Tesla plans major U.S. expansion of Supercharger fast-charging


Tesla Model S at Supercharger site in Ventura, CA, with just one slot open  [photo: David Noland]

Tesla Model S at Supercharger site in Ventura, CA, with just one slot open [photo: David Noland]

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Tesla will undertake a major expansion of its Supercharger network of DC fast-charging stations this year.

The Silicon Valley automaker is already one of the most committed to offering widespread DC fast charging, positioning the stations as a way for customers to complete longer journeys more easily.

After expansion slowed in 2016, Tesla hopes to regain momentum this year.

DON'T MISS: Tesla Model 3 timing confirmed: first cars in July, 5K a week by next year

Among other announcements in its most recent shareholder letter, the company announced plans to double the number of U.S. Supercharger sites in 2017.

Tesla currently has 373 Supercharger sites across the U.S., Canada, and Mexico, totaling 2,636 individual charging stations.

Globally, the company has 790 sites that total 5,043 Supercharger stations.

Tesla Supercharger site in Newburgh, New York, up and running - June 2015

Tesla Supercharger site in Newburgh, New York, up and running - June 2015

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It has also begun installing 240-volt Level 2 AC stations to supplement the Supercharger network.

What Tesla calls "Destination Chargers" are placed at locations where customers are expected to park their cars for longer periods of time, such as hotels and parking garages.

ALSO SEE: Tesla Supercharger map fills in more U.S. gaps for electric-car charging (Mar 2016)

The longer charging times of the AC stations compared to the DC Supercharger stations is less of an issue in those situations, Tesla believes.

It hopes to reserve Supercharger stations for customers taking longer trips, with many of its recent efforts to expand the U.S. network focusing on routes linking the East and Midwest to the West.

Tesla Supercharger site in Newburgh, New York, under construction - June 2015

Tesla Supercharger site in Newburgh, New York, under construction - June 2015

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Tesla has also tried to gently encourage customers not to use Supercharger stations for local driving, although that was not met with a wholly positive response.

Tesla no longer offers unlimited free Supercharging to all customers.

CHECK OUT: Tesla releases Supercharger electric-car fast-charge prices

Buyers who ordered a Tesla electric car after January 15 get 400 kilowatt-hours of free charging, after which fees kick in.

In North America, those fees differ for individual states or provinces, while in other markets one fee is set for the entire country.

Tesla Model 3 design prototype - reveal event - March 2016

Tesla Model 3 design prototype - reveal event - March 2016

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Tesla has said it doesn't intend to make significant profits off Supercharger use, but the fees may help the company address overcrowding that is already experienced at certain sites, especially during peak travel periods.

With the first $35,000, 215-mile Model 3 electric cars scheduled to be delivered later this year, Tesla's Supercharger expansion is well timed.

MORE: Tesla now tells electric cars about charger status en route

CEO Elon Musk hopes to achieve a production rate of 500,000 cars per year next year, largely through volume Model 3 production.

All of those new electric-car owners will need places to charge.

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