Tesla Motors (NASDAQ:TSLA) was in the news on Tuesday when the WSJ reported that Tesla owners are being frustrated by long waits at Superchargers. If you get to start charging your Model S in a Supercharger as soon as you get there, you’ll spend about 30 minutes for a decent charge. Now, if there are 4 Model S cars ahead of you in the line for a Supercharger, you’ll have to wait for about 120 minutes or two hours before it gets to your turn.
As part of moves to ease the strain on users, Tesla wants to regulate the use of its Supercharger stations. It appears that Tesla is changing its promise of free charging for life to free charging for long distance trips alone.
Tesla users can charge the cars at their homes but they get to pay for the cost of the electricity. However, they can charge for free at the station and this is already causing congestion in some locations. As at May, Tesla had 437 stations with 2,395 Superchargers, but the network is not just growing as fast as people are buying Tesla’s cars.
Liquid Cooled Superchargers to the Rescue
Tesla is not only regulating the use of its Superchargers, the firm is also working on reducing the time spent charging. Most ICE (Internal Combustion Engine) cars can be refueled within 5 minutes while Tesla EV’s will need about 30 minutes for a decent charge. EV’s have their advantages over ICE cars; but, a faster charging time (say under 10 minutes) will definitely close much of the gap between the volume sales of EVs and ICEs. In addition, faster charging times will reduce wait times and save Tesla from having to go back on its word.
Tesla is now testing out liquid-cooled Superchargers as opposed to the original air-cooled chargers. Liquid-cooled units will be smaller, have a lighter charging cable, run cooler, and probably deliver a charge faster. The liquid-cooled units were seen in a Mountain View, CA station and it won’t be long before Tesla start outfitting other stations with the new model.
Battery Swap is the Ultimate Solution
Liquid-cooling superchargers are better than air-cooled ones but they are not likely to deliver a full charge under 5 minutes. Tesla’s battery swap project has been demonstrated to replace a flat battery with a fully-charged one in under 5 minutes. However, Elon Musk has practically pulled the plug on battery swap because people didn’t buy into the idea.
The abandoned battery swap project might the solution to delivering a full-charge for Tesla’s cars in the shortest time possible. Elon Musk would do well to revisit, repackage and rebrand its battery swap plan. Tesla is already working on rolling out batteries at its Gigafactory in massive numbers.
The expertise of the chemistry prof from Canada will make those batteries stronger. Additional efforts on consumer education will remove of the barriers to battery swap. Then, Tesla drivers can easily go from zero charge to full charge under 5 minutes and ICE cars will have one less thing to brag about.