As traditional automakers scramble to catch up, Tesla Motors is installing a third generation of fast-chargers across United States and Canada.
Tesla says it has more than 12,000 "Superchargers" across North America, Europe and Asia. Its latest offering, the V3 Supercharger, now expands on that network.
The third-gen station can charge a Model 3 sedan at rates of up to 250 kilowatts, making it possible to gain 120 kilometres — or 75 miles — of range in five minutes, the company says. In addition, the V3 chargers no longer split power when multiple cars are charging at the same station.
Tesla believes the new technology ultimately will cut by half the amount of time customers spend charging.
"V3 Supercharging enables us to deliver the fastest production charging experience at an unprecedented scale compared to other electric vehicle manufacturers," Tesla said when it announced the feature in a March blog. "By increasing the number of vehicles we're able to charge at each Supercharger in a day, the investment we're making in our network will go significantly further with every V3 station deployed."
While V3 is an improvement over its second-generation chargers, they're not the fastest on the market. Electrify America, a wholly owned subsidiary of Volkswagen Group of America that's creating a competitive set of chargers, offers stations that can charge at rates up to 350 kW.
But Tesla still has an upper hand on expertise, since customers have plugged in to a Tesla fast-charger more than 30 million times since the first one debuted in 2012, according to The Verge. Tesla says its network handles an average of 64,000 sessions per day and doles out a total of about 2.25 GWh of energy daily.
A Tesla spokesman did not respond to a request for comment about how many V3 chargers have been installed. The Verge reported that a few have been installed in Canada, California and Las Vegas. Global News reported in October that eight new V3 chargers were installed in a Canadian Tire parking lot in Regina.
Tesla's ambitious plans for its charging infrastructure haven't entirely lived up to the promises of CEO Elon Musk. When the first station was installed, he promised Model S owners "the ability to drive almost anywhere for free on pure sunlight." The company has since implemented a fee.
Still, the automaker has lapped the field in terms of developing and implementing a robust infrastructure, experts say.
"Tesla was really the first ... pure EV company," Karl Brauer, executive publisher of Autotrader and Kelley Blue Book, told Automotive News. "They had every incentive to focus on and invest in a very comprehensive charging infrastructure."
Range anxiety continues to be a top inhibitor to EV purchases. As a way to dispel those fears, Ford Motor Co., for example, rolled out plans for its own charging network a month before introducing its first long-range EV.
Before EVs can gain wider adoption, customers must be able to charge them in the same amount of time it takes to stop and fill up at a gas station, Brauer asserts. That means a recharge of 10 minutes or less. "Tesla knows this, that's why they're pushing ahead in this area," he said.