Tesla unveils super-charge network plan, delivers first EVs

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US electric vehicle maker Tesla presented the keys to the first eight owners of the Model S car in Australia on Tuesday, and announced details of its first super-charged network along the east coast of the country.

The first two super-charging stations will be at the St Leonards (northern Sydney) retail and service store, which opens its doors on Wednesday, and at the Star Casino in Sydney.

A network will be built in 2015, linking Sydney, Canberra and Melbourne, and providing the 500km-range Tesla Model S with fast-charging stations every 200kms or so. The stations can charge 50 per cent within 20 minutes.

The network will be extended to Brisbane and the Sunshine Coast in 2016. Tesla confirmed that where possible, the super-charging stations will be powered by solar. It is yet to reveal the exact locations, but Goulburn and Albury Wodonga, and oner towns on the way, are certainties. (Click on graph to enlarge)

tesla map

The first Australian recipients of the Model S at the launch event at Star Casino were internet entrepreneur Simon Hackett, Andew Leighton, Cameron Brown, John Wall, James Taylor,  David Bornstein, oil industry executive Arthur Nommensen, Matthew Baird and David Higginbottom.

Solar pioneer David Mills was to receive his on Tuesday but was away and will collect his next week. We interview him on this story to see why he is using Tesla to test his theories about the energy home of the future, with solar and storage.

As for the other proud owners, and would-be owners, it was hardly surprising that they should be so gushing about their new Model S (price over $100,000, some of them close to $200,000), but it was interesting to see what motivated some of the buyers.

The Canadian-born Leighton, the head of international paper giant Norske Skog in Australia, said he bought the Tesla because he fell in love with its technology. He described it as the most innovative automobile to com out of America since the Ford Model T.

“It will revolutionise cars and I want to be part of that,” Leighton told RenewEconomy.

“I am more of a tech guy, more a sports car enthusiast. I was looking at an Audi RS5, but chose this. I am buying a very high performance car that happens to be electric, rather than saying I wanted to go electric.”

So, will this turn Leighton green?

“I am green. But if you ask most people if they are green, if they go to the supermarket and pay more, most people wouldn’t. I am willing to pay more because this is a performance product. As it happens, the Tesla accelerates quicker than the BMW and Audi, and it costs less.

“That’s the brilliance of their strategy, they have gone to higher end, and make it a great car, and now they can move down the chain with an everyday car.”

He, like David Mills and others, will charge the car with solar, as soon as he gets a system.

David Griffin, the head of development at listed renewable energy company Infigen Energy, said he was not a car buff at all, but he was won over after having a test drive two months ago.

“It is a phenomenal machine. It is not a car, it is a machine,” he told RenewEconomy.

“There are so many elements that attractive to me – fuel security, getting off liquid fuels. The average Tesla buyer would have zero interest of consuming electricity from fossil fuels, and we are in process of installing solar (his home renovations will be “loaded to eyeballs with solar)”

Griffin will be dumping his “horribly large SUV” for the Tesla, which he expects to get next August. “It gives me that self sufficiency. It is clean and I defy anyone to drive a Tesla and not feel the future.”  

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  • Marka

    I’m a little surprised that they didn’t add in and Adelaide connection into their plans

    • RobS

      They will, but compared to the volume of traffic moving between Sydney and Melbourne road travel from Melbourne to Adelaide is small bikkies.

  • Petra Liverani

    I had zero interest in cars until Tesla came along and I was very excited to attend the launch last night. Funnily enough though, as I sat in the back of a stationary Model S last night while a Tesla person explained all the controls to the owner, I thought, “God, this feels like work where either someone’s explaining software to me or I’m explaining it to someone else.” Of course, actually driving it would be a completely different matter. Tesla welcome everyone to have a test drive.

  • Rob

    Welcome to Australia Tesla! Maybe our government fleet could be made up of Teslas so our politicians could experience first hand what the future could look like if they would just get off their arses and grow a brain between them. The Great Energy Transition is coming and an important part of it will be de-carbonising our transport.

    • Goldie444

      Yes, welcome to Tesla to Australia, but don’t forget the other EV’s on the market and available in Australia. The Nissan LEAF is a great EV and an electric charging highway throughout Australia would see the LEAF and other EV’s a common sight throughout Australia. An EV is the ideal car for the 2nd family car. I purchased a PHEV Outlander in June 2014, and while this hybrid vehicle uses fossil fuel as well electrons, it was the only choice I had when I live in regional Victoria and the closest charging point was 140 kms away. As my daily commute is in the 30 to 40 km range, so most of my driving is on electrons. I welcome the development of an electric highway.

  • Mark Melocco

    Now that the cars are on the road more people will see them in use as a real alternative to fossil burners. I may have to start a test ride appointment book when mine arrives later this month.

    • RobS

      When “sports car” owners start getting smoked off the lights by silent EVs the real interest will star to pique.

  • Miles Harding

    Tesla: the ‘Apple’ of the car industry.

    We should remember that the Tesla charge network only works with their cars, so it does little to enable de-carbonising of transit, something we need to be doing with urgency. A public charge network for everything else will have to be developed in parallel.

    I drive an EV and find it entertaining how so many people can become fixated on needing to drive 300+km on a single charge when their own use of motor vehicles almost entirely consists of sitting in traffic jams and going slower than they can walk.!

    The tesla’s battery life is probably about 10 years, at which point a $20,000* replacement will be needed. Is an 85 kWh battery really a good idea?

    Many of us solve EV range limitations by using an ICE vehicle for those rare occasions that the mission is outside the capabilities of the EV.

    * This assumes $200 or so per kWh.

    • Ronald Brakels

      It is a luxury car. It’s not for people with economy on their minds except in the sense that it is probably a much better deal than a lot of other luxury cars out there. Personally I just don’t get luxury cars. They spend so much money on making the cars go fast and giving them a smoother ride when the two things are mutually contradictory from a driver’s perception. If they just made the ride rougher so everything started to rattle and shake when it hit say 60, then its apparent speed would seem much higher and they wouldn’t need to bother making it faster. If only BMW, Ferrari, Porche, etc. had only spoken to me first they could have saved so much money by not heading down the heading down the smooth ride dead end.

      • Warwick

        Obviously not a car buff…acceleration and a smooth ride are not mutually exclusive. The challenge is the compromise between ride and handling. i.e comfort vs sticking to the road. The Tesla handles well for a car of its size and mass because its heavy batteries are in the floor giving it a low centre of gravity. On your basis of rattle and shake, then your local bus should seem very fast…

        • Ronald Brakels

          No, the bus rattles and shakes much the same when it is stationary as when it is moving. The rattling and shaking (and ideally parts falling off) should increase with speed to enhance one’s perceptions off it. I have designed a electromechanical haptic feedback system for cars to meet this need, but unfortunately I have been too busy performing comedy in internet comment sections to put it into production.

          • Warwick

            Perhaps an app for that? Ferrari V12 engine sound that increases at twice the rate of real acceleration… Also, linked to your bus app and makes the sound of a F1 car at full tilt if you just miss your bus…

          • Ronald Brakels

            Personally, I find a pneumatic jackhammer slaved to an accelerometer and allowed to roll around in the back of the car works much better. However, trials have demonstrated the importance of removing the hammer part of jackhammer first.

  • Ronald Brakels

    Does anyone know if the Australian Tesla will be able to take full advantage of European/Australian current? That is, if I plug it into a standard power point will the battery pack be able to charge at the rate of 2+ kilowatt-hours an hour? Because if it does that’s going to be very handy out in Western Australia, South Australia, Tasmania, and the Nothern Territory where there will be no supercharger stations for a while.

    • Michael Brown

      With the Tesla wall connector,if you have a single charger in the car you will get a 40-48km/h (40Amp) charge rate. If you buy 2 chargers it increases to 100km/h 80Amp).

      • Ronald Brakels

        Unfortunately if I drive from Adelaide to Canberra I won’t be able to use a wall charger unless there is a nice person on the way who will let me use theirs. Actually, if the Tesla could take full advantage of Euro/Aussie current from a normal power point I wouldn’t need a wall connector as in my normal life I almost never drive more than the 100+ kilometers of range that overnight charging from a standard power point would give. Of course, if I can afford a Tesla I’m probably not going to be worried about the cost of a wall connector. But whether I have a wall connector or not, being able to take full advantage of the power supplied by normal power points would be very useful, particularly if one is in an area that as yet doesn’t have a supercharger network.

    • Ronald Brakels

      I’ve answered my own question by test stealing a Tesla. Apparently it has no problems taking advantage of Australian current.

  • Aussie Yank

    Tesla, it is about time! We moved from the States about five years ago and have been more than jealous that the car was available there, but not here.

    However, as with all things, patience. It was worth the wait. Just ordered a P85D with all the trimmings, but still have to wait till July.

    Unlike all the other “high-end” German cars, the Tesla is not double or triple the USD price. In fact as the exchange rate continues to drop, the car might well be cheaper here that the US (in American dollars) when I get delivery

    Musk’s vision is amazing. He is not out to just make a car, but change the world. Free super charging–no fuel cost. 450-500Km range. Sleek. All the accouterments (leather, display, internet mapping, internet music, safety, speed, quietness, etc) AND then an open patent portfolio. Share the knowledge, create more competitors. Use solar.

    Welcome to Oz….can’t wait

  • Peter Gray

    I’d love to see EVs succeed, but they seem a ways off from competing with ICEs on cost. There’s a reason EV makers are a bit cagey (or at least highly optimistic) about battery replacement cost. If the Tesla pre-paid replacement warranty pans out, it has a future value cost to the owner of $13,400 at 5% interest, if the battery fails in 6 years, just before it hits 200,000 km, then it still has a higher fuel cost, not counting electricity, than a 30 mpg gas car at $US3/gallon. That would mean close to 600 charge cycles, rather optimistic for Li-ion under ideal conditions (no hot weather). If the battery costs $40k after 10 years, and consumes utility power, total fuel cost is 2.5 to 3 times more than for an ICE.

    That’s not horribly out of line, but not much of a bargain,
    unfortunately. If the rest of an EV is far more durable than a similar
    ICE car, that might make up for a lot of the operating cost difference.
    Could be true; time will tell.

    It seems likely that batteries will average considerably shorter cycle limits under harsh road conditions, making the comparison even worse. Tesla is playing a smart game by persuading owners to front the money for their future battery replacement. If their consumer base continues at a rapid growth rate, they might be able to keep this up for a fair number of years. It will be interesting to see whether this ultimately looks like a pyramid scheme.

    • Goldie444

      Peter your figures are way off. EV’s are cheaper to run now compared to ICE’s.
      Was this a toll? – starting off saying you love ’em, then add very cut & paste bad comment found on the Internet.