Tesla expands Supercharger fast-charging sites into cities for Model 3 owners


Tesla Supercharger for city centers

Tesla Supercharger for city centers

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With the mass-production Model 3 in mind, Tesla has begun to expand its Supercharger fast-charging stations into urban areas.

Earlier this month, Tesla opened its first two Supercharger stations in Chicago, Illinois, and Boston, Massachusetts.

The Chicago site features 10 charging stalls, while the Boston location is equipped with eight stalls.

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The goal of Tesla's Supercharger expansion is to make it easier for city dwellers to charge their Tesla vehicles if they don't have access to charging stations at home or at work.

However, the latest urban-based Supercharger stations aren't identical to the well-known stations located on popular driving routes and across freeways in the United States.

They feature a new post design that occupies less space, and power is capped at 72 kilowatts to ensure consistent charging for all vehicles using the stalls.

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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The Supercharger stations located outside of urban areas can charge up to 135 kilowatts; Tesla says the urban stations will take 45 to 50 minutes for an 80-percent battery charge.

Pricing remains the same as at any other Supercharger station, and there is neither a premium nor a discount for using the new urban sites.

The urban Supercharger expansions are the first step in another expansion of Tesla's already impressive Supercharger network.

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The Silicon Valley automaker has previously said it plans to double its Supercharger network this year after new construction slowed in 2016.

In total, Tesla operates 5,400 Supercharger stations globally—but it said this year it wants to expand that figure to 10,000 stations.

Additionally, the electric-car maker also operates 9,000 Destination Chargers at hotels, restaurants, and other locations to provide an at-home charging experience on the go.

Tesla Supercharger site in Vacaville, California, before expansion [photo: George Parrott]

Tesla Supercharger site in Vacaville, California, before expansion [photo: George Parrott]

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Tesla said more urban areas will be graced with Supercharger stations and they will be placed in convenient areas for owners such as shopping centers, groceries stores, and other downtown districts.

The Supercharger network already provides far broader and more ubiquitous coverage than are present in the U.S. for either of the competing and slower DC fast-charging standards used by all other automakers.

Both the CHAdeMO standard used by Nissan and the Combined Charging System, or CCS, protocol—used by all U.S. makers except Tesla and all German makers—are presently capped at 50 kilowatts, though plans are underway to raise that limit substantially for both standards.

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Since the urban charge times are slightly longer, Tesla believes placing the urban Supercharger stations in high-traffic areas will allow owners to run errands or do other tasks while their vehicle charges.

As the number of Supercharger stations rises, so will the number of Model 3 sedans, or perhaps it's vice-versa.

The affordable electric car is only being produced in small numbers currently, but Tesla has long said it hopes to be producing 5,000 electric cars each week by the end of December.

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