The 2012 Tesla Model S all-electric sedan isn’t due to roll off the production lines for another 8 months, but Tesla CEO Elon Musk wants the world to know that the Californian-based automaker is already putting plans in place to ensure that Model S owners won't be running out of charge.
Earlier this year at the official launch of the 2012 Model S Sedan, Musk said that Tesla was planning on installing ultra-rapid charging stations along major arterial freeways such as the I-5 between Canada and Mexico, but declined to give specifics.
But in an official Tesla earnings call last week, Musk let slip where the first of these ultra-rapid charging stations would be: somewhere between San Francisco and Los Angeles.
During the earnings call, Musk joked that the the massively powerful “Supercharger” 90 kilowatt charging stations looked a little like an advanced alien artifact, reiterating that the stations could easily add as much as 150 miles of range to a 2012 Model S in under 30 minutes.
2012 Tesla Model S Charging Connector
With the top-specification 2012 Model S Sedan capable of a massive 300 miles per charge, we think the first SuperCharger will most likely be stationed at a hotel or rest-stop mid-way along the I-5 between SanFrancisco and Los Angeles.
However, even by the shortest route, the distance between the two cities is nearly 400 miles, meaning that an equidistant SuperCharger would be no use to owners of Model S sedans with smaller 160 or 230-mile battery packs.
And while most of Tesla’s current orders are for Model S Sedans complete with 300-mile battery pack option, expect Tesla to install multiple SuperChargers along the I-5 route to cater for drivers of lower-range Model S sedans.
2012 Tesla Model S beta vehicle, Fremont, CA, October 2011
Unlike other automakers which have been relying on third-party companies to provide level 2 and direct current rapid charging infrastructure for their cars, Tesla seems to be proactively working to ensure that charging infrastructure for its luxury seven-seat sedan is provided even before it launches.
But because the 2012 Tesla Model S will use a proprietary charging connector rather than the standardized J1772 and Chademo connectors already found in other parts of the U.S., the SuperChargers will only be useful for Tesla owners.
That’s not so great for owners of other cars with rapid-charging features, such as the 2012 Nissan Leaf and 2012 Mistuibishi i. Although both cars are capable of recharging to 80% full in under an hour to give between 50 and 80 miles of useful range using a 50 kilowatt charger, they will remain incompatible with Tesla’s proprietary equipment.
That is, until someone figures out how to harness the quirky Tesla Super-Charging connector with a suitable Chademo adaptor, a little like a reverse version of the J1772 to Tesla-Roadster charge adaptor.
Until then, if you want to regularly travel between Los Angeles and San Francisco in an electric car, you’ll want to buy a Tesla Model S -- or be prepared for a long wait while you recharge.