Tesla Motors is quietly getting ready for an electric-vehicle charging station that could be considered smarter than the drivers using it. The California-based automaker has applied for a number of patents (details here) in which its super-quick Superchargers would be programmable to better manage what Tesla hopes will be a mass influx of thirsty Model S (and Model X and, potentially, Model E) EVs. This company thinks big.

Among other things, the patents detail a charging station that has multiple charging ports and that can manage multiple charging stages. It can also do things like redirect power to either whichever car arrives first or, by measuring the batteries' respective states of charge, who needs it the most. Heck, there's even a provision where the system can redirect power according to the drivers' intended departure time, i.e. whomever says they're sticking around the longest gets last charge. If the station could also get drivers to be truthful about such things, that'd be a real accomplishment.

Tesla has already had a lot of success with its Supercharger network, which is now expansive enough to exclusively power a cross-country drive. Earlier this month, a couple of Model S vehicles went from Los Angeles to New York City using nothing but Superchargers and pulled off the trip in 76.5 hours (the blog posts are here). We're guessing those EVs may have broken the speed limit here or there, but don't quote us.


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  • 54 Comments
      Rotation
      • 10 Months Ago
      They've had these split chargers for months. Some of the 120kW chargers for example are 120kW split between two cars. If you are the only car at the charger or if the other is full, you get 120kW, otherwise you get half.
        Nick Kordich
        • 10 Months Ago
        @Rotation
        The most interesting form that's taken is the palletized Supercharger they've installed in Bethesda, MD: http://www.teslamotorsclub.com/showthread.php/26484-Supercharger-Bethesda-MD/page3 (via: http://insideevs.com/tesla-permits-for-supercharger-install-in-bethesda-maryland/) It's a split design - basically one Supercharger with two leads - that can be dropped into place with a forklift. There's still site prep and permits, but there are potential speed of deployment and cost savings (according to InsideEVs, the permit says the unit cost $35,000). It also allows Tesla to setup Superchargers to service areas affected by natural disaster or high-traffic events - sporting events and concerts, business or political conventions, etc.
          Rotation
          • 10 Months Ago
          @Nick Kordich
          If I were putting down 5 a week or whatever Tesla is, I'd do something like you see there. It should make things easier and cheaper. I'm just saying I'm not sure it will enable many temporary deployments.
          Nick Kordich
          • 10 Months Ago
          @Nick Kordich
          @Rotation - Neither should they really need temporary deployments, since the existing network (once it fills in) should provide sufficient coverage. I was just reflecting on it as being an option now and trying to consider the possibilities.
          Rotation
          • 10 Months Ago
          @Nick Kordich
          While it is cool, the difficulty of getting 120kW (90-135kW) power in a location means that adding them temporarily for high-traffic events is unlikely. Not unless they want to drop down a generator too and that kind of defeats the purpose.
          Joeviocoe
          • 10 Months Ago
          @Nick Kordich
          --"adding them temporarily for high-traffic events is unlikely" True.. but good for rapid deployment where getting a construction crew to trench and pour concrete is difficult.
      Brian H
      • 10 Months Ago
      A father-daughter pair (62 & 26) did it a few days before, taking a bit longer. A few SC stations completed for them while they were en route!
      Neil Blanchard
      • 10 Months Ago
      I hope that Tesla licenses Superchargers to Nissan, and VW, and Mitsubishi, and Mercedes, and BMW, etc. Even if they charge those drivers for the electricity. EV's need to stick together.
        Nick Kordich
        • 10 Months Ago
        @Neil Blanchard
        It doesn't seem likely. Nissan and Mitsubishi are committed to the Japanese CHAdeMO standard, while the German and US automakers have signed on to the SAE CCS standard. Tesla participated in developing the SAE standard, and although Supercharger uses a different plug, it's largely the same 'under the hood,' so to speak. As a result, the CHAdeMO-to-Tesla adapter is expensive, due to it being quite different, but a CCS-to-Tesla adapter should be relatively simple. It may still be bulky, due to the size of the CCS plug, but it's similar in the important ways for producing an adapter. As to licensing, the question is what that would entail. If it means allowing other manufacturers' cars to charge at Supercharger stations, you'd be increasing the risk of a Tesla owner having to wait to charge because of another brand using the spot. There isn't much contention for Supercharger spots now (it's happened, but it's not common), but there's an ever-increasing number of the Model S on the road. That will climb with the Model X and climb much more steeply with the Model E. Adding Fords, Chevys, BMWs, Mercedes, VWs, Mitsubishis and Nissans to the list would potentially to make things considerably worse. At this time, Nissan seems to be the only one taking charging infrastructure seriously, and they are firmly committed to CAHdeMO.
          Joeviocoe
          • 10 Months Ago
          @Nick Kordich
          Howdy neighbor.. Last time at Harris, only one stall was occupied.
          Rotation
          • 10 Months Ago
          @Nick Kordich
          Joeeviocoe: SF Bay Area. I assure you there is charging contention all up and down the original I-5 deployment. Even though more chargers have been added in some of the places (like Harris Ranch which originally only had one supercharger!).
          Rotation
          • 10 Months Ago
          @Nick Kordich
          There isn't much contention for Supercharger spots now? Where? There is in my area.
          Joeviocoe
          • 10 Months Ago
          @Nick Kordich
          I am confident that if Tesla were to licence to other automakers, they would charge at the time of purchase, like they do with the Model S. And would thus, build more stations as more SC enabled vehicles are sold... keeping contention low.
          Joeviocoe
          • 10 Months Ago
          @Nick Kordich
          Most areas. Where do you live?
      jim5437532
      • 10 Months Ago
      Tesla seems to be a follower of technology rather than a leader. For many years other manufacturers have been using chargers that automatically manage multiple batteries simultaneously. For the most part it sounds like Tesla is taking from old technology and marketing it as new and their own. The most recent Tesla garage fire to hit the news was in Toronto. The car wasn't even plugged in, so the charging system isn't up to be a source. I'm hoping to hear reports from the fire departments investigation, because I don't trust Tesla's "fire investigations", which seem more like coverups. There has been at least five Tesla fires. Two Teslas caught on fire after running over road debris. One Tesla caught on fire and exploded after being in an accident in Mexico. There was a Tesla fire in a California garage, that the Tesla charger connection was ruled as a possible source of the fire by the fire department. Recently there was a Tesla garage fire in Toronto, that so far I haven't heard the fire department give a ruling. Arguably there has been scores, possibly hundreds of minor Tesla fires. There has been a plethora of Tesla charge connectors that have overheated, melted and burned. Though many Tesla shills will argue that they are not fire. Categorically and scientifically they are often classified as fire. Rapid oxidation or rapid decomposition is often classified as fire. Like the metaphor; where there is smoke, there is fire. A few months ago there was a Tesla related garage fire in California that the fire department ruled that the Tesla charging system was a possible source of the fire. The suspect portion of the Tesla charging system that the fire department in California determined was a possible source of the California garage fire, is also suspected in many other Tesla charger reported cases that Tesla charge connections have overheated, melted and burned. Tesla issued a software "fix", however Tesla charge connectors have continued to overheat, melt and burn despite the so-called "fix". The Tesla model S. still has defects that make it a fire hazard. Tesla charger connections are still overheating, melting and burning. Tesla batteries are poorly located and poorly protected. Tesla is Junk. On 1/9/2014 Elon Musk said that replacement adapters that are part of the recall would be mailed out within two weeks. A month later Tesla customers have still not received the replacement adapters that are part of the Tesla model S. recall. Several people have been injured by faulty Tesla charge connectors. Tesla is big on making promises and hype, but short on delivery. Tesla needs to start making safety a top priority. Tesla needs to stop playing blame games and games with semantics. Tesla needs to stop lying. Tesla needs to be proactive instead of reactive. Tesla is being a follower of technology, rather than a leader. Tesla is a greedy corporation that has a disregard for safety. The Tesla model S. is an E-Pinto.
        Jim1961
        • 10 Months Ago
        @jim5437532
        On average there are about 240 fires per day involving petrol powered vehicles in the United States. Fox News only reports fires involving plugin electric cars because their motto is fair and balanced.
        Zapbrannigan
        • 10 Months Ago
        @jim5437532
        Idiot
        Grendal
        • 10 Months Ago
        @jim5437532
        Cut and paste commentary by Jim543210. He astroturfs this same comment all over the internet. Which says that he is either a loon or a paid shill by someone. My bet - looney-toon.
          DarylMc
          • 10 Months Ago
          @Grendal
          That's probably a good call. If he was being paid to discredit Tesla he is not very good at it.
        Albertico Perez
        • 10 Months Ago
        @jim5437532
        I hope you get paid enough to post this nonsense in every single Tesla article on the internet. You my friend are a waste of bandwidth
        Marco Polo
        • 10 Months Ago
        @jim5437532
        @ jim5437532 When I was a boy on my Step-father's cattle property (ranch) I had an cattle dog named "Syd ". Porr ol' Syd got too old and one day got kicked by a Steer and died. I loved that dog, but I got over his death. I don't know which Tesla owner ran over your dog, but it's time to get over it, and move on ! Just because Tesla has some crazy supporters,( it doesn't need), doesn't mean it needs equally crazy critics. Tesla is not perfect ! Nothing created by man, will ever be perfect. But the Tesla model S is a very good product, product made by a reputable company, with an astonishing record of innovative achievement. By all means, post relevant and accurate criticism, but you must support your allegations with evidence. You don't know the cause of the Toronto fire, (unless you were involved), nor does anyone else at this stage. If Tesla customers have not received adapters, name the source of this information, or it's just an empty slander. Find something real to write about.
        Tysto
        • 10 Months Ago
        @jim5437532
        Wow. That's quite a vendetta you have there. I'd get that looked at. I think it's infected.
      DonkeyEstonkey
      • 10 Months Ago
      Tesla has certainly lapped the major car makers in EV technology and logistics. This will do as was intended; cause the majors to seriously get in the game. The extent that happens, however, is in large part predicated on an American public many have accused as dim... And being that every dollar a car maker spends on technology, or advertising, we consumers pay for in the bottom line, we can only hope, the majors will stop spending jillions of dollars (which are our dollars, ultimately!) on anti EV spin. Because eventually EV's will dominate at least the urban transportation landscapes.
      Grendal
      • 10 Months Ago
      Non-sequitur Tesla information: One guy on TMC calculated out that Tesla shorts have lost a total of $4.5 billion so far. That's an awful lot of money and would certainly be enough to motivate someone into doing something if they were truly desperate. I personally don't like conspiracy theories so I doubt that anything nefarious has occurred. Being motivated enough to post lots of negative statements across the web could certainly happen though. $4.5 billion is definitely a tsunami of hurt.
        Jim1961
        • 10 Months Ago
        @Grendal
        I'm not the kind of person that gets pleasure from other people's pain but I'll make an exception for people shorting Tesla stock and getting burned. Ha Ha Ha!
        m_2012
        • 10 Months Ago
        @Grendal
        Ouch! All your savings could be motivation to do some stupid stuff.
      paulwesterberg
      • 10 Months Ago
      As a programmer this is all basic scheduling queue management. I like Tesla and they do have lots of innovative tech, but this shouldn't be patentable.
        jeff
        • 10 Months Ago
        @paulwesterberg
        If Apple can patent rounded corners, I guess you can patient this...
          Joeviocoe
          • 10 Months Ago
          @jeff
          I don't think the media got that right... the exact corners of the iPhone was issued a "design patent" and quite different from what most people consider a regular "patent" (or "utility patent") http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Design_patent. Since Apple used the silhouette and the simplified lines in their advertisement campaign for years... the brand became recognizable from mere outlines and shapes. The exact curvature of the corners along with the distinguished shape of the speaker and home button... were argued to be "designs" of Apple.
        JakeY
        • 10 Months Ago
        @paulwesterberg
        I don't know if queue management is patent-able, but I think a split charger probably is. AFAIK they are the only ones (maybe first?) that have a split charger design. The other DC chargers that have two cords can't charger both cars simultaneously.
          Joeviocoe
          • 10 Months Ago
          @JakeY
          It looks like the physical circuitry is being patented... not the idea of "queue management" rather Tesla's specific implementation of it. In Electrical Engineering, there are thousands of ways to skin a cat. You patent your specific way... just so your competition cannot use your specific way as a shortcut to catch up quickly. Makes them do their own R&D. Tesla's patent will still leave 999 ways to implement queue management.
        Rotation
        • 10 Months Ago
        @paulwesterberg
        I know. It's crazy. I was talking to the people at chargepoint about the same stuff a few weeks before this application. It hardly seems novel enough to be patentable.
        Joeviocoe
        • 10 Months Ago
        @paulwesterberg
        I am sure the software is not "patentable" in this case. More like copyrighted. If it were awarded, it would likely only hold up for very similar coding work, rather than a patent on the "idea of scheduling queue management". Meaning that Tesla is NOT trying to stop other people from developing their own scheduling queue management... but rather protecting the exact program. The physical circuitry is certainly unique enough though.
          Rotation
          • 10 Months Ago
          @Joeviocoe
          Copyright and patent are not the same thing. This is a patent application, not a copyright. It's impossible to tell from this application if Tesla would try to stop others from doing anything covered even if the patent were awarded.
          Joeviocoe
          • 10 Months Ago
          @Joeviocoe
          Right... that is what I was saying. In response to the comment about "software". This patent is not about "software", but the hardware. I am sure Tesla would sue if someone copied the hardware.
        holophonic
        • 10 Months Ago
        @paulwesterberg
        Agreed. Patents that aren't truly unique do nothing but stifle progress. I just spent several days last week reading through mumbo-jumbo patent legalese to make sure we are not accidentally doing something we should not be. And it all relates to very basic things. This is not easy for a small company.
      • 10 Months Ago
      jim5437532. You are truly a broken record, repeating the same rants on every Tesla article and never quote sources to back up your opinions. You have been warned by several moderators to put up or shut up and all you do is move on to another forum. You say, “Tesla seems to be a follower of technology rather than a leader…Tesla is taking from old technology and marketing as new.” Enlighten us, back up your statements with facts and reliable sources. You say, ”The Tesla model S. still has defects that make it a fire hazard.” Enlighten us, dazzle us with sources and facts. You say. “Arguably there has been scores, possibly hundreds of minor Tesla fires. There has been a plethora of Tesla charge connectors that have overheated, melted and burned.” Enlighten us, prove it. You say, “The Tesla model S. still has defects that make it a fire hazard. Tesla charger connections are still overheating, melting and burning. Tesla batteries are poorly located and poorly protected. Tesla is Junk.” Enlighten us. You say, “Tesla needs to start making safety a top priority. Tesla needs to stop playing blame games and games with semantics. Tesla needs to stop lying. Tesla needs to be proactive instead of reactive. Tesla is being a follower of technology, rather than a leader. Tesla is a greedy corporation that has a disregard for safety. The Tesla model S. is an E-Pinto.” Enlighten us, show us the truth. Please put up or be quiet.
      • 10 Months Ago
      The real trick is to swap out the rechargeable battery pack for a freshly-charged one and immediately drive away vs plugging in and waiting for a charge. Fuel cells or etc. may even obsolete that possibility soon. Technology moves at high-speed these days.
        Grendal
        • 10 Months Ago
        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6_XEv2f_Uhw Battery swap demonstration.
        Joeviocoe
        • 10 Months Ago
        http://www.teslamotors.com/batteryswap Has the same video of the demo... but keep an eye on this webpage, for when Tesla updates it.
        • 10 Months Ago
        Arnold P. Tesla has already demonstrated that they can swap a charged battery in 90 seconds. Whether the demand and the paperwork is worth it remains to be seen. Regarding fuel cells, technology advances but not that fast. IMO many more than a few years and then you need a national fueling infrastructure.
        Joeviocoe
        • 10 Months Ago
        Yes, Tesla plans to have a small test network of battery swap stations from L.A. to S.F. in a few months.
      DarylMc
      • 10 Months Ago
      Seems jim5437532 has been very busy spreading his stories. "Jim/Jim5437532 appears to be a desperate short, shotgun blasting anti-Tesla FUD. As of 14Feb2014 9:07am, Googling "Tesla is junk" with time range "past week" gives at least fifteen articles with the same cut-n-paste FUD comments containing this phrase, under the names Jim and Jim5437532 (Motley Fool, Disqus). " Copied from this site http://www.fool.com/investing/general/2014/02/14/a-tesla-test-drive-does-the-model-s-live-up-to-the.aspx
        Jim1961
        • 10 Months Ago
        @DarylMc
        Good job DarylMc!
        Jim1961
        • 10 Months Ago
        @DarylMc
        His first line, "Tesla is a follower of technology not a leader" instantly discredits him in my mind. Tesla a follower? Pull the other one!
        DarylMc
        • 10 Months Ago
        @DarylMc
        Hi Jim1961 I don't like to do personal attacks. But jim5437532 has put a lot of effort to spread misinformation about Tesla and clearly up to no good.
      bluepongo1
      • 10 Months Ago
      Good news from Tesla Motors!!!! The anti-Tesla Motors trolls will get more desperate, repeat the same grudge fiction, try to tear down a product they could never afford, and make personal attacks on a CEO.... all to make themselves feel better about being losers who want to " I told you so." :-P
        DaveMart
        • 10 Months Ago
        @bluepongo1
        I doubt the motivation you give is correct. Being short Tesla would be ample motivation to try to spread as much FUD as possible.
        bluepongo1
        • 10 Months Ago
        @bluepongo1
        Then they're insane to think spamming low information blogs with easily debunked misinformation will influence anyone and/or automated trading.
          Marco Polo
          • 10 Months Ago
          @bluepongo1
          @ Joeviocoe Very true Joe, Tesla's phenomenal share price is not the result of institutional investors, but small investors. I would imagine that for most of these investors, this is the first time they've owned stock in an industrial concern, and see Tesla as part of a larger philosophic or ideological commitment. That's why many Tesla investors are more tenacious than the dot .com type investor A very unexpected, but fascinating development for processionals within the finance industry.
          bluepongo1
          • 10 Months Ago
          @bluepongo1
          Bulls & bears .... but pigs get slaughtered .... right @ jim5437532
          Joeviocoe
          • 10 Months Ago
          @bluepongo1
          Much of TSLA's float is from enthusiastic investors... people susceptible to information campaigns. As was proven with Tesla's last round of fires.
        Joeviocoe
        • 10 Months Ago
        @bluepongo1
        profit beats sour grapes every time
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