Tesla Unveils Solar Powered Charging Stations

Tesla Motors unveiled the first of its six Supercharger stations in six California locations (Folsom, Gilroy, Coalinga, Lebec, Barstow and Hawthorne). The Supercharger stations are powered by a solar carport system made by SolarCity, and will allow the Model S sedan to receive a 90 kilowatt (KW) charge in about 30 minutes, which will keep the vehicle going for 150 miles. The solar carport system is designed to generate more solar power over a year than the average Tesla vehicle requires. This will result, according to a press release by the car company, in a “slight net positive transfer” of solar power being generated back to the power grid. Tesla plans to install 100 Superchargers in “high traffic corridors” throughout the U.S. by 2015. It will start installing them in Europe and Asia in 2013.

The Supercharger, at 90 KW, delivers 4.5 times more electricity to the battery of the Model S than Twin Chargers. Elon Musk, Tesla co-founder and CEO, calls the Supercharger network a “game changer for electric vehicles.” He cites several reasons why the Supercharger network is a game changer, including the longer traveling distance they provide Model S vehicles. “Tesla is demonstrating just how fundamentally better electric transport can be,” said Musk.

There is a downside to the Superchargers: they are only compatible with Model S sedans. Tesla has produced 255 Model S vehicles, but only delivered 132, according to a September 25 Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filing. Sources told Wired.com that each solar carport system “costs somewhere in the neighborhood of $250,000, with the total cost to cover the planned 100 stations at between $20 million and $30 million.”

That is a lot of money for a car company that clearly has a cash flow problem. In the September 25 filings, Tesla reported to the SEC that it is offering 4.3 million shares of its stock for sale. Tesla plans to have $228 million in cash available from the sale of its stock. It will need the money as it was informed by the Department of Energy (DOE), according to the filing, that it has until October 31 to submit plans for “early repayment” on its $465 million loan. In the filing, Tesla reported that it is “full drawn down” on the DOE loan.

The SEC filing reveals a production problem with the Model S sedans. Namely, Tesla has not yet been able to produce the anticipated number of the vehicles. It blames the slow down in production on suppliers who have “experienced delays in meeting our demand and we continue to focus on supplier capabilities and constraints.” The company’s objective is to produce 400 Model S vehicles a week before the end of this year which would “enable us to produce more than 20,000 Model S vehicles in 2013.”

Tesla anticipates decreased revenue for this year. It reported in the SEC filing that it anticipates revenue to be $400 to $440 million, a decrease from previous estimates of $560 million to $600 million. The company attributes this to the decrease in Model S production.

Photo: Tesla Motors

Gina-Marie Cheeseman

Gina-Marie is a freelance writer and journalist armed with a degree in journalism, and a passion for social justice, including the environment and sustainability. She writes for various websites, and has made the 75+ Environmentalists to Follow list by Mashable.com.

6 responses

  1. They will be fine. Bold vision requires bold strategy, placing 100+ “free” changing stations throughout the country over the next few years will add to the allure of their third generation vehicle that is said to be aiming at the $30k price range. Just think about it. 30% Smaller than the Model S (similar design), no gasoline, $30k, free cross country travel. Who would buy a Camry instead?

  2. As soon as my ship comes in, I’m all over this. Tesla has done a spectacular job and I”m looking forward to using these charging stations some day!

  3. As a Tesla Model S rteservation holder, I can testify that Tesla is also having some growing pains in regard to customer relations. Just a couiple of week ago, Tesla announced their service plan. The announcement was a post on their website, so a reservation holder who was not a regular visitor to that site would not know what is coming down. The site expalians that the car will have, in addition to the warrenty on the battery, a 4-year, 50K mile bumper-to-bumper warranty that includes replacement of all normal wear and tear items except tires (e.g., wipers, light bulbs, brake pads). Here is the catch, the warranty is void unless the car in inspected annually (or every 12,500 miles) by Tesla and the cost per inspection is $600. A fellow reservation holder and Tesla stock holder (and apparently and attorney) pointed out that this practice (particularly that of requiring the Tesla perform the inspections) may violate federal law. We’ll see if this service plan holds. In addition, when I finalized my order for a Model S with a 60-kw battery, the order indicated it would include the supercharger. Turns out this is technically true; however, I just found out from Telsa that the Supercharger hardware will be installed, but will be useless unless I fork over another $1,000 to have the enabling software installed and the unit calibrated, which they say can only be done during construction of the car. THis may be a moot point for me, however, because the distance between the planned locations of their Supercharging stations in my regions is greater than the range provided my 60-kw battery. It feels like Tesla is nickel and diming their customers, but as the SEC filings indicate, maybe we know why.

  4. Now if they had only thought about making the entire battery pack suspended on rails under the car you could be in and out of their charging station in less than the time it takes to run the credit card.

  5. It would have been helpful if all auto companies agrees for a uniform standard in charging stations and share their charging stations/ resources with other automobile companies. Companies can charge a fee from users of other automobile brands.

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