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Tesla just announced a milestone that could be a tipping point for electric cars

tesla model 3 at a supercharger station
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

It doesn’t matter how you feel about Tesla, or the man in charge of the company. There’s no denying how impressive the Tesla Supercharger network is. The sheer scale of things is especially impressive, and it looks like Tesla isn’t slowing down its expansion anytime soon.

According to Tesla’s Q2 earnings call (opens in new tab) it constructed 247 new Supercharger stations, with a total of 2,508 individual charging stalls. As Inside EVs (opens in new tab) notes, the number of new locations is 8% lower than this time last year, but the number of new chargers is 5% more. 

Combined with the fact Tesla has been ending Supercharger exclusivity, and allowing non-Teslas to use the network, means this amount of growth could be the tipping point for electric car charging infrastructure.

Overall, Tesla has 3,971 Supercharger locations across the world, with 36,165 individual chargers. That’s an average of 9.1 chargers at each location, which is more than some of the competing charging networks can say, and means there’s a much better chance of there being a free Supercharger bay when you arrive.

The only downside to this news is that Tesla doesn’t specify where the new Superchargers have been built. Earlier this month (opens in new tab) it was revealed that around half the Supercharger network is made up of Chinese and European chargers, with a respective 1,200 and 800 locations.

By the end of last year Tesla had around 1,200 Supercharger locations in the United States, and its map (opens in new tab) shows that new locations are due to open over the course of the next year. So it’s not as though Tesla’s home turf is missing out on account of the automaker’s international ambitions.

But if you are after a Supercharger, you will be better off being near big cities, or closer to the east and west coasts of the country. That’s where the highest concentration of Supercharger locations seem to be. Because that’s where all the people (and cars) tend to be.

Tesla is leading the way

Geography aside, the expansion of the Supercharger network is showing exactly how fast we can adapt to the growing popularity of electric cars. Chargers may not have the same numbers of time convenience as gas stations, but that is changing — and quickly.

The key example is that the number of Supercharger stations and individual chargers is up by 34% since this time last year. Plus, those chargers are slowly losing their exclusivity, and this growth will benefit all EV drivers — not just the ones that own Teslas.

The move to open Superchargers to non-Teslas has already started in Europe and is expected to start in the U.S. before the end of the year. Tesla CEO Elon Musk claims it’ll eventually be the case everywhere Superchargers are found.

Tesla’s far from the only car charging network out there. Electrify America, which has 800 charging locations in North America, has announced plans to increase that number to 1,800 (opens in new tab) by 2026. That’ll offer over 10,000 individual chargers to EV drivers across the U.S. and Canada.

Meanwhile, EVgo has partnered with General Motors (opens in new tab) to install 3,250 chargers before the end of 2025. That doesn’t sound like a lot at first glance, but the original plan was to build 2,750 — meaning it's a noticeable improvement. Back in early 2020 ChargePoint also pledged $1 billion (opens in new tab) to deploy new chargers at 4,000 locations along highways and in rural areas.

In other words, it’s a great time to drive an electric car, because it’s getting even easier to find somewhere to plug in and recharge. Not to mention the fact that battery range seems to be improving with each new generation of vehicles.

Change is happening, but more can be done

Granted, there’s still plenty that can be done. Move away from the big cities and off the major highways, and EV charging infrastructure seems to be severely lacking.

Looking at PlugShare’s map (opens in new tab) of EV chargers shows just how problematic this is in places. States like Montana, North Dakota and South Dakota do have EV charging infrastructure, but there are still huge areas of all three states without a single publicly-available car charger.

Somehow I doubt that they have the same trouble with gas stations, and it shows that as far as EV charging infrastructure has come more still needs to be done — even for basic access.

Charging speed is also something to worry about, because recharge times aren't as fast as filling up a tank of gas. But things are improving pretty rapidly. Some cars are capable of handling charging speeds up to 350kW, and Tesla itself is said to be upgrading Superchargers to handle even faster speeds.

Currently V3 Superchargers top out at 250kW, while V2 Superchargers come in at 150kW. According to recent reports Tesla is set to upgrade that top speed to 300kW in the near future, or if some rumors are to be believed 324kW. Not to mention the fact that upgraded V4 Superchargers are also supposedly on the way.

It’s going to take a bit of time before we’re at the point where charging is as ubiquitous and convenient as gas stations currently are. But enough progress is happening to give us something to be hopeful for.

Read next: The average price of an electric car just rose to $66K — should you be worried?

Tom Pritchard
Tom Pritchard

Tom is the Tom's Guide's Automotive Editor, which means he can usually be found knee deep in stats the latest and best electric cars, or checking out some sort of driving gadget. It's long way from his days as editor of Gizmodo UK, when pretty much everything was on the table. He’s usually found trying to squeeze another giant Lego set onto the shelf, draining very large cups of coffee, or complaining that Ikea won’t let him buy the stuff he really needs online. 

  • Haggemano
    This doesn't consider how superchargers are used in real life. You are not better off being in big cities. On any given route, even on remote areas, there will have to be chargers within a certain number of miles to make the route drivable, not to fulfill local demand. So there might be a station with no houses within 25 miles, where there are three chargers and rarely more than one in use. Adding more at this point would accomplish nothing. Locals simply won't charge there.

    There are other stations that are where few people live, that might have 50 chargers, and are on heavily used long distance routes.

    And there are urban areas with lots of Teslas, with many chargers per station, where all of them are around 95% used during most of the day. You'd use the navigator to pick a nearby location that shows several chargers not in use rather than heading to a full one to wait for an opening.

    It's places like the Bay Area and Los Angeles where the most stations exist and you'd be most likely to encounter a full one. More stations are needed in such areas because of the constant threat of demand exceeding supply.

    The average number of chargers per station is irrelevant.
    Reply
  • subnuke678
    admin said:
    Tesla's about to hit a major milestone that shows just how much electric car charging infrastructure is improving.

    Tesla just announced a milestone that could be a tipping point for electric cars : Read more
    I have loved Tom's Guide for many years for their objective reviews of tech, but this report is anything but objective.

    Building on what Haggemano has already stated, it would take 50,000 charging stations just to populate the West Coast states alone. This is like touting taking a teaspoon of water out of the Atlantic Ocean and stating you are making a dent in the rising tides! Utterly laughable!!

    Also, stopping to charge means you're done travelling for that day. Where is the hotel within walking distance of the charging station? Until electric cars are just as mobile as a gasoline engine, it will never replace it. And that's no matter how many laws California passes dictating what can or can't be sold in California.

    The critical issue that no one is talking about with pure electric cars is that Li Ion gel battery packs are a hazardous material (HazMat)! And so is Graphene-Aluminum Ion (GMG) batteries. Despite contentions to the contrary, they are HazMat items which, at the end of life, must be reprocessed and disposed of with the same care as pretty much any other HazMat chemical.

    No one has EVER discussed the cost of disposing of the increasing number of hazardous materials being propagated by Tesla and every other EV manufacturer. If the U.S. and certain state governments weren't subsidizing these endeavors, there would not be any more EVs than 20 years ago because no auto manufacturer would build them. Pure electric cars just don't work well enough yet despite the nonsense proffered by this article!

    There is a genuine answer to the EV dilemma! The answer is Hydrogen Fuel Cell technology. If the rare earth catalyst problem can be solved, then we simply change fuel sources from Gasoline/Diesel to Hydrogen. Gas stations would change from Gas to Hydrogen, and everything could run exactly as before with the improved performance characteristics of electric with the clean output as desired.

    We should put more money into subsidizing the Hydrogen Fuel Cell problem rather than crippling everyone with cars that exist today.

    I would remind everyone that the government is supposed to be by the people, and for the people and not a form of indentured servitude as exhibited by most politicians today. 'It's our money, we just let you keep some of it.'

    Also, global warming is NOT the controversy! What its' causation is! Since all the existing mathematical models used to project runaway warming have proved to be false, I would summarily conclude that the model and/or suppositions are erroneous, and thereby fallacious. Perhaps humanity is NOT the cause, and alternative theories should be considered? Just as pure electric is not the long-term solution, maybe more realistic and attainable alternatives should be considered.
    Reply
  • ticobird
    admin said:
    Tesla's about to hit a major milestone that shows just how much electric car charging infrastructure is improving.

    Tesla just announced a milestone that could be a tipping point for electric cars : Read more
    I've been at this EV thing since March 2015 and have a lot of interest in seeing EV's succeed even in the face of huge, deep-pocket opposing special interests.
    Public DC EV Fast Charging as well as Level 2 Charging (free or not) are highly nuanced subjects. Despite it being in their own best interest to get involved especially on the local level, consumers are just now coming to grips with the EV reality in a begrudging sort of way. Convenience or location or time-of-day or type of charging or really anything that is relevant to you are all on the table for discussing. We're getting there but at this moment in time it seems like it's a horse race between constructing them fast enough, constructing them where people need/want them, the capital needed to execute the deployment plan effectively, and the fleet replacement rate from ICEV to EV (it bears noting that EV adoption is not happening uniformly across the world).
    Reply
  • skierpage
    subnuke678 said:
    it would take 50,000 charging stations just to populate the West Coast states alone.
    No, it takes electricity from a socket to charge EVs. There are billions of them already. The average driver only drives 40 miles a day and can recharge from 120V AC for their regular driving. Public charging stations are for long road trips, and for people who don't have access to a plug at home or work. There are millions of happy EV drivers already with the current infrastructure, more chargers will support more drivers.

    Also, stopping to charge means you're done travelling for that day.
    You're laughably ignorant. Pull up to a DC fast charger in a decent recent EV, get 200 miles of range in less than 25 minutes.

    The critical issue that no one is talking about with pure electric cars is that Li Ion gel battery packs are a hazardous material (HazMat)!
    You know what's far more hazardous than lithium-ion? Gasoline. Building a 1/2-ton battery to reduce the literally TONS of fossil fuel that a gasser burns through is definitely a win for the environment. You know what else is more hazardous than lithium-ion? The lead-ACID battery in every conventional car. Yet we manage to recycle 95+% of those. A dozen companies have started up to recycle EV batteries: American Battery Technology, Battery Resource, Brunp Recycling, Green Li-ion, Li-Cycle, Primobius, Redwood Materials, ReLIB, SMCC Recycling, Umicore, ... Their biggest problem is they can't scale up yet because the batteries are lasting longer than expected.

    If the U.S. and certain state governments weren't subsidizing these endeavors, there would not be any more EVs than 20 years ago because no auto manufacturer would build them. Pure electric cars just don't work well enough yet despite the nonsense proffered by this article!
    Again, millions of happy owners laugh at your assertions, and the long waiting list for every decent EV indicate demand is increasing. The federal tax credit to the buyer of an EV has run out for Tesla and GM, yet they still sell lots of EVs.

    There is a genuine answer to the EV dilemma! The answer is Hydrogen Fuel Cell technology. If the rare earth catalyst problem can be solved, then we simply change fuel sources from Gasoline/Diesel to Hydrogen. Gas stations would change from Gas to Hydrogen, and everything could run exactly as before with the improved performance characteristics of electric with the clean output as desired.
    Hydrogen fuel cell cars have failed. Even after California spent $100M building 40 H2 stations, sales of HFCVs are less than 1% of BEVs. Honda discontinued its Clarity Fuel Cell after abysmal sales; Hyundai and Toyota are both still selling a few thousand Nexos and Mirais, but both are spending far more on BEVs. Since the second-generation Mirai, no new hydrogen fuel cell car has been announced for production, while even Toyota is going to launch 30 BEVs by 2035 and transition Lexus to pure BEVs.

    We should put more money into subsidizing the Hydrogen Fuel Cell problem rather than crippling everyone with cars that exist today.
    No state is going to join California in blowing money on public refueling stations for exactly two car models. It's dead, Jim. And that is good for the environment, because it unavoidably takes 2.5 times as many solar panels and wind turbines to take the inefficient detour through green hydrogen than to put the renewable electricity straight into into an efficient recyclable battery.

    Also, global warming is NOT the controversy! What its' causation is! Since all the existing mathematical models used to project runaway warming have proved to be false,
    More utter garbage. The models in the early 1980s predicted warming, and we have undeniably observed the Earth's average temperature increasing about 0.15 - 0.20°C per decade since then. It is the deniers who have been WRONG for 40 years, blathering that "the heating is temporary" due to solar cycles, upper-atmoshpere heating, urban heat islands, volcanoes, etc.

    Human activities, primarily burning fossil fuels, have undeniably increased the concentration of greenhouse gases, primarily CO2, in the atmosphere. Basic high-school physics explains why they're called greenhouse gases: increase their concentration, and the atmosphere traps more of the infra-red radiation that Earth re-radiates when sunlight hits it, and therefore it warms. NOTHING ELSE explains the current warming. If any climate scientist had any other credible theory, the the trillion-dollar fossil fuel industries would be flying her all over the world to conferences explaining it.
    Reply