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Tesla Supercharger network gets a rough test with Thanksgiving travels

Thanksgiving is the busiest travel time in the US and it serves as a great stress test for electric vehicle charging architecture, like Tesla’s Supercharger network.

It is especially important this year with the rapid expansion of Tesla’s fleet due to Model 3, which is putting even more pressure on the network.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk recently announced another expansion of the Supercharger network in order to cover “95% to 100% of the population in all active markets.”

The network is already quite extensive and Tesla drivers can travel almost anywhere in many countries in North America, Europe, and Asia, but the limited number of charge points per station can create some wait lines.

It’s especially difficult in California where Tesla’s fleet has grown faster with the Model 3 production ramp up.

As we reported earlier this week, Tesla sales grew by almost 400% in California this year.

Nico Wirz reported a long line of Model 3’s waiting for a spot at the Burbank Supercharger yesterday:

On Tuesday, Kevin Sanchez reported 8 cars waiting to charge at the Culver City Supercharger, which is one of the bigger ones with 16 charge points:

Northern California is also getting some significant traffic this week. The Concord Supercharger, which has 19 Superchargers, was also full on a few occasions this week:

Tesla apparently took some precautions at high traffic stations by limiting the time you could charge to 40 minutes.

Many owners reported seeing those posters:

The vast majority of charging sessions at Supercharger stations take less than 40 minutes, but it can take more time to get a full charge depending on your state of charge.

It could change with the Supercharger V3 coming ‘early next year’. The new generation of the charging station should bring a higher charger rate.

Tesla says that it currently operates 1,375 Supercharger Stations with 11,414 Superchargers worldwide.

Electrek’s Take

I understand that it is frustrating when you arrive at a Supercharger station and you have to wait to charge, but I think Tesla is doing the most of anyone to fix the situation.

Unlike third-party companies who have to try to optimize the use of their stations as much as they can, Tesla has been willing to build charging stations that see less than 20% use most of the time just to make sure they can handle the capacity when traffic is higher.

A good example is the Kettleman City station, which has 40 charge points. It reportedly wasn’t full all week – though it was shown as being temporarily down one day.

Anticipating higher use this week, Tesla even had a mobile technician on site to help out any owner if they have issues.

Like Elon said this week, they plan to double the size of the network, but it’s only part of the solution.

Supercharger V3 is also going to make a big difference. If vehicles charge faster, they are going to stay at the stations for shorter periods of time and that’s going to help with traffic.

If the new generation, which has been delayed 3 times already, finally comes early next year, I think it’s going to be easier for Tesla drivers during next year’s Thanksgiving travels.

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