Tesla Motors’ Model S just got a big leg up on any car—free energy. That’s thanks to the newly unveiled Supercharger network by Tesla Motors. The maker of the Model S will allow its Model S owners to charge their vehicles—for free—with their superfast, solar-powered chargers. The chargers can charge the 85 kilowatt hour Model S’ battery in a about an hour and provide a half charge in about a half hour.
“The solar power systems that are providing the energy, we’re sizing them with SolarCity to generate more power than they use over a course of a year,” said Tesla CEO and Founder Elon Musk. He said it shows that electric vehicles (EVs) don’t have to rely on coal or fossil fuel-based electricity. “It goes to the heart of the argument about the power plant.…We’re putting more power back than the cars use,” he said.
The economies of scale of the power produced and used by the Superchargers allow Tesla to provide power and charge the cars inexpensively. “It will enable us to offer this to Model S customers for free,” Musk said. “[Model S owners] can travel for free, forever, on sunlight. It’s pretty hard to beat that. Free long distance, you’re not going to get that with gasoline.”
At this point the 85 kilowatt hour car is the only vehicle that can use the Supercharger system because it’s the only EV vehicle with standard hardware appropriate for the quick charge system. However, the hardware is offered as a feature on the 60 kilowatt hour Model S but will carry a small charge but the company hasn’t announced how much the charge will be, according to Tesla spokesperson Christina Ra.
The Supercharger PV EV charging stations, being built with SolarCity, are already installed at six locations in California and Nevada. According to Musk, The chargers can charge about 100 kilowatts an hour and going forward at 120 kilowatts an hour. “What that means is you could drive for 3 hours, stop for less than half an hour and you’re ready to go again,” he said.
Now that the company has unveiled the first stations it plans to aggressively build out a network of chargers. “By the end of 2012 we’ll have a bunch more installed in California, extending to Oregon and Nevada,” Mush said. The company plans to cover most of the U.S. with its Supercharger network before expanding into the lower part of Canada, then Europe and Asia.