There’s nothing like a bit of friendly competition between rival companies for encouraging technological advancement.
Especially when it involves Tesla CEO Elon Musk and some form of electric vehicle technology.
Just under a month ago, Daimler, Ford, Volkswagen and BMW announced that they had joined forces to push a new super-fast electric car charging standard to market, funding a new cross-Europe charging network that will include 400+ next-generation charging stations by 2020.
Essentially a super-fast, more powerful version of the SEA-developed CCS standard already favored by the majority of European and U.S. automakers, the new charging standard can operate at power levels of up to 350 kilowatts to charge a 90 kilowatt-hour battery from empty to 80 percent full in as little as fifteen minutes, far faster than the maximum 145 kilowatts offered by Tesla’s Supercharger network.
At the time it was announced, we speculated that it would be reasonably easy and logical for Tesla to follow suit and upgrade its own Supercharger standard, since it owns and operates its entire Supercharger network and has gradually upgraded Supercharger capabilities since the network’s launch in 2012.
True to our predictions, Tesla CEO Elon Musk took to twitter over the Holiday weekend to confirm that Tesla has indeed been working on evolving its Supercharger network, complete with photovoltaic solar panels, battery storage and super-fast 350 kW charging speeds.
The exchange happened on Christmas eve, when Electrek’s Fred Lambert asked Musk via Twitter if there was any update on Tesla’s plans to install photovoltaic solar arrays at Tesla Supercharger sites around the world. A goal Musk has held from day one of the Supercharger network, only a handful of Supercharger sites around the world currently have on-site photovoltaic solar panel arrays. But that’s about to change, Musk suggested, thanks to the recent merger between Tesla and SolarCity.
@FredericLambert There are some installed already, but full rollout really needs Supercharger V3 and Powerpack V2, plus SolarCity. Pieces now in place.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) December 24, 2016
Supercharger V3, Musk explained in a subsequent tweet, would be capable of transferring at least 350 kilowatts of power and, when paired with Tesla photovoltaic panels and Tesla PowerBanks, would mean that Tesla’s Superchargers could operate completely off-grid. This means that even if there was a local power outage, Tesla could still provide customers with power and charging, no matter what — not to mention making it possible to install Supercharger sites at more remote locations where it’s currently impractical to install a Supercharger.
There’s another bonus too: if future Supercharger sites offer completely off-grid, Tesla will no-longer have to choose sites for Superchargers based on the available power on site (or the practicalities of bringing high-power grid electricity to the site). And that, we’d guess, should help lower the costs associated with Tesla Supercharger installation.
When will Tesla roll out a Tesla Supercharger upgrade? That’s a hard one to tie down right now, but Musk certainly seemed to imply in his brief Twitter exchange that it was something we’d see in the near future. If we had to guess, we’ll see Tesla push the first high-powered Superchargers by the end of 2017, with the most popular sites getting priority over less popular ones.
As to existing cars? Without significant upgrades, we’re guessing these vehicles will be stuck charging at a slower speed, although it’s possible that Tesla is already rolling out such an upgrade on the vehicle end without telling anyone. After all, Tesla has done something similar in the past with autopilot hardware.
When do you think we can look forward to faster Tesla charging? And will Tesla be able to bring ultra-fast Supercharging (Hypercharging, anyone?) to market before the competition’s 350-kW CCS?
Leave your thoughts in the Comments below.
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