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Supercharging 5 Yrs Later: From "Possible" to "Practical" to "Convienent"

scaesare

Well-Known Member
Mar 14, 2013
8,538
14,765
NoVA
My daughter and I just took a ~350 mile beer-tasting trip down I-81 starting where I live here in the Northern VA are of the Mid-Atlantic region. We hit a couple of Superchargers along the way, and it got me thinking about the state of the infrastructure and how it's changed over the slightly more than 5 years since I bought the car.

When I first took delivery in late May of 2013, the only Supercharger within driving distance of me was in Newark DE, about 125 miles from me, and just about half way between my house and New York City. The second one I could reach opened 5 months later in Glenn Allen, VA, just North of Richmond where we travelled ~125 miles to several times a year. These were about 200 miles apart on I-95, which is THE major North-South corridor on the East coast.

In those days, the initial spacing made long distance travel Possible along these corridors. The spacing was such that you could make it from one to the next, if you were careful (very careful if you were a 60 owner). You had to plan, and absolutely needed to destination or secondary charging options when you got off the main arteries.

I used the Newark charger to make a couple of NYC trips. I had to make sure I found a hotel or garage with destination charging. If it was a day trip I absolutely had to start with a range charge. I carefully monitored my consumption. One early day trip to NJ was the only time I've ever driven down to 0 miles on a trip (actually -1 miles when I pulled in to the supercharger). The trip to Richmond became possible if destination charging wasn’t available.

So while it took significant planning and diligence, it was nonetheless a game changer.


A couple of years later, and I-95 had there were 4 chargers along that same corridor. And several more Superchargers farther North and South in each direction. Now I had a second option along the route. The distance between them was 100-120 miles. Travel on the I-95 corridor became Practical to charge when travelling to far more places. And not to necessarily need supplemental L1/L2 charging. And you could charge to 80% in 30-40 mins and aim for the next Supercharger, rather than having to spend an hour+ charging to near 100% to make it. I-81 got its first charger I could reach in Strasburg, VA, about 60 miles from me.

I could opt to charge just before getting in to NYC and not worry about destination charging in the city if it wasn't convenient. Coming home from Richmond I could get on the road and hit the station closer to my house instead of having to immediately stop. Some additional secondary highways were more accessible, as they were closer to a supercharger point. I could travel along I-95 without having to do a range charge at my house, and with minimal planning.

I was able to get off the beaten path to Myrtle Beach with a combination of a supercharger or two heading that direction, along with some L1 destination charging to offset daily use during the week we were there.

I-81 still required being careful... but with that one supercharger, the trip down to Devil’s Backbone Brewery 200 miles away was possible with a stop both coming and going at the supercharger, and one L2 in a parking lot near a couple of breweries in Staunton, about 80 miles farther South. I-81 had just entered the possible stage.



Now, there are Superchargers all up and down I-95. I just counted something like 20 between Richmond and NYC…that same corridor where there was only two within the first 6 months I got my car. They are spaced in many cases between 20-40 miles apart. They are located along major corridor intersections as well as along the routes. On I-81, there are now 3 along that same route, and an additional one just off it on I-64. Spacing is not as close, yet, with 30-80 miles between them, but far from the “we can just make the next station on a full charge” situation.

Travel in both these areas is no longer just possible or practical, it’s now Convenient.

Our day trip wasn’t really planned, we just headed off to the brewery. We stopped to charge much more when we wanted to, than when we had to. I don’t even think about it along I-95 anymore. I can find a supercharger within 20-30 minutes of just about wherever I am. We drove to Martha’s Vineyard a year and a half ago, and it was a breeze to charge along the way where we needed to.



There are lots of caveats, of course. If you are doing a lot of interim driving along secondary highways, you still have to plan. There are places where getting to a Supercharger requires going out of your way. Some areas of the country are still a bit of a no-man’s-land.

But, with my personal 5 years of Supercharged Travels, and the network nearing it’s 10,000th charger installation, I’m amazed on what’ Tesla has accomplished. It’s truly revolutionized the idea of what’s possible for EV’s. And I’m glad to see Tesla is continuing to expand aggressively. This level of convenience needs to extend to secondary, and even tertiary routes. And the gaps need to be filled in. And the volume associated with the Model 3 needs to be accommodated. And then there’s the rest of the globe….

So, for those still reading, thanks for letting me ramble… these last 5 years have been an amazing ride.
 

commasign

TeslaAdviceBlog.com
Aug 31, 2013
3,202
4,178
Davis, CA
Besides the increasing number of stalls per location (most new ones are 12, 24, or even 40 stalls), I love how Tesla is clustering supercharging locations. In California at least, they seem to be bunched in groups (I.e. 2 or even 3 separate locations within 10-20 miles of each other).
 
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scaesare

Well-Known Member
Mar 14, 2013
8,538
14,765
NoVA
Besides the increasing number of stalls per location (most new ones are 12, 24, or even 40 stalls), I love how Tesla is clustering supercharging locations. In California at least, they seem to be bunched in groups (I.e. 2 or even 3 separate locations within 10-20 miles of each other).
Agreed. Often around cities or interchanges.

The idea that you are within a short distance of a site in several directions is convenient. And with the distribution, the congestion isn't all building up in single locations (although California still looks to have challenges there...)
 

SW2Fiddler

We Are Cognitive Dissidents
Mar 19, 2014
2,362
3,248
Houston TX
Add a couple pictures of a scenic charger here, a brewery parking lot there ...and you've got a nice tidy feature story to sell to AAA (or other) Magazine!
 
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jaguar36

Active Member
Apr 10, 2014
2,089
1,664
NJ
When we ordered our car back in early 2014 I thought the supercharger thing was just a pipe dream. I made sure we had enough range on a single charge for all of our common trips, and just assumed we'd be keeping a 2nd ICE for vacations and such. Recently sold our ICE and now have two S's. The Supercharger network is amazing. Now as long as our destination has charging I never worry about where the chargers are or how fast I need to drive. Its awesome.

I'm truly shocked at the pace of the supercharger roll out, and how Tesla keep accelerating it even faster.
 

RangerRick

Member
Apr 30, 2016
91
149
Apex, NC
I am a new Tesla owner and I made the drive from Raleigh to Orlando and it was a breeze. I don't think we even really stopped any less than we would have anyways to stretch and go to the bathroom. And since the M3 is long range, stopping at (almost) every supercharger meant quick in and out 10-15 minute charges. It was soooo much less trouble than I expected it to be.
 

DriverOne

Supporting Member
Supporting Member
Aug 20, 2012
872
521
Austin, TX
The coasts look fantastic. The middle States are still mostly in the Possible state. I’m hoping for some redundancy to be added, as each is a single point of failure on a long trip, which makes it a little scary. e.g. I-40.

West Texas is largely barren and I-10 and I-20 are both still incomplete. The east & west coasts give great reason to be optimistic!
 
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scaesare

Well-Known Member
Mar 14, 2013
8,538
14,765
NoVA
The coasts look fantastic. The middle States are still mostly in the Possible state. I’m hoping for some redundancy to be added, as each is a single point of failure on a long trip, which makes it a little scary. e.g. I-40.

West Texas is largely barren and I-10 and I-20 are both still incomplete. The east & west coasts give great reason to be optimistic!
While I haven't driven those routes in my S (or indeed in any vehicle for a while now), I agree.

Going to supercharge.info and playing with the range circles on is an interesting exercise though. On I-40 it looks like distance between many chargers is 100-125 miles. Another 10-12 chargers along that route would be a huge improvement. And they really need something between Oklahoma City and Little Rock....
 

scottf200

Active Member
Feb 3, 2013
4,177
3,940
Chicagoland ModelX S603
...When I first took delivery in late May of 2013, the only Supercharger within driving distance of me was in Newark DE, about 125 miles from me, and just about half way between my house and New York City. The second one I could reach opened 5 months later in Glenn Allen, VA, just North of Richmond where we travelled ~125 miles to several times a year. These were about 200 miles apart on I-95, which is THE major North-South corridor on the East coast.

In those days, the initial spacing made long distance travel Possible along these corridors. The spacing was such that you could make it from one to the next, if you were careful (very careful if you were a 60 owner). You had to plan, and absolutely needed to destination or secondary charging options when you got off the main arteries. ...
Personally, I think that the Feb 2018 NYT Broder hoopla (Stalled on the E.V. Highway) benefited many of us in that Tesla was a lot more careful in their placement of Superchargers and distance between them.

10JPTESL1-jumbo-v2.jpg
 
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