Tesla offers a provisional schedule for the expansion of its network of Superchargers each year. Once is not custom, in January 2021, it was the case, but the way of displaying the sites to come has changed a lot. Will the manufacturer meet the posted deadlines?
For 7 years now, Tesla has had its network of proprietary fast charging stations in France: Superchargers. Several developments have appeared over the years, and the network continues to grow. We will detail the forecasts for the current year, and see if Tesla finally meets the dates indicated.
A welcome change in planning
For the first time since the start, when announcing its provisional opening schedule for the current year, Tesla posted opening dates by quarter. Indeed, until now, the rule was simple: all Superchargers which were planned by the manufacturer were displayed with an opening date corresponding to the current year.
It was therefore not uncommon to check the Tesla site at the end of December to see where the deployment was, to end up with dozens of new Superchargers announced as going to open before the end of the year. Many owners had long complained about this catastrophic communication, which had the effect of disappointing some users.
Big day for Tesla today with all these supercharger installations before next year 🤭 pic.twitter.com/Ft0Ntb3Wvi
— Bob Jouy (@bobjouy) December 31, 2020
As things evolve over time at Tesla, the way of communicating about Supercharger openings has changed a lot. In January 2021, for all Superchargers in the world that are planned, the forecast dates are now quarterly, with some sites planned for the first, second, third or fourth quarter of 2021.
Superchargeurs V2, V3 : quésaco ?
Before going any further, remember that there are currently two types of Superchargers, which are usually referred to as V2 and V3. V2 Superchargers have two cables on each stall : a “modified” Type 2 for the old Model S and Model X, and a CCS Combo for the rest, in particular the Model 3.
The V2 work by “pair of terminals” and are numbered 1A / 1B, 2A / 2B, etc. Each pair has a power supply of 150 kW. If you are alone on pair 1 (for example you are in 1A, and there is no one in 1B), you will have 150 kW available for you.
If someone is plugged into the same pair as you, there are two cases:
- If the person already plugged in takes more than 75 kW and your car can take more than 75 kW, when you plug in its power drops to 75 kW, and you also have 75 kW available to you.
- If the person already connected takes less than 75 kW, nothing changes for him, and you benefit from 150 kW. From this power, you must subtract what the other user consumes (if he loads at 50 kW for example, you will have the right to 100 kW available).
Once the two cars are plugged in, it will work as a communicating vessel based on the two cases above. When the load of one of the two will drop below 75 kW, the available surplus will go to the other car connected to the same pair.
Since 2020, the new Superchargers installed are V3s, which have two advantages over V2s: the maximum power available per terminal is 250 kW, and there is no power sharing between terminals.
So on a V3 Supercharger, you don’t have to think about where you plug in to get the best possible charging power. It does not matter. You can tune in next to a car that’s currently charging without fear. These V3 Superchargers only have one CCS Combo Cable, which is thinner than on the V2, and which is actively cooled by water.
A rather calm year 2020
For France, in 2020, nine Superchargers were opened. The year 2020 was special because it was the first time that Tesla installed V3 Superchargers (up to 250 kW per terminal) in France. Until now, Superchargers were limited to 150 kW, and France had 86 sites at the start of 2021. We indicate below the evolution of the network in France since 2014.
- 2020: 9 Superchargers open
- 2019: 9 Superchargers open
- 2018: 4 Superchargers open
- 2017: 17 Superchargers open
- 2016: 19 Superchargers open
- 2015: 14 Superchargers open
- 2014: 14 Superchargers open
In previous years, Tesla had indeed opened more Superchargers in France than in 2020, but this is quite easily explained. Indeed, it is more interesting for Tesla to deploy a site entirely composed of V3 Superchargers: the charging is faster, so the owners will be more satisfied with the network.
However, this requires the production of V3 Superchargers. And this is where it got stuck: Tesla was unable to keep up. The recent opening of a factory dedicated to the manufacture of V3 Superchargers in Asia makes it possible to catch up a little, with a target of 10,000 terminals manufactured each year.
During the year 2020, Tesla aimed to open only V3 Superchargers. Of the nine that have been set up in France, only one site is a V2 Supercharger (Buchelay, opened in February 2020). The other eight sites (Angoulême, Les Herbiers, Périgueux, Montluçon, Labouheyre, Tinqueux, Aire de la Vendée and Niort) are all V3 Superchargers.
33 Superchargers promised, only 9 openings in 2020
It may sound very correct, but at the start of 2020, Tesla was promising 33 openings before the following year, bringing the total to 110 Superchargers nationwide. A year later, the count is far behind with only 86 sites. Therefore, when the manufacturer announced that it was planning 29 new Superchargers in France in 2021, which is as many as what was built between June 2017 and December 2020, skepticism was in order.
2021: the year of renewal
For the moment, it is clear that Tesla is on schedule for the current year. Among the five Superchargers planned for the first quarter of 2021, four are open, and the last is under construction.
- Nice: 16 V3 Superchargers (January 7, 2021)
- Vélizy – Villacoublay: 16 V3 Superchargers (January 28, 2021)
- Chambéry: 2 x 12 Superchageurs V3 (March 28, 2021)
- Dardilly : 16 Superchargeurs V3 (16 mars 2021)
- Parly 2: Still in progress (March 31, 2021)
As for the rest of the year, the second semester should be busy with ten planned openings:
- Bordeaux East
- Savigny in Terre-Plaine
- Toulouse Blagnac
Some sites have already taken the lead, for example with Savigny en Terre-Plaine, where the building permit has already been identified on site.
In the third quarter, eight Superchargers are planned:
Finally in the fourth quarter of the year, six openings are expected:
- Little North
- Saint Etienne
An upgrade of the existing fleet
In addition to the openings of new sites planned, Tesla took advantage of the beginning of the year 2021 to enlarge certain Superchargers, as is sometimes the case. The Caen site thus received four additional terminals, still in V2 at 150 kW. One of the Aix-en-Provence Superchargers has received four 250 kW V3 terminals.
For the moment, the use of Superchargers is still reserved exclusively for the brand, making this network a very strong argument against the competition. Indeed, while the entire fleet of electric cars can be recharged on fast terminals deployed by IONITY or Total Recharge, the Tesla are the queens of long-distance travel thanks to their ability to recharge on these networks in addition to the network of Superchargers.
With sites now opening up to 12 to 16 charging stations from the start, Tesla Superchargers are indeed the benchmark for charging electric vehicles. For comparison, IONITY, which is available for the rest of the EV fleet, typically only offers 4-6 charging points per site.
Towards an opening of Superchargers to other manufacturers?
So, the question is legitimate: does Tesla plan to open its proprietary network to other electric vehicles? This makes sense, because apart from a few rare days in the year, there is no observed saturation. With V3 Superchargers, since there is only one CCS port and there is no power sharing, allowing other vehicles to plug in would have little impact on drivers. current Tesla owners.
When the network of Superchargers is sufficiently developed in Europe, it would be surprising if it was still reserved for Tesla. Between having a few hundred completely empty terminals every day, or securing a greater source of income through the use of Superchargers by electric vehicles from other car manufacturers, Tesla has every interest in choosing the second solution.
But this will require the communication campaign to be particularly well conducted, showing potential Tesla customers that they will have an advantage in having a brand car over others. We can already imagine preferential rates for vehicles from the Californian manufacturer, thus allowing owners to better accept the opening to competition.
However, we are probably still far from the time when everyone can come and connect to a Tesla Supercharger. In addition to the necessary CCS port, we notice that the cable located on a Supercharger is very short, in fact preventing many vehicles from parking properly to be able to charge in the reserved spaces.
Perhaps an adapter will be needed so that other brands can take advantage of Tesla’s network, or the vehicles have been designed with the use of Superchargers in mind from the start. The future will undoubtedly answer this question, if and when Tesla decides to open its network to everyone.