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Tesla Superchargers: The Charging Chicken And Egg Problem

I have previously covered how Tesla (TSLA) can make profits from Supercharging. In that analysis, I used my own estimates for usage of the Superchargers and energy consumption per charge. Since that article, there has been was a discussion thread at Tesla forums about actual supercharger usage numbers. Commenters have also presented me with numbers of the actual energy consumption by the Supercharger network from a Tesla dashboard. With this article, I hope to present a more accurate picture of Supercharger profits and I will also discuss their technical and deployment planning superiority to other charging networks.

At last count, the average supercharger uses were 2 per month or 24/year. Also up until December 21 2013, Tesla had delivered about 2.2 million kWh. Since a lot of Teslas were not on the road for the whole year, I will assume double this usage for about 24,000 cars being on the road for a whole year. In this case, annual consumption would be 4.4 million kWh. In the discussion thread, some Tesla owners said they hadn’t used a Supercharger because there wasn’t one near them. Others said they hadn’t used one because they didn’t need to. After nationwide deployment, if we assume that supercharger usage will double as more people start using the network, we have annual consumption of 8.8 million kWh.

Using a national average of 10.3c/kWh for commercial electricity rates, we have $906,400$ worth of electricity used annually for 24,000 cars on the road. So for every Tesla on the road, we have a cost of $38/year. For simplicity and a margin of safety, I’ll round this up to $50/year/car. Over a lifetime of 20 years, this would cost Tesla about $1000.
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