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0.005% likelihood of a surprise SuperCharger outage

Discussion in 'North America' started by Missile Toad, Feb 1, 2017.

  1. Missile Toad

    Missile Toad Member

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    During January, I made daily observations using the dashboard Nav showing the U.S. contiguous states. These sites went down for the first time, during the month:
    Moosic, PA
    Gila Bend, AZ
    Birmingham, AL
    Milford, CT SB​
    Supposedly, Tesla will not report any outages if they are beyond a 24 hour navigable drive to the affected locations. So I'm limiting myself to an arc of the U.S. that covers some 50% of the contiguous land mass centered on Houston. In that space are approximately 181 supercharger sites (from what SuperCharge.info tells me). Now my method, was to look for any Nav-reported sites that have the distinctive 'banned' icon (circle with bar) -- and these are symbolically attached to sites that are either temporarily closed or operating on 'reduced service'. I did this only once daily, usually around 8AM central time, so it is entirely possible I missed transient outages, perhaps caused by a local blackout.

    I assume, that for a surprise outage to occur, while 'en route', the outage would manifest on the Nav screen during a 2 hours period after a hypothetical car commits to a drive to that SuperCharger site. So the above, 4 sites, had a 'surprise' window of a combined 8 hours. There were 744 hours in January, and about 177 sites that did not 'surprise'. Multiplying 744 x 177 = 131,688 unsurprising site hours. This leaves 8/131,688 or 0.006% chance that a SuperCharger manifest itself as temporary-closure/reduced-service. For this exercise, I assume that all supercharger sites are equally likely to be destinations/way-points.

    Please comment if my figures are reasonably in the ball-park for outages (excluding hurricanes, earthquakes, volcanos, meteor strikes and X-class solar flares). Given the small dataset, a wild negative variation might (possibly) be double the hazard... so maybe 0.012% risk, assuming I happened to catch Tesla on a good month?
     
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  2. brianman

    brianman Burrito Founder

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    How are you obtaining the data?
     
  3. Missile Toad

    Missile Toad Member

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    brianman, I'm turning on the charger symbols on the dashboard Nav, every day, to reveal the locations of all 360+ of them. Naturally, I'm zooming out of the local map, to show the main body of the U.S., while not zooming out so far that the display becomes a sea of red -- red being the chief color of the SuperCharger symbols.
     
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  4. brianman

    brianman Burrito Founder

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    Ah, manually. I had hoped you might have figured out how the car is fetching (or being pushed) the data and query that directly.

    Thanks for the info.
     
  5. cpa

    cpa Active Member

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    Statistics and mathematical analysis ain't my bag, but I thought that I would throw this out there:

    The Monday after Thanksgiving last I stopped at the Cabazon Supercharger around dusk. The entire Supercharger area was dark, and the lights in the standard were not lit. I plugged in--no juice. I switched stalls--no juice. I left. I was lucky to be able to drive 50MPH to my destination and plug in at a 30A charger.

    My phone was messed up for some reason, and I could not call Tesla immediately. I reached my destination about 45 minutes later and phoned Tesla. The representative reported no issues. The representative also indicated that no one was charging at Cabazon when I phoned. I called back the next morning, and I received the same response.

    I should mention that the shopping center and McDonalds were lit up, so there was some electricity flowing in the vicinity.

    I do not know why there was no power to the Superchargers at that particular time. But my gut tells me that the representatives have no way of knowing if the stalls are juiced up or not if no one is plugged in. They might record a concern in "real time," and if they receive enough of them send someone out to investigate while changing the symbol on the Supercharger map.

    Since I telephoned about an hour after I could not charge at Cabazon, perhaps they chalked it up to inexperience on my behalf and disregarded my call.

    Anyway, there might well be many more temporary outages for a variety of reasons that do not show on Tesla's maps because they get resolved quickly.

    It might be time for Tesla to have a dedicated telephone line just for Supercharging. If my assumptions are correct, it might be time also to have Tesla have a way to send signals to each of the Supercharger locations and individual stalls several times per hour to see if the stations and stalls have power. And then make this information available to everyone within a 200 mile radius of a particular Supercharger that appears to be down. Don't wait for us drivers to report outages. Become proactive!
     
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  6. Missile Toad

    Missile Toad Member

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    My theory on the situation, is that Tesla relies on the car to report unsuccessful charging attempts -- and that reporting, is via the cellular network. You said your phone was unable to connect -- so I'm suspecting that this could result from a temporary localized cellular outage (which is damn hard to pull off without a natural disaster. I'm a cellphone industry veteran).
    Anyway, the fact that the Tesla folks had no idea what was happening, tells me that they have crappy telemetry OR that they are deliberately blind to the problem, and don't want to report it out to anyone, including their customers.

    Since Tesla Oslo has a 'Gods eye' view of things, as per Bjorn video, I think the latter is more likely the case. And so, my numbers, above, are way underestimating the 'iffy charging experiences' that you observed first-hand. This scenario underscores the need for Tesla to federate the Supercharging network, by inviting a) new vendors in; and b) allowing profit motive to drive reliability to higher levels. If there is no profit, there is no accountability for these shenanigans.
     
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  7. cpa

    cpa Active Member

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    Thank you for your response, MissileToad. Your hypothesis sorta makes some sense when we consider Tesla's taciturn approach to communication.
     
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  8. Missile Toad

    Missile Toad Member

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    Outages (that I could see on my Nav) for February (again, checking once daily):
    02/05/17 Harris Ranch, CA
    02/24/17 Cabazon, CA
    02/24/17 Fremont, CA
    02/24/17 Tannersville, PA
    02/24/17 N. Houston, TX​
    Did I miss anything? Incidentally, this is the same month that the 'Occupancy bars' were shown in the Nav. I know that the Nav will, sometimes, report outages that are beyond a 24 hour drive from a Navigation screen's location, since I'm already getting info (in March) for New Hampshire. Nevertheless, Tesla support said that they suppress some stations that are beyond a 24 hour drive.

    During February, I took the family on their first overnight road trip. We visited one Supercharger, 3 HPWC and one J1772 charger on this trip. I actually got more miles added by the non-Superchargers... and I didn't loose time just to get to those alternative chargers. Of course one of them was the last open charging stall -- so my plans could have been foiled by just a single additional car at one of these locations.
     
  9. BerTX

    BerTX Active Member

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    The only outage I have experienced was during a storm-generated blackout in Price, UT. There was no indication of outage on the Nav screen. Tesla did not seem to know about it when we called. The symbol never changed while we were watching (probably 90 minutes) to indicate an outage.

    I think you give them too much credit.
     
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  10. Missile Toad

    Missile Toad Member

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    Hmmm, very troubling. This means a) no automatic hardware to report non-operative sites; b) no systematic way to take a phone call and update status based on on-the-ground travelers that see it with their own eyes. So its Las Vegas time every time you go to a charger.

    Sadly, though Plugshare does collect info on this, my experience is that something like 1% of all travelers will 'check in' at Plugshare when they charge... so, they too, will have a blind-spot for this stuff.
     
  11. wart

    wart Member

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    One other possible issue to think about:
    In early November I was on the return leg of a road trip and stopped at Lake Charles, LA to charge. The Supercharger itself appeared to be working - BUT I couldn't get to it because the shopping center was resurfacing the parking lot in that area. I called Tesla to tell them about it and the response was there was nothing they could do, since they don't own the parking lot. Fortunately I was able to find a hotel with destination charging and get enough juice to get to Channelview, TX. Though the delay did cost me a few hours.

    Anyway - it's possible for a Supercharger to be inaccessible for reasons that are beyond Tesla's knowledge or control. Detours due to road construction, etc. Some of these situations may be so short in duration that they are resolved before Tesla even knows about it. Long term the only solution I can think of is to have more Supercharger locations scattered around. In the immediate term, when road tripping, all I can say is plan ahead, maintain a strategic reserve of energy, and have a backup plan.
     
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  12. Missile Toad

    Missile Toad Member

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    <Missile Toad makes a face like he ate a fossilized pistachio nut> So, always have a plan B in mind when you SuperCharge... cause it looks like, the above UT and LA state chargers were off-line/inaccessible, without any corresponding info on the Tesla Navigation.
     
  13. TexasEV

    TexasEV Well-Known Member

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    Only an EV enthusiast would think of checking in on Plugshare, and usually only at non-superchargers. Sadly, most Tesla buyers recently seem to be more autopilot or performance enthusiasts than EV enthusiasts.
     
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  14. Missile Toad

    Missile Toad Member

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    When is Tesla going to add AI sufficient to detect the one-fingered salute (middle) given to the Tesla Nav, so that it can get a clue, that a site is down and propagate that to the network? Any possibility some of the auto-pilot algorithms could get re-purposed for that?
     
  15. cpa

    cpa Active Member

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    Here are some questions for you electrical engineering and computer experts concerning outages:

    (1) Is it difficult to have some sort of small vampire drain to and from the SC stalls? Would this take a lot of electricity and drive Tesla's cost up significantly? I am thinking along the lines of continual diagnostic reporting. This could identify individual stalls or the entire location as unavailable due to power outages.

    (2) Could this diagnostic be transmitted to Corporate every X minutes (say 10) and then have this information pushed to the cars, the website, and to our cell phones via text or some other alert to all vehicles within a 250-mile (or whatever is reasonable) radius?

    (3) It seems really peculiar to me that the terms of the leases that Tesla negotiates with the property owners do not require advance notification of parking lot closures for repairs, repaving, restriping, etc. It would be so easy to incorporate this advance notice on the car browser: "The X Location Supercharger parking lot is scheduled to be closed from June 5 through June 7 for parking lot maintenance. Please call this number to verify status before attempting to charge there."
     
  16. TexLaw

    TexLaw Member

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    I don't find that peculiar at all. Such notice provisions typically are looked upon as a nuisance by the one who has to give the notice, and retail property owners and managers really hate them. I can just see the look on an off-site property manager's face when calls start coming in and asking whether access to the superchargers is blocked. Good luck with that. ;)

    Tesla, essentially, is a guest when it comes to these sort of locations (i.e., they pay no rent), so they just don't have the leverage.

    What you describe would be wonderful, but I don't see it happening unless and until Tesla pays some rent.
     
  17. Missile Toad

    Missile Toad Member

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    It would be a trivial expense for Tesla to hoist two all-weather security cameras above the security fence around each of the supercharger pens. Then, two Tesla employees could be placed on around the clock review of still images from these cameras, rotating through all (in the U.S.) 700 of them in 2-3 hours. If anything suggests that re-striping/repaving is being prepared, then I would think that at least an hour (or four) early warning could be established through such surveillance.

    Alternatively, a weekly call to the hosting business could be conducted where a 5 minute survey is performed:
    a) getting many Tesla drivers buying stuff at your business?
    b) are you hearing any gripes from them?
    c) is there anything we can do to help them or you?
    d) have any sinkholes opened up -- or any other impediments developed or likely to develop?
    e) How many of those 'brand X' cars (which we licensed the SuperChargers out to in 2017) visited last week?
    f) Did the Oscar Meyer Hot Dog car (which we retrofitted to all-electric in 2018) come by for a visit?
    ...
    etc. etc.
     

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