Would Tesla have a problem with the fast charging of its Model 3 and Model Y? This is what we are going to see in this file which summarizes the differences in terms of charging from the first electric cars of the brand to the very latest.
Ionity on the right, Tesla Supercharger on the left // Source: Bob JOUY for Aroged
Tesla-branded electric cars are among the champions of fast charging, but not necessarily for the reasons one would imagine. Indeed, if we consider purely the average power of a classic 30-minute charge, they are far from impressing the Kia EV6 or other Hyundai Ioniq 5 of this world.
Fortunately, their efficiency (fairly low consumption) ensures them fast long journeys, where recharging breaks do not need to multiply compared to other cars which charge faster, but consume more. However, a rather new phenomenon has been occurring for several years: Tesla charging slower and slower.
We will come back to this subject in detail, trying to provide some answers explaining why the new Teslas no longer manage to charge as quickly as the old ones.
The promises of a very fast Supercharging
Tesla is well known for its network of fast chargers: Superchargers. With an advertised charging power of 250 kW per terminal, the Superchargers represent for many the assurance of traveling through Europe without any hassle. On the Tesla website, they are also highlighted as a big advantage of vehiclesas seen in the Tesla Model Y illustration below.
Tesla Model Y Supercharge // Source : Tesla
Thus, it is indicated that the maximum charging power is 250 kW, and thata 15-minute charge adds up to 275 kilometers of range. In practice, we have already confronted these figures with reality during our tests of the Tesla Model Y Grande Autonomie or the Tesla Model Y Performance, and we should not take literally what Tesla announces.
First of all, if the 250 kW are indeed theoretically achievable on the Tesla Model Y Performance or Long Autonomy, this is not the case with the Tesla Model Y Propulsion, which is limited to a maximum of 170 kW. In addition, the 275 kilometers advertised by recharging 15 minutes relate to the Tesla Model 3, and not the Tesla Model Y, which is advertised at 241 kilometers recharged in 15 minutes.
In addition, this estimate of the number of kilometers recharged in 15 minutes is of course to be taken in the sense of the WLTP mixed consumption cycle, and not in kilometers actually travelled. Indeed, in 15 minutes of Supercharging and in perfect conditions, a Tesla Model 3 or Model Y will have recharged approximately 35 kWh, which represents 170 kilometers of highway at most, which is quite far from the 275 kilometers announced.
As we have already mentioned in our file on the vehicles that recharge the fastest, a Tesla has an average charging power of only around 100 kW on a load of 10 to 80%, which is very far from 250 kW displayed as the maximum allowed power. It is therefore important to keep in mind that the promises of a Supercharge, however fast, do not represent the reality on the ground.
The fastest are the oldest
Teslas are well known for being computers on wheels, which benefit from frequent updates aimed at improving the user experience. Unfortunately, this does not necessarily apply to all components of the car, as the disappearance of the radar or ultrasonic sensors of the Tesla Model 3 and Model Y still reminds us recently.
This counter-intuitive observation also applies to the charging speed, since the fastest-charging Teslas aren’t the newest. We particularly highlighted this during our test of the Tesla Model Y Long Autonomy in 2021, which at the time was much slower to charge than an old Tesla Model 3 Long Autonomy from 2019.
The differences between a 2019 Tesla Model 3 and a 2021 Model Y in Supercharge // Source: Bob JOUY for Aroged
In practice, it is up to 35% longer charging time for a new Tesla Model 3 or Model Y for a typical charging session, compared to another similar car produced in 2019, nearly four years ago. This loss in charging speed makes the advantage of the fastest chargers much less important on new Teslas, for which there is little difference between a V2 Supercharger (limited to 150 kW) or a V3 Supercharger (limited to 250kW).
For example, under ideal conditions, we added 28% battery with a Tesla Model Y Performance on a terminal limited to 150 kW in 10 minutes, and 30% battery on a terminal limited to 250 kW. This lack of significant difference, even as Tesla implements more and more V3 Superchargers, seems surprising, but we will see that there are undoubtedly reasons which explain the regressions on the charging speeds of the new battery packs.
Let’s take this opportunity to remind you that the advantage of Superchargers v3 can also be found elsewhere. They do not share their maximum power between them, and it is therefore possible to recharge at the highest power on each terminal even if the station is full of electric cars that are refueling. Unlike v2 Superchargers which share their power.
In practice, charging from 10 to 80% goes from about 25 to 30 minutes on new Teslas. In detail, it is the 10 to 60% range that has seen the greatest drop, dropping from 15 to 20 minutes on the most recent models. Going from 60% to 80% takes about the same time on the different versions, 10 minutes.
A supply problem that requires adaptation
Before 2020, Tesla’s production volumes allowed it to source batteries from a single supplier, which was Panasonic. The manufacturer’s rise to prominence prompted it to resort to different battery manufacturers to be able to equip all its vehicles. Thus, the industry giant LG was among the first to meet the requirements of Elon Musk’s firm, and has been producing batteries for the Tesla Model 3 and Model Y since the course of 2020.
More recently, the Chinese manufacturer CATL has also become a supplier of Tesla, in particular for the Propulsion versions of its Model 3 and Model Y, which have quickly become the most produced variants.
As soon as LG batteries arrive on board the 2020 and 2021 Tesla Model 3, customers began to see fast charging powers that were lower than before. It seems that Tesla at the time accepted batteries that were less efficient than the old Panasonic ones, in order to be able to deliver enough vehicles that year.
Indeed, it is likely that Tesla’s requirements had to be lowered, otherwise there would not have been enough batteries supplied only by Panasonic to equip the entire production of Elon’s firm. Musk. However, Tesla’s strength is to be able to update its fleet of vehicles remotely, in particular to control the charging curve once enough data has been accumulated.
That’s why after many months, the peak charging power has been increased on the LG battery packs of the 2021 Tesla Model 3 and Model Y. Tesla therefore put vehicles on the market with new batteries, and increased the charging power a few months later, after having collected enough data to ensure the reliability of the cells. This policy may well continue to exist at Tesla, as long as the supply problems continue.
This strategy allows the American manufacturer to respond to strong consumer demand, while delivering to them a vehicle that meets the initial specifications, that is to say, to recharge quickly… without giving really more figures. accurate.
Is this a problem that will be fixed?
Since the introduction of batteries from several vendors in 2020, there has been little change, to the point where the vehicles capable of charging the fastest remain the oldest, dating back to the year 2019. Nowadays , Tesla has far too many different battery models across its lineup to have resources to devote to optimizing each charging profile..
This is why we now find identical charging profiles for the different batteries of the Tesla Model 3 and Model Y, and no longer a particular optimization for each, as soon as it is released. On the Tesla Model S and Model X, it took much longer to see an improvement in the power of Supercharging.
In effect, the European Tesla Model S and Model X released since 2020 only charged at a maximum of 150 kW until the end of summer 2022, where an update finally allowed them to enjoy higher charging power. The same vehicles delivered to the United States could from the start charge at full power, which shows that fixing these inconveniences is not in Tesla’s priorities.
A Tesla Model S in Supercharge // Source: Bob Jouy for Aroged
In the days when Tesla only had one battery model to manage, everything was simpler: the fast charging profile was calibrated perfectly for the battery in question, and was applied to the entire range. It also corresponded to a time when Tesla had no room for error.and had to win a clientele to become known.
But now, demand exceeding supply, Tesla can afford to lower its requirements to deliver more vehicles each quarter. What’s more, this regression in the speed of Supercharging does not seem to panic the customers, who are only impacted during long journeys, and with an increase in charging time of a few minutes.
We estimate about fifteen minutes lost for a journey of 800 kilometers approximately, between a car equipped with a 2019 battery and one from 2022. This is quite insignificant for Tesla to decide to fix the problem urgently. What’s more, despite a lower charging power than the competition, the efficiency of Tesla makes them among the fastest vehicles to carve the roadeven in the face of manufacturers who have chosen 800-volt architectures such as the Kia EV6, Hyundai Ioniq 5 or Porsche Taycan.
Finally, the future arrival of Tesla’s revolutionary batteries in the 4680 format could signal a new start for the firm, which would reaffirm its superiority in the field of fast charging if the powers accepted increase significantly. But for the moment, the Teslas of today charge less quickly than those of yesterday.
Soon two years after their presentation, Tesla’s 4680 format cells are beginning to be integrated into the American manufacturer’s vehicles. Who manufactures them, what are the benefits for the customer, and for what…
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