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With EVs going faster and farther than ever, the last hurdle, the final counterargument to their widespread adoption, has come down to charging time. It simply takes longer to put electricity in a battery than it does gas in a tank. Never mind that EVs can be charged at home, overnight, greatly reducing the need to stop at a public charger—time spent at the public charger continues to be a major hang-up for many potential EV buyers. Faster charging has therefore become the holy grail of the EV industry.
Tesla already has the fastest chargers available, but with major competitors announcing their own high-powered charging networks on the horizon, the California automaker rolled out its third-generation Supercharger with 250-kW peak charging power to stay ahead of the pack. Big numbers were thrown around, including charging speeds of 1,000 miles of range added per hour of charging.
Of course, all of the numbers came with conditions like “up to” and “average,” so we asked Tesla for a Model 3 Long Range Dual Motor, drained its battery down to 10 percent, downloaded the latest V3-enabling firmware, and headed over to Tesla’s first public V3 Supercharger at its Hawthorne, California, design studio.
There we discovered why Tesla says its V3 Supercharging technology is still in beta. It was not quite up to its full production spec. Our Model 3 Long Range, provided by Tesla, was unable to install the firmware update, precluding us from performing our test. Thinking ahead, Tesla had a Model 3 Long Range Dual Motor Performance (which has the same battery as a Model 3 Long Range) on standby with its firmware update preinstalled. Cars swapped, we plugged in. (Counterintuitively, the V3’s cable is actually slimmer and more flexible than V1 and V2 cables thanks to its liquid cooling, which doesn’t require as much insulation.)