Tesla’s Supercharger network is the key to enabling long-distance travel in your Tesla without needing to worry (too much) about recharging while you’re on a road trip or intercity journey.
We’ve previously covered the Tesla Destination Charger network – and the Supercharger network is one of Tesla’s key strengths.
There are 13 Supercharging stations currently in operation in Australia, all on the east coast. That’s nothing compared to the Destination Charger network, but the two have different purposes.
What is the Tesla Supercharger Network for?
While the Destination Charger network is for when you arrive at your destination, the Supercharger network enables long distance travel.
If we zoom in a bit you can easily tell that the ones that are already built (in red) are evenly spaced all up the main Hume Hwy. Roughly 150-200 km’s apart, they allow you to drive all the way from Ballarat in Victoria to Fortitude Valley in Brisbane.
At each of those red marker locations there are anywhere from two to eight Superchargers usually available 24/7. Shops or service centres are close by as well so that you can grab a bite to eat or go to the toilet, and with likely charge times at a Supercharger ranging from 20 to 60 minutes, depending on your car and next destination, having somewhere to recharge yourself as well as your Tesla is important.
The grey markers are the Supercharger locations that will be opening over the next year or so into 2018. As they’ve already covered the main path up the Hume Hwy Tesla now seem to be filling out the various other routes. These include going to Canberra and other major town areas.
The SuperCharger network is going to the primary way which Tesla owners would look to charge on a long-distance journey, however there also plenty of other charge options which can be combined with Tesla’s own network, such as the growing network of fast chargers in Queensland.
How fast do Tesla’s Supercharger’s charge your Tesla?
Superchargers are a bit different than the normal EV chargers out there. For one thing they can only be used by Tesla’s cars. They’re also currently the fastest in the world enabling you to charge to around 80% of a Model S/X in just 30 minutes.
This extremely fast charging rate means that you can be on your way again relatively quickly. Although most people might want to charge all the way up to 100%, Tesla recommend only going up to 80% – as long as you can reach your next charging destination from there. For one it’s faster, to do this, but also doesn’t impact the long-term battery life as much as a full charge.
Once your charging has finished your Tesla App will notify you and you can get back on the road. While 30 minutes is a bit longer than the typical 10 minutes it takes to fill up with petrol, stand in line and pay, most people on long trips don’t mind the brief rest.
You can stretch your legs, have some coffee, go to the toilet, eat something or just chat to other Tesla owners. As an example of how a typical VIC -> NSW trip might look in a current Model S 75 you can use the excellent website evtripplanner.com. This tells us you would need to stop three times between the Melbourne Museum and Bondi Beach.
Each time you’d only be charging for around 25 minutes. Having driven between the two states many times I know three 25 minute stops is about normal. You can do it without any stops in some highly efficient and large tank petrol cars but it’s not too fun.
How much do they cost?
Depending on how and when you bought your Tesla, Supercharges can be either completely free for life or cost some money after your yearly 400 kWh allotment is taken up.
Each year, owners receive 400 kWh of free Supercharger credit, enough to drive about 1600 km. These credits cover the long distance driving needs of most owners, so road trips are completely free. Customers who travel beyond the annual credit pay a small fee to Supercharge—only a fraction of the cost of gas. – Tesla
Earlier Teslas had and still have access to free lifetime use of Superchargers which is a fantastic bonus. If you buy a new Tesla now using a referral code you can still get free unlimited Supercharging but it’s unknown how long this will last – for now this is in place only until the end of 2017, and only for the original owner of the car.
Regardless, even if you only get the yearly 400 kWh allotment that’s still effectively a free trip from Melbourne to Sydney and back each year. For most owners this will likely do. Beyond that distance you do have to pay for the electricity at a rate of $0.35 per kWh.
Assuming you charged to 100% before that VIC -> NSW trip that’d mean a total trip cost of around $30, or about 85 kWh’s of power.
How do Superchargers work?
Charging your Tesla with a Supercharger is even simpler than other connectors. Simply park in a spot near one, take the plug out of the stall and press the button on top of it. Your charging port on the car will pop open and you can plug the cable in.
From here the LED ring around the charging port should light up green indicating your car is charging. Inside the car (or on the Tesla app) you can monitor the charging rate, battery percentage and other details. Charging at up to 120 kW, they can deliver up to 400 km’s per hour.
That’s it! Once you’re done charging just put the plug/cable back in the stall and off you go. If the Supercharger does need to charge you any fee, the Tesla app will have your credit card details on record.
What about the new, smaller urban area Superchargers?
On September 11th Tesla also announced a new, slightly smaller version of their Supercharger. While they haven’t given them a different name, they did specify that they intend to install them in “urban areas”.
Tesla is installing Superchargers in urban areas where city dwellers and out of town visitors can easily charge. These stations are placed at convenient locations like grocery stores, downtown districts, and shopping centers so charging fits seamlessly into your life.
These smaller Superchargers only supply 72 kW of power vs the bigger (original) models which can offer over 120 kW. This means that charge times are a bit longer and take around 45-50 minutes for a 80%+ charge.
This shouldn’t be a huge issue though, as they’re meant to be deployed at places like Coles, Woolworths or major shopping centres. The idea is that if you’re a Tesla owner that doesn’t have access to home charging, you can use these once a week or so while you do your normal shopping.
Many Australians don’t have access to home charging for one reason or another. Some simply live in the city and have no home parking. Others have parking but can’t add a power point to it if they’re renting. With these new smaller Superchargers it closes yet another major issue with the full deployment of EVs and the Tesla Model 3 coming next year.
Looking to the future
Tesla is aiming to open another 9 Supercharger locations in Australia by the end of this year. By that point Adelaide and Melbourne will finally be connected up too. There will be at least one Supercharger in Perth, WA.
Looking even further into the future they plan on having another 14 added on top of those 9 by the end of 2018. You’ll also be able to use the network to visit their soon to be installed 100 MW/129 MWh Powerpack system in South Australia. This Supercharger that should be installed again by the end of this year is located at Clare Valley.
Our new Supercharger route in South Australia will soon allow Tesla owners to visit the world's largest battery site https://t.co/3yBcyunVU2
— Tesla (@Tesla) September 7, 2017
The overall expansion in Australia is part of Tesla’s efforts to expand the entire network world wide by the end of 2017. The goal is to have over 10,000 Superchargers and is to help handle the huge increase of cars due to the Model 3 release.
By 2018 they plan on having an even bigger total of 18,000 Superchargers in the network. So it doesn’t look like they’re slowing down anytime soon! Given they’re now asking people to pay for their use of them it’s obviously allowing them to expand at a greater rate.
So has your area been covered already with Superchargers? Have an idea for where you really need one? Let us know in the comments below!