Tesla unveiled the third generation of its Supercharger charging stations during a customer event at its Fremont, California headquarters Wednesday evening. The new “V3” Supercharger is capable of charging some of the Model 3 at a rate of 250kW, which Tesla says is fast enough to add 75 miles of range in 5 minutes. Tesla says it will break ground on more V3 Superchargers in April.
The first V3 Supercharger station is now open in Fremont to members of Tesla’s “early access program,” a small group of owners that the company allows to test out things like new versions of its software. Once more start arriving in April, access to V3 Supercharging will “roll out to the wider fleet in an over the air firmware update to all owners in Q2 as more V3 Superchargers come online,” Tesla wrote in a blog post. V3 Superchargers will come to the European and Asia-Pacific markets in Q4, Tesla says.
The V3 Supercharger is a big improvement over Tesla’s V2 chargers, which have a max output of 150kW, but are capped at 120kW. But Tesla says that’s going to change, as V2 Superchargers will be updated to allow a peak charge rate of 145kW “over the coming weeks,” according to the blog post.
Tesla said Wednesday that it’s also rolling out a new feature this week called “On-Route Battery Warmup,” which the company says intelligently heats a car’s battery when the owner navigates to a Supercharger. This helps make sure the car arrives at the station with “the optimal temperature to charge,” Tesla says, and should reduce average charge times by 25 percent, according to the company.
Model 3s will be able to take full advantage of the new Supercharger capacity thanks to the car’s newer battery chemistry, while Model S and Model X will stay capped at 120kW for now. Tesla says it plans to increase Model S and Model X charging speeds in the following months via software updates, but the company didn’t say by how much.
Tesla’s third generation Superchargers fix one of the biggest complaints about the company’s current charging stations, which is that users can experience “power splitting,” or slower charging rates when many of the adjacent stalls are in use. The V3 Superchargers won’t have this problem, according to Tesla. The new Superchargers also have a built-in liquid coolant system to help make sure the higher-capacity stations don’t overheat or catch fire.
The extra capacity in Tesla’s V3 Superchargers will make it possible to charge the company’s cars faster, but the new Superchargers fall short of the 350kW capacity Volkswagen allows with its Electrify America charging stations. (Though Electrify America stations still experience some power splitting.) Volkswagen’s stations are also liquid-cooled, though concerns about the special cables used in Electrify America’s chargers led to a brief shutdown of the network earlier this year.
Tesla launched its first Supercharger station back in September 2012. Since then, company has opened 12,888 Superchargers at 1,441 stations around the world, at least at the time this article was published, and more are planned to open this year. With the new V3 Superchargers, and improvements to the company’s software (like the new On-Route feature), Tesla says it should be able to accommodate charging for all the new cars the company is putting on the road following the Model 3’s big year in 2018.