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Supercharger capacity

vapor trail

Member
Sep 9, 2015
220
204
Roseville, CA
Anyone concerned that as MS, MX and Model 3 numbers grow (with potential significant numbers in the Model 3 sector) supercharger stations will quickly become saturated and routinely overwhelmed with demand? Perhaps the brain trust at Tesla has all this figured out, but if you quadruple the number of Teslas on the road I could see this being a problem, totally taking the charm out of road trips.

Of course, this hasn't stopped me from ordering my MS!
 

Saghost

Well-Known Member
Oct 9, 2013
8,217
7,010
Delaware
There's only ten or fifteen other threads on this. :)

The answer is that it would be a problem if Tesla doesn't do something about it. However, they've been setting aside some money out of every car to build superchargers - so more cars sold means more money to build more superchargers.

Also, right now Tesla is mostly building to get coverage - adding new areas to the mesh of coverage, new destinations. Within the next year, they should have the US (and Europe) pretty well covered, though - which means they can instead turn the teams and parts and resources to adding capacity instead - either by expanding the current sites or by adding alternate sites in between the existing ones.

Additionally, Tesla can (and I believe will before long) improve the situation with software. They've been working on routing software that goes through superchargers for at least a year now. In the future, I expect it will reach out to a Tesla server for real time status of the Superchargers along the route - and leave a set of estimated arrival/usage "reservations" on the server for the next car to see. This will let Tesla adjust the traffic in real time - folks who don't have specific stops in mind will be perfectly happy to have the car route (and drive, with Autopilot..) them to an alternate overlapping set of chargers rather than having to wait.

In short, it's a potential issue but Tesla has all the tools and resources to mitigate it, and it's a much easier problem than the ones they've already beat. :)
Walter
 

AngelArm1110

Member
Jan 14, 2015
65
52
Orillia Ontario
I actually had an idea concerning the overuse of SC stations, its not a whole solution yet though. Anyway the superchargers were built with the purpose of enabling long distance travel, so in order to access them, I propose that you should have to submit your trip planner route to a Tesla database, which will then authorize your car to use the SC stations along your route, probably for a determined window of time

again this is not a whole solution, it probably needs a lot added, but its my two cents
 

iadbound

Member
Apr 24, 2014
648
16
No. VA
I actually had an idea concerning the overuse of SC stations, its not a whole solution yet though. Anyway the superchargers were built with the purpose of enabling long distance travel, so in order to access them, I propose that you should have to submit your trip planner route to a Tesla database, which will then authorize your car to use the SC stations along your route, probably for a determined window of time

again this is not a whole solution, it probably needs a lot added, but its my two cents

Tesla has trouble communicating as it is, and I certainly don't want it deciding my route for me based on the sometimes absurd instructions the nav system gives. Moreover, and far more importantly, the notion of pre-clearing my itinerary with my car company sounds far too disturbing. Papers please? No thanks!
 
Tesla has trouble communicating as it is, and I certainly don't want it deciding my route for me based on the sometimes absurd instructions the nav system gives. Moreover, and far more importantly, the notion of pre-clearing my itinerary with my car company sounds far too disturbing. Papers please? No thanks!
Yes, absolutely. Further, I do not like the idea of ... someone ... knowing I will be out of town.
~Larry
 

SeminoleFSU

Voluntaryist
Apr 5, 2013
1,456
359
Atlanta, GA
moreover, and far more importantly, the notion of pre-clearing my itinerary with my car company sounds far too disturbing. Papers please? No thanks!
this*10^10000000000000000000

- - - Updated - - -

Yes, absolutely. Further, I do not like the idea of ... someone ... knowing I will be out of town.
~Larry
well they can already track you with the built in cellular connection and GPS... Enjoy!
 

ItsNotAboutTheMoney

Well-Known Member
Jul 12, 2012
10,551
7,701
Maine
No, I'm not. In fact I think that the situation will improve because at large volume Tesla will have both coverage and capacity.

If $300,000 for 8 stalls, then $500 per car would allow construction of one 8-stall Supercharger per 600 cars sold. Given the low percentage of miles that require Supercharging that would be more than enough.
 
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OverZealous

Member
Oct 15, 2014
68
0
Louisville, KY
I think the solution to solving the supercharger issue is much simpler than most have suggested. The Model S & X both have unlimited "free" usage of the SC network rolled in, which means there's no penalty for using the service whenever you want. This leads to abuse, but it makes sense to drivers who are more concerned with convenience than with the cost.

For the Model 3 & Y, I expect Tesla to implement a pay-to-use system. The more expensive vehicles won't necessarily change, but the cheaper vehicles can simply pay a nominal fee to use the network whenever they are on long trips. It would have to be a little higher than charging at home (enough higher to offset the cost of having a plug installed & still be higher than the local going rate). I'd estimate 20-25¢/kWh would be pretty good, filling up the 85 from empty would cost around $17-21, which is still far cheaper than gas, and about 95-120 charges before the $2000† option is a better value.

This not only encourages drivers to charge at home, it also allows cost-conscious drivers to "enable" the SC network as-needed, without the hefty $2000 up-front cost. It's easier to swallow, and more similar to what consumers are used to with gas stations. It'll also make it much easier to enable 3rd-party use of super chargers, without worrying about overwhelming the system.

As for how: They already can enable or disable charging on a car-by-car basis, so all they need to do is roll out a software update to the car where you can provide a CC, and it'll process the cost automatically after you charge the car.

They could still offer the $2000 option on less expensive vehicles, but I think the vast majority of drivers would skip it, because they only travel long distances occasionally.

† I'm basing the $2000 on the factory-cost for enabling SC on the S60.
 

Griffinlair

Member
Nov 22, 2014
70
2
Cincinnati, OH
No, I'm not. In fact I think that the situation will improve because at large volume Tesla will have both coverage and capacity.

If $300,000 for 8 stalls, then $500 per car would allow construction of one 8-stall Supercharger per 600 cars sold. Given the low percentage of miles that require Supercharging that would be more than enough.
I'm not sure of the numbers, but a large majority of Tesla are still found in California. They may be under developed from the idea of an 8 stall station per every 600 Model S/X. That should get better over time as they once they "cover" the US, they can backfill from a capacity standpoint.
 

Cottonwood

Roadster#433, Model S#S37
Feb 27, 2009
5,088
166
Colorado
I'm not sure of the numbers, but a large majority of Tesla are still found in California. They may be under developed from the idea of an 8 stall station per every 600 Model S/X. That should get better over time as they once they "cover" the US, they can backfill from a capacity standpoint.

Tesla has already started to infill for capacity where needed. LA and the Bay Area are good examples.

Hawthorne was having a lot of queuing issues a year ago with 6 stalls. Then Tesla opened up Redondo Beach and Culver City, 4 and 8 miles away each with 12 stalls, as well as upgrading Hawthorne to 12 stalls. Now there is no queueing at Hawthorne.

In the Bay Area, San Mateo, Mountain View, Fremont, and Dublin are all within 15-18 miles of each other and that close spacing helps reduce capacity problems.

Staying ahead of capacity problems and avoiding queueing is a pretty straight-forward problem that has been dealt with my telecommunications engineers for well over a 100 years. It's not rocket science, but it is Queueing Theory. See Capacity of Superchargers Using an Erlang-B Model for some discussion relative to Superchargers. I am sure that Tesla will stay ahead of the capacity curve. They may stumble occasionally like in Hawthorne last year, but in general, they seem to have this handled.
 

DillyBop

Member
Sep 24, 2015
173
80
Middleburg, VA
i am concerned about this, yes. not just with Tesla but any EV. in fact i believe it to be the #1 problem/obstacle facing widespread adoption and use of EV as sustainable transport.
 

cpa

Active Member
May 17, 2014
3,115
4,003
Central Valley
Yes, I think by and large that Tesla will have most of the saturation issues figured out by the time the expected build-out of Superchargers is completed, likely in about two years, give or take. Tesla has reams of data about usage at every location. I am sure that they know things like median, mean and mode of the length of stay and charge received. They know the times of day and week when SCs are full, nearly full, not-too-full and empty. I assume that they know the traffic counts on all the highways served by Superchargers and can combine this information with cars sold within a certain radius of the SC sites.

Barstow and Gilroy have been expanded as well in the past 18 months or so as well as Hawthorne.

There will always be outlying times when we will be faced with congestion, and Tesla should not contemplate these rare occurrences in their network. These situations would be during extreme travel times, like holiday weekends from LA - SF or LA - Vegas.

The only thing that I would implore Tesla to do in the next two years would be to have "real-time" information as to the operational availability of all Superchargers. Since I have owned my S, there have been a couple of times where a SC location was fully disabled or with reduced power. Tesla was prompt in fixing the issues (or in the case of Harris Ranch arranging for diesel generators to provide power.) I have no doubt that Tesla will continue to service their Superchargers promptly to return them to full working order. But it would be frustrating at the least to plan a vacation and wind up stranded in a remote location or having to find a trickle charge overnight in order to resume the journey, when knowledge of any disruption in advance would permit an adjustment in itinerary or travel route.
 

ItsNotAboutTheMoney

Well-Known Member
Jul 12, 2012
10,551
7,701
Maine
Yes, I think by and large that Tesla will have most of the saturation issues figured out by the time the expected build-out of Superchargers is completed, likely in about two years, give or take. Tesla has reams of data about usage at every location. I am sure that they know things like median, mean and mode of the length of stay and charge received. They know the times of day and week when SCs are full, nearly full, not-too-full and empty. I assume that they know the traffic counts on all the highways served by Superchargers and can combine this information with cars sold within a certain radius of the SC sites.

Barstow and Gilroy have been expanded as well in the past 18 months or so as well as Hawthorne.

There will always be outlying times when we will be faced with congestion, and Tesla should not contemplate these rare occurrences in their network. These situations would be during extreme travel times, like holiday weekends from LA - SF or LA - Vegas.

The only thing that I would implore Tesla to do in the next two years would be to have "real-time" information as to the operational availability of all Superchargers. Since I have owned my S, there have been a couple of times where a SC location was fully disabled or with reduced power. Tesla was prompt in fixing the issues (or in the case of Harris Ranch arranging for diesel generators to provide power.) I have no doubt that Tesla will continue to service their Superchargers promptly to return them to full working order. But it would be frustrating at the least to plan a vacation and wind up stranded in a remote location or having to find a trickle charge overnight in order to resume the journey, when knowledge of any disruption in advance would permit an adjustment in itinerary or travel route.

Actually I think Tesla does need to think about the peak, and I think that it's one of the reasons that swapping capability would be valuable. The rest of the time a swap station would be an energy storage unit.
 

Cottonwood

Roadster#433, Model S#S37
Feb 27, 2009
5,088
166
Colorado
Actually I think Tesla does need to think about the peak, and I think that it's one of the reasons that swapping capability would be valuable. The rest of the time a swap station would be an energy storage unit.

Tesla absolutely needs to plan for peaks. People will accept about one overload, queuing situation a year without complaint.

The old trunked telephone system called this the Mother's Day event. In the 70's, if you tried to call mom on Mother's Day, you often got a "fast busy" network overload signal. That did not happen the rest of the year. The telephone network was designed to handle the daily, weekly, and monthly peaks, but not the annual, Mother's-Day peak.

Tesla needs to plan Supercharger capacity for daily, weekly, and monthly peaks, but we can probably give them a little slack on the annual peaks.
 

David99

Active Member
Jan 31, 2014
4,850
7,024
Brea, Orange County
The old trunked telephone system called this the Mother's Day event. In the 70's, if you tried to call mom on Mother's Day, you often got a "fast busy" network overload signal. That did not happen the rest of the year. The telephone network was designed to handle the daily, weekly, and monthly peaks, but not the annual, Mother's-Day peak.

Tesla needs to plan Supercharger capacity for daily, weekly, and monthly peaks, but we can probably give them a little slack on the annual peaks.

Is there any other way to solve this issue other than actually building the capacity to handle the worst peak? In other words, I can't think of any other way than to actually build as many Superchargers as are needed at the worst day of the year.
 

Saghost

Well-Known Member
Oct 9, 2013
8,217
7,010
Delaware
Is there any other way to solve this issue other than actually building the capacity to handle the worst peak? In other words, I can't think of any other way than to actually build as many Superchargers as are needed at the worst day of the year.

That's hard to answer when phrased that way. I don't think there's any way to avoid delays without building as many as are needed on the worst day - but several things change how many are needed, and how much delay is acceptable changes things as well.

The flexible routing with shared planning I mentioned earlier would be a big help, matching up cars with stalls so all the local stalls get used. Software that encourages drivers to unplug and head out as soon as they have a minimum buffer (or auto valet to unplug at that point and move out of the stall,) would help a lot. Even something to encourage more destination charging could make a significant difference.

But ultimately, the system will have to be oversized to some extent to match peak loads, just like lots of other things in life.
 

Cottonwood

Roadster#433, Model S#S37
Feb 27, 2009
5,088
166
Colorado
See Supercharger - Truckee #2 (location confirmed, opening soon?) for an example is where Tesla seems to be putting in capacity by adding a second Supercharger to Truckee.

This is a good example of where info to the driver arriving into Truckee would help them go to the Supercharger Site with open stalls and best charging capacity. In the queueing theory world, info could effectively convert two 8-stall sites into a 16-stall site with greater capacity and less queueing.
 

Skotty

2014 S P85 | 2020 3 P19"
Jun 27, 2013
2,440
1,752
Kansas City, MO
They will continue to build out the network. There has been the occasional debate over whether to fill out the empty areas first or further fill out areas that already have superchargers but have high demand.

If I might throw in my quick biased reasoning for filling out the empty areas first (at least in the USA):

1) Temper the divide between the coasts and the heartland. The heartland has grievances with the coasts -- example: refering to the heartland as the "fly over" states. Filling in the coasts further when there is no coverage in the heartland will strengthen the subtle resentment and make heartland adoption of EVs even harder to achieve.

2) Avoid chicken and egg problem. For the support that does exist in the heartland, many will want to see service center and supercharger coverage in the region before buying in, myself included.

3) Avoid compliance car syndrome. A frequent heartland dig against all things green is that the green only exists in California and a few other coastal states, and isn't a "real" thing. If Tesla focuses on the coasts, even if that is where the demand is, they fall into the compliance car trap. This is a thing; I myself was influenced in waiting longer to make a Tesla my next car instead of going with the Volt for a few more years when it was announced that the 2016 Volt is not a real car...er, I mean, has rollout limited to select states until 2017.

4) Coasters need heartland superchargers too. Last but not least, if the coasters decide to take trips in the east/west direction instead of north/south, they will be delighted to already have superchargers in place for such trips.
 

Cottonwood

Roadster#433, Model S#S37
Feb 27, 2009
5,088
166
Colorado
They will continue to build out the network. There has been the occasional debate over whether to fill out the empty areas first or further fill out areas that already have superchargers but have high demand.

If I might throw in my quick biased reasoning for filling out the empty areas first (at least in the USA):

...

Your arguments are good, but ignore the PR problem of queues at busy Superchargers. There would be a PR nightmare if there were consistent lines at many Superchargers.

Also, it does not cost much to add capacity to a few key areas. For example, Tesla has added 84 Supercharger sites in North America so far in 2015. Of those, less than 10 have been put in for capacity. Allocating 10-15% of the installs to increasing capacity in critical areas is a low price to pay to avoid the bad press of queues (lines) at Superchargers.

Tesla's apparent path of increasing capacity in critical locations while also adding geographic coverage, seems to be working.

While we would all like to see Superchargers installed more quickly, 84 new sites in 9 months for North America is not a bad rate... :biggrin:
 

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