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The Fragility of the Supercharger Network

Discussion in 'Charging Standards and Infrastructure' started by Brunton, Oct 11, 2016.

  1. Brunton

    Brunton Pontificating the obvious

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    Over the last few days, hurricane Matthew knocked out the supercharger in Lumberton, NC. The one in Warsaw, NC also went dark.

    I drove from Charleston to NJ Thursday night, and had no problems. Returning Sunday was a very different story.

    Starting with a positive note, my Tesla knew that the Lumberton SC was out. It was not a case of surprised on arrival, as many folks were during the Newark DE supercharger outage earlier this year.

    BUT...

    ...the trip planner in the car did NOT take into account highway closings when calculating my route or energy needs estimates (I'm sure at some point that will come).

    Having a 90D, I was able to amass enough charge in Rocky Mount NC to reach Santee SC - barely, and in standard conditions. The day was not at all standard.

    Once I reached Dunn SC, we learned that I-95 was closed southbound. Then we learned that US 301 was closed. Proceeding south would require a detour that would require more range that I had left. I had no choice but to divert and recharge at a painfully slow level 2 charger in Fayetteville SC.

    After collecting about 35 miles worth of additional electrons (nearly two hours at the charger), we once again had enough energy to get to Santee - we thought. Turns out that the route the navigator planned out used a road that was closed (again). We had to divert all the way up to Burlington NC to fully charge to complete an alternate route into Santee.

    All in all, it took us an extra eight hours to complete our journey back to Charleston - six of it on the road, five of that simply to get to and from the Burlington supercharger. If we had a smaller battery it would have been much worse. The extra 30 or so miles of range in the new P100's would have been very welcome, believe me!

    The Lumberton outage, and the earlier Newark outage, serve to illustrate just how fragile our Tesla long distance travel ability really is. One dark supercharger can effectively sever one part of the country from another for many, if not most, Tesla drivers.

    The solution is simple - more superchargers. One in Benson NC, halfway between Rocky Mount and Lumberton, and one in Florence SC, halfway between Lumberton and Santee, would have allowed me to make a much shorter detour than the 250+ mile route I had to take.

    Looking at a couple other parts of the country - suppose Goodland KS goes dark. The I-70 artery is essentially severed, forcing detours of hundreds of miles to get to I-40 or I-90. Or suppose Shamrock TX is hit with an outage. The only choice now is to divert - again, hundreds of miles - to I-70.

    Once the main routes are all basically completed, it seems to me that Tesla will need to start "filling in" with additional superchargers to eliminate at least some of the multitudes of single point route failure modes that currently exist.
     
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  2. TexasEV

    TexasEV Active Member

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    I don't think we can expect the supercharger routes to have redundancies built in for natural disasters. There are still too many places we can't get to at all or only with long out of the way routes.
     
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  3. Brunton

    Brunton Pontificating the obvious

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    Not immediately, sure, but once those are filled in...

    And while Lumberton and Warsaw are due to natural disasters, Newark certainly wasn't.

    I'm suggesting that the next level of network analysis be done to identify single point failures for future mitigation.
     
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  4. dhanson865

    dhanson865 Active Member

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    No natural disaster but the only Supercharger within 100 miles of Knoxville, TN is down and has gone down multiple times in the last year.

    Definitely more robust if they add more locations on different power grids (around here it would all be TVA but at least a different local utility would be managing the local portion).
     
  5. Nismode

    Nismode Member

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    You have a valid point. I'm also reminded of how fragile road travel is in general. A few years back in the NY metro area, I remember working in CT and people literally lining up at gas stations there from NY with gas cans because a lot of NY gas stations ran out of gas and couldn't get refuelled for days. At least with solar, people could fill up on the sun (not pending any sun outage or cloudy weather).
     
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  6. X Fan

    X Fan Member

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    Traveled from Raleigh to NC Coast yesterday on I40 and Nav. suggested a detour around previously flooded location. Fortunately, we didn't have to detour since NC DOT had just opened within the hour the East bound section (West bound was & still is closed).

    Thus, it seems Tesla had it mostly right......

    btw: for at least two weeks, my recommendation is that anyone traveling through the Carolinas check with both SC and NC DOT's for travel updates. Last year's SC floods made us detour significantly to get to the section of I95 that was open southbound.

    btw2: I believe Warsaw SC is reachable and open....
     
  7. James Anders

    James Anders Member

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    If electricity is out...gas pumps and stations can't function either.
     
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  8. Lawsteve

    Lawsteve MCATDT

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    I'm planning a trip from Tampa FL to Charleston next week (Wednesday) for meetings in Charleston. Planning to stop in Savannah Wed night and continue on to Charleston on Thursday. Do you feel the power situation will be resolved by then, or should I plan to gas up my wife's ICE for the trip?
     
  9. Az_Rael

    Az_Rael Active Member

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    This is probably why having a Chademo adapter is a good backup plan. With the adapter, you might have had more options (depending on road closures, etc)

    image.jpeg
     
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  10. Brovane

    Brovane Member

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    So would rather have Tesla focus on covering more areas with SC's or make the current areas covered by SC's more redundant?

    Since the first SC in November 2012 about 1 Supercharger location has been opened every 3.4 days. I think this pace is about what we can reasonably expect from Tesla.
     
  11. Doug_G

    Doug_G Lead Moderator

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    A short-term problem with power outages is an annoyance. But a truly major disaster, like the earthquate/tsunami in northern Japan, wiped out so much infrastructure that gasoline became completely unavailable inside the disaster zone. Yet power was restored to the region very quickly. As a result, electric cars were widely used as relief vehicles because they could recharge in the disaster zone, whereas any gasoline or diesel vehicles had to bring their supplies with them.
     
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  12. AMPUP

    AMPUP Member

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    So I keep seeing reports of Lumberton being flooded. So is the supercharger under water? From what I remember the area is pretty low to the local landscape and river? Anyone in the area know for sure.
     
  13. cmc5dc

    cmc5dc Member

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    You may want to try the navigation application, Waze, in conjunction with Trip Planner. They compliment each other well.
     
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  14. apacheguy

    apacheguy Sig 255, VIN 320

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    Or better yet put some power packs at problem locations.
     
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  15. X Fan

    X Fan Member

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    I’d call Tesla to make sure. Recommendation: we’ve made the trip from Naples to NC 8 times so far. If your planning on stopping at Savannah, stay at the Westin Golf resort. They have two Tesla chargers and it’s great to start the day on a full charge (and you can get easily to Charleston via 17 but check with SC DOT to make sure the route is not flooded.) Charleston has some hotels with power too.
     
  16. Lawsteve

    Lawsteve MCATDT

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    Thanks for the tip. I assume there is no issue getting from St Augustine SC to Savannah. I'm just trying to figure out whether to stop at Savannah SC on the way in or wait until the next morning and do it on the way out. That problem might be solved by the Westin! Being the cheapskate that I am, just need to decide whether it is worth the $50 extra versus the room I have reserved in Savannah proper.

    I'm staying at a Charleston hotel with HPWC's, so there will be no problem there.
     
  17. habanero69

    habanero69 I Dont Need Cialis. I Drive an EV.

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    In FLorida, most have generators. After 2004 and 2005 hurricanes, which had many stations out for days/weeks, many put in generators. In fact incentives were provided as well as for grocery stores. I live in an area where if one of the main SC locations is down, I'm pretty much screwed for long distant travel unless I can use a lower charging method.
     
  18. X Fan

    X Fan Member

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    A note on Savannah....SC is at the airport which is about a 5 minute drive from I95. I forget whether it was 3A or B that was very slow but found 1's to be the fastest. Also, most of the day traveling through Savannah is OK, BUT around 4:30PM through 6PM Gulfstream lets out and you can waste a bunch of time in bumper-to-bumper traffic.

    For us, we have to leave at the right time to avoid Tampa, Jax and then Savannah traffic.....feel like frogger the video game sometimes.
     
  19. Pollux

    Pollux Member

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    Great thread.

    Speaking as a three-year owner, I've seen a ton of positive, rapid change in the SC network and support software. Three years ago, the network barely existed and forget about notifications whether SCs were available or not, not to mention trip planning software. The buildout and improvements continue, so I see reasons for optimism.

    There are a zillion electric plugs in the world. Worst case, you'd've recharged off of someone's 110 until you had enough juice to get to an L2.

    The true cost, IMHO, is time.

    I understand your point but wish to refine it. For lack of a better phrase, I'd call it "time fragility". For parts of the SC network that are thinly connected, an outage can quickly and dramatically increase the amount of time required to traverse that segment.

    This is already happening in parts of the country where the owner density (or maybe trip density?) is high enough. Look at parts of California and the northeastern US. For example, in Connecticut -- a state that doesn't even allow Tesla to have a direct sales presence! -- there are Superchargers at Greenwich, Darien, Milford and Hartford. You could even count Darien as TWO SCs, since it has separate northbound and southbound SC stops. Plus a nearby SC under construction at Tarrytown, NY. You could knock out any of these SCs and still have healthy connectivity.

    I think there will always be parts of the country where it will be hard for Tesla to justify more than one SC. So it's always a good idea to carry multiple charging options, e.g., your UMC with NEMA 14-50 and other tips, and maybe a chademo (thinking about getting one of those myself).

    Even in 2016, Tesla owners are still early adopters!

    I'm glad you were able to get home intact, albeit much later than planned!

    Thanks again for this thread, it's interesting reading.

    Alan
     
  20. jaguar36

    jaguar36 Member

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    I'd really like to see some trailer mounted gasoline powered superchargers that Tesla could bring in for situations where the chargers go down. I know its against the whole internal combustion thing, but I'd happily use a little bit of gas if it meant not being stranded or stuck on a 110v. They would only need to have a few of these sprinkled around the country and they would be able to get to a down supercharger quite quickly.
     

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