JB Straubel, Tesla’s CTO and co-founder, said recently that the company is pushing the speed limit on battery supercharging to where swapping isn’t practically needed anymore – the 5-minute territory, nowadays reserved only to gasoline stations.
Back in autumn last year, Tesla was unveiling a 90 kW supercharger, and promised to partially fill Model S batteries for free in about 30 minutes. This year, only two months ago, they unveiled a 120 kW version of the charger that would cut 10 minutes from that time. Straubel now says in a few years we’ll have 5 to 10 minutes top.
Well, that’s good news. When I was interviewing Elon Musk in May, he explained nicely that the “Supercharger computer is in constant communication with the car’s battery computer and continuously adjusting the power input to ensure that the battery is able to take the maximum power rate without damage. They have to dance a tight tango to make this work, which is part of why it isn’t something that any random electric car can use.”
Now these are his exact words, and what one can deduct from them is that the key to their success is having your own proprietary system that works from the bottom up for the same cause. That’s why other electric car manufacturers still lag behind Tesla.
This is going to get even more interesting when Elon will announce a $35,000 electric car that will be able to use the technology. Now, maybe that won’t have the autonomy of a Model S, but it will surely be compensated through the abundance of supercharging stations and their speed. I wouldn’t mind stopping every 150 miles to charge for 5 minutes, especially if electricity is on the house.