time

Michael Grey from Hyatt Regency took great pleasure in recounting the experience of driving a Model S for the first time

It’s a policy also being adopted in China, says Tesla, where city-centre Superchargers will be built at least initially in preference to out-of-town, rest-stop style locations.

Another difference worth noting between Supercharger installations in the UK and elsewhere is the world is the legal complications which come from limited land availability.

Unlike the U.S., where many Supercharger sites are leased to Tesla by the land owner, the two Supercharger sites which opened this week required specially-written contracts since the land on which the Hotels are built is rented — rather than owned — by the hotel chains.

Instead of granting Tesla a lease agreement which would constitute a form of sub-let, lawyers had to carefully word contracts to ensure that Tesla was granted permission to use and maintain the Supercharger site without falling foul of any sublet clauses in the original land lease agreements for the hotel.

Naturally, this will change from place to place — but even with legal complications Tesla is still managing to install supercharger sites at breakneck speed.

And for Model S owners, that is very good news indeed.

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  • vdiv

    Let’s hope that the supercharger spots are patrolled to assure that they aren’t MICED (maliciously ICED) or that the Model S drivers do not leave their cars beyond the time needed to charge them. These scenarios are far more likely in the city centre than in a prairie out there.

    • Hopefully the spots will be labeled as “Charging” stalls, not as “Parking” stalls for charging. nnA minor change in semantics that would help ease confusion over ‘parking’ access for those not familiar with EVs.

    • Michael Thwaite

      Yep, this could accidentally create a huge park-&-leave problem. Additionally, to do it right, how annoying that your only option for a remote city meeting involves arriving empty at the destination, plugging in, going to your meeting, stepping out of your meeting after 30 mins and then returning.nnnThe inter-city solution in the US appears to be working superbly & the UK has a superb network of rest-stops on highways, I thought it a slam-dunk.

      • vdiv

        Look like they called Hyatt and made them an offer they couldn’t refuse. If not deployed on the roads Tesla could sell a few CHAdeMO adapters in the UK. Wonder if they will make CCS adapters (type 1 and 2) as well at some point.

  • Very nice writeup explaining the needs and reasons for DC fast charging in heart of metro regions.nnBesides London and Birmingham (under construction) Superchargers are located in other major metro centers: Beijing, Hangzhou, Hong Kong, Longhuazhen, and Shanghai.nnLooking at Japan, there are two types of DC fast charger deployments: around metro centers for accessable charging, and along major routes (at reststop locations) to provide range-extending capabilities. More of the inter-regional reststop locations are getting multiple DC chargers (CHAdeMO) ensuring better redundancy and operational reliability similar to that provided by supercharger locations.n

  • purrdey

    I don’t know who at Tesla thought that siting UK SCs in urban centres was a good idea, but they clearly have lost the plot. When it says “making it possible to easily travel from London to the Scottish Borders with just one quick recharging stop” the very idea of leaving the M6 at Spaghetti Junction, flogging into Birmingham City Centre and finding your way to the Hyatt, in the most congested part of the city, is insane. What would possess anyone to regard this as a superior solution to, for example, siting a supercharger at either M6 J7 or M42 J4? – preferably both. If you were driving from London to Edinburgh the LAST thing you want to do is deviate far from your ideal track (either M1/M6 or M1/A1) into some congested urban sprawl.nnChrist Tesla, check out your SCs in France and get with the programme!

  • EV docmaker

    This article is way too UK insular. TESLA now has 50 Superchargers in Europe enabling free and fast power up from Denmark to the South of France.

    • Matt Beard

      I’m confused – it is an article specifically about the UK Tesla Supercharger locations.

  • Ekechukwu Mbaachu

    I think Tesla are missing a trick, whilst their city center supercharger strategy makes sense for owners of it’s Model S P85 and P85+ cars it doesn’t make sense for owners of it’s 60 kwh battery pack equipped Model S car. Tesla should have sought to pursue a strategy of partnering with car parking companies like NCP in city centers and Waitrose’s car parks to satisfy those of its customers even if they did not live within the catchment area of a Waitrose store are all too likely to shop there.

  • D. Harrower

    The rapid Supercharger deployment in the UK (and other European countries) , despite legal hurdles, make the snail’s pace of deployment in Canada all the more frustrating.