Tesla will officially open new Supercharger stations which aim to connect the Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland and Austria. Tesla’s hope is that owners of the acclaimed Model S will be able to travel for free using only electricity on the German Autobahn and to destinations in Alpine regions.
The Superchargers were first rolled out in September 2012 with the first European stations appearing in Norway less than a year later. Today, there are already 81 Supercharger locations, 14 of which are in Europe. As with most companies, Tesla is keen to tell how much their product is being used and with nearly 7 million miles having been travelled using energy provided by the Tesla Superchargers which, in rough maths, has saved over 1 million litres of fuel.
The new locations in Europe are, Germany (Wilnsdorf, Bad Rappenau, Aichstetten and Jettingen), Switzerland (Lully), Austria (St. Anton) and the Netherlands (Zevenaar and Oosterhout).
The locations of Superchargers in Germany are such because Tesla is intending their use to be aimed for owners of the Model S living between Cologne, Frankfurt, Stuttgart and Munich. Likewise,these sites help network with other European cities including Amsterdam, Zurich and Innsbruck.
Tesla hopes that by the end of March 2014, 50% of the German population will live within 320km of a Supercharger and 100% by the end of 2014. This represents only a few Superchargers and critics of the system will be quick to point out that living that distance away from a Supercharger is not likely to be a one stop place, though of course it will help with longer journeys.
Tesla Superchargers provide up to 120 kW DC power directly to the battery in the Model S. They bypass the on-board charging equipment altogether, as this is designed to convert AC to DC for conventional mains charging situations. Approximately 20 minutes of charge gives 50% range for the Model S.
Although Tesla claim their Superchargers to be free, it is worth noting that access to the Supercharger stations is an optional extra from Tesla when purchasing a Model S. The base Model S, 60 kWh model, does not come with Supercharger access and as such the option costs £1,800 with the car costing £49,900. However, the two higher spec. cars the 85kWh and 85kWh Performance do come with Supercharger access included in the price. They cost £57,300 and £68,700 respectively meaning that despite their added toys and range over the 60 kWh model, the Supercharger network is definitely not free. £1,800 offers a huge amount of electricity at standard charges and there are many fast charging public chargers already in place within the UK.
All in all, the uptake of the Superchargers then is a good thing as it offers an extra level of electric car charging infrastructure. The problem is simply that there aren’t enough of them but the good news is the network is rapidly expanding all the time. However, the unless purchasing the more expensive 85 kWh Model S, purchasers of the 60 kWh model should think twice about spending £1,800 on being able to use the facility.