Tesla plans to make an announcement about its Supercharger network on Thursday morning, but on Wednesday night at the AllThingsD D11 conference (our live blog here), Tesla CEO Elon Musk let the cat out of the bag early and said “What we were going to announce tomorrow is that there is going to be a dramatic expansion of the Supercharger network. By next month we’ll triple the coverage area.”
Superchargers are basically fast chargers that can charge up one of Tesla’s Model S cars in around 30 minutes (depending on how low the battery is). The idea is that because the market for electric cars is so new, there isn’t enough charging infrastructure out there to enable EV drivers the comfort of driving wherever they want, whenever they want — like taking a road trip up and down the state.
“Range anxiety is real,” said Musk at D11. That’s why Tesla has become an infrastructure provider as well as a car maker. The chargers have solar panels on them from Musk’s other company SolarCity, and Tesla has been building out the chargers along well trafficked long distance highways.
Until now most of the Superchargers had been installed on the coasts. But back in September 2012 Musk had said that within two years he wanted the U.S. to be covered in Superchargers. Tesla also wants to build them in Europe and Asia, too.
Currently Tesla has eight Superchargers, mostly in California. By the end of June, the count will have tripled, according to a Tesla press release issued Thursday. California will get more Superchargers, along with spots “from Vancouver to Seattle to Portland, Austin to Dallas in Texas, Illinois and Colorado.” Locations will also pop up on the northeast corridor and in Florida.
The Supercharger network will expand further over the next year to span the width of the nation, “covering almost the entire population of the U.S. and Canada,” according to the press release.
During a Thursday call with reporters, Musk said he’s looking forward to taking a road trip between Los Angeles and New York with his children at the end of this year. “I think it’ll be kind of fun to take my kids on that trip and show people in real time what you can really do with this whole system.”
More stations will come online later in the United States and Canada, with more than 200 stations planned in North America.
“I think we’ll probably end up doing more than even what’s shown here in 2015,” Musk said. Ultimately, he said, “I think it does mean quite a lot to people, to mainstream customers, to drive anywhere you want to go.”
Musk also announced that the maximum charge rate at Superchargers will increase from 90 kW to 120 kW. As a result, a Supercharger-enabled Tesla Model S could get two-thirds of a full recharge in a little over 20 minutes, Musk said.
Jordan Novet contributed to this report.