Tesla’s new Supercharger slashes charging times

Tesla is rolling out a third-generation Supercharger that is designed to dramatically cut charging times for its electric vehicles as it seeks to keep its edge over new competitors.

The V3 Supercharger, which was unveiled Wednesday at the company’s Fremont, Calif. factory, supports a peak rate of up to 250 kilowatts on the long-range version of the Model 3. At this rate, the V3 can add up to 75 miles of range in 5 minutes, Tesla said.

Improvements to charging times are critical for the company as it sells more Model 3 vehicles, its highest volume car. Wait times at some popular Supercharger stations can be lengthy. Early adopters might have been content to wait, but as new Tesla customers come online that patience could dwindle.

Tesla says its improvements will allow the Supercharger network to serve more than twice as many vehicles per day at the end of 2019 compared with today.

The V3 is not a retrofit of the company’s previous generations. It’s an architecture shift that includes a new 1 MW power cabinet, similar to the company’s utility-scale products, and a liquid-cooled cable design, which enables charge rates of up to 1,000 miles per hour. Tesla uses air-cooled cables on V2 Superchargers.

The new power cabinet will provide a dedicated 250 kW to four Superchargers. This means that vehicles will no longer power share when charging.

Tesla announced other improvements in a blog post, including ones aimed at improving charging rates for its Model S and Model X vehicles. When combined with the V3 Supercharger, the time spent charging is slashed by an average of 50 percent, Tesla said.

A new software feature called “On Route Battery Warmup” will also be released for all vehicles. This update prepares the battery pack to accept that vehicle’s peak power for the longest possible time, reducing average charge time by 25 percent, the company said.

Tesla plans to open thousands of V2 and V3 Superchargers in 2019. The V3 stations, which Tesla will begin installing in April, will be placed where there’s the highest use. Tesla has more than 12,000 Superchargers across North America, Europe and Asia, according to the company.

Tesla plans to update its V2 Superchargers, as well, to provide a new peak charge rate of 145 kW for single-vehicle charging.

Tesla will roll out V3 Supercharging to the wider fleet of vehicles — meaning beyond the long-range Model 3s — to all owners in the second quarter. The company plans to ramp up V3 installations in North America in the second and third quarters. The V3 installations will begin in Europe and Asia-Pacific in the fourth quarter.