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Tesla Motors Unveils Network of Solar Powered Superchargers

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Tesla and SolarCity Supercharger NetworkElon Musk, chief officer of Tesla Motors and chairman of SolarCity, announced Monday that six LIII “SuperChargers” would be made available in California, free indefinitely to Tesla Model S owners.

The six chargers are just the beginning, though, as Musk plans on expanding the network nationwide and into Canada within the next five years. Yes, this is an ambitious project, but then, nothing that Elon Musk has done with Tesla Motors has been without its share of ambition.

The reason behind this is, as Musk explains, that the public needs an answer to three major difficulties holding back electric vehicles [EV]. Range, dirty power grids, and electricity cost are all factors that could really be a problem for those considering buying an EV. Regarding range, the Tesla Model S delivers more than 250 miles on a full charge, more than any other EV on the market.

When it comes to recharging, another issue arises. Primarily, where does the electricity come from? Fossil fuel plants produce carbon-dioxide, which would defeat the purpose of a driving a clean EV, not to mention the cost of that electricity. To that end, Tesla and SolarCity are working together to build and install purely solar-powered EV charging stations. So far, two of the six initial superchargers are fully solar-powered, 24 and 26 kW. The other four stations are grid-powered at the moment, and will convert to pure solar as well.

There is one caveat, though. The new supercharger network will only be compatible with Tesla Model S vehicles with the 60 and 80 kWh battery packs. It will not work with any other Tesla model or any other EV model, as Tesla has designed its own proprietary supercharger system and connectors.

The Tesla LIII superchargers will be able to charge at between 100 and 120 kWh, which means that a Tesla Model S with an 85 kWh battery pack can be half-charged, about 120 miles range, in only thirty minutes, or fully charged in about an hour. “Tesla is demonstrating just how fundamentally better electric transport can be,” said Musk, “We are giving Model S the ability to drive almost anywhere for free on pure sunlight.”

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