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Chaos In California, As Teslas Queue Up To Recharge on Black Friday

December 6, 2019

By Paul Homewood

h/t AC Osborn


It did not really take a genius to work out that something like this would happen:



Dozens of Tesla drivers in California were forced to wait in an extensive line after what should’ve been a quick stop at a Supercharger station turned into an hours-long ordeal.

Shanon Stellini was travelling through Kettleman City on November 30 when she stumbled across a backlog of around 50 of the electric cars waiting to recharge in a half-mile line outside of at a station near Interstate 5.

‘Bet they wish they had gas’, quipped Stellini’s partner in a video she captured of the chaos – but for the drivers stranded in the stagnant line the issue was certainly no laughing matter.

The Kettleman City Supercharger station – located halfway between Los Angeles and San Francisco – is already immensely popular, but even with 40 charging stalls on-site the facility was still overrun by the overwhelming demand that one of the year’s busiest travel times brings.

To make matters worse, simultaneous re-charging slows down the speed of charging for everyone – encumbering a process that can already take up to as long as 75 minutes.

It’s unclear how long the Tesla drivers were forced to wait, however, one disgruntled commuter tweeted that he’d been waiting in the line for 40 minutes but only appeared to be ‘half way there’.

With Tesla’s Model 3 now being produced in mass, there are currently thought to be more than 400,000 Teslas on the roads of America.

But the surge in popularity has exposed a series of flaws in the Supercharger network’s operations this holiday season, which is sure to give the Elon Musk-owned company food for thought as the fallout seen in Kettleman City was not an isolated incident.

A day earlier, a video titled ‘Tesla Energy Crisis’ revealed a sizable line of 15 Teslas waiting for their turn at a Supercharger station in San Luis Obispo around 4.45pm on Thanksgiving day

Teslas could be seen wrapping around the outer edge of the Madonna Inn as families waited inside the running cars for a chance to refuel.

For a Model S Tesla at a Supercharger station, it will take about 20 minutes to charge 50 percent and 40 minutes to charge 80 percent.

Tesla’s website says that drivers will have enough to finish their trip on 80 percent, but owners can reach 100 percent fueled in 75 minutes.


Although there are 400,000 Teslas, this is still a tiny number in proportion to the estimated 272 million cars on US roads, just 0.1%.

Scale up the number of Teslas and other EVs into the hundreds of millions, and the resultant traffic chaos could be frightening, even if tens of billions are spent on building many more charger points.

In the UK, matters will be much worse still, given the crowded nature of our country and roads. We already know how bad traffic jams are on Bank Holidays and the like, but they will be a tea party when millions of cars are queuing up to recharge.

The knock on effect traffic flows generally is another factor to consider. We aren’t just talking about a queue at the services on the motorway. Tailbacks could quickly cause problems on the motorways themselves, and town centres would quickly get gridlocked.

  1. Immune to propaganda permalink
    December 6, 2019 1:19 pm

    Mass stupidity. Milk floats worked in the 1950’s for short distances……

  2. Tony Plummer permalink
    December 6, 2019 1:42 pm

    I bet Tesla isn’t even considering the damage to the human body that’s created by sitting on top of batteries for any length of time.

  3. Sheri permalink
    December 6, 2019 1:50 pm

    Flashbacks to the gas lines of the 70’s oil crisis. The smug Tesla owners are smacked upside the head by REALITY.

  4. Gamecock permalink
    December 6, 2019 1:53 pm

    ‘Dozens of Tesla drivers in California were forced to wait in an extensive line after what should’ve been a quick stop at a Supercharger station turned into an hours-long ordeal.’


    And ‘quick’ is full o’ schiff.

    ‘For a Model S Tesla at a Supercharger station, it will take about 20 minutes to charge 50 percent and 40 minutes to charge 80 percent.’

    The theory is that Tesla owners will share? Hey, if I’ve got the station, I’m not leaving after 20 minutes. I don’t care how long the line is.

    ‘The Kettleman City Supercharger station – located halfway between Los Angeles and San Francisco’

    Seriously bad geography. Who wrote this? ‘Luke Kenton?’ Sub editors didn’t check?

    • Ed Bo permalink
      December 7, 2019 3:53 pm

      “Who wrote this?” Someone who knows California geography a lot better than you do.

      Kettleman City is very close to the exact halfway point on I-5 between SF and LA. I’ve stopped there hundreds of times.

      • Gamecock permalink
        December 7, 2019 4:25 pm

        Oops. I was looking at Kettleman, and not Kettleman City.

        I blame my map app.

  5. Michael Adams permalink
    December 6, 2019 1:55 pm

    I spend about 4 minutes filling my tank with petrol, if that. I’ll time it next time. In busy times I often have to wait a few minutes for my turn at the pump. That is when there are plenty of stations around. Imagine what would happen if you have even twice the number of charging points as fuel pumps taking 30-40 minutes to do what a pump can do in 4 minutes. That’ll be a vote winner.

  6. Gerry, England permalink
    December 6, 2019 1:58 pm

    But the point is that in our bright future we won’t be driving anywhere so problem solved. The City of London Transport Strategy has vehicles numbers reduced to 10% by 2040. It doesn’t matter that much if it Corbyn or Johnson, the end result will be the same just the time to arrive there will be different.

  7. December 6, 2019 1:59 pm

    They should do what you see lots of EV drivers do. Always tow a trailer with a diesel generator and on it.

    • Gerry, England permalink
      December 6, 2019 3:02 pm

      Ah, the ingenuity of humans to find a solution.

  8. December 6, 2019 2:06 pm

    Reblogged this on Climate-

  9. GeoffB permalink
    December 6, 2019 2:09 pm

    I have seen the future and it does not work!

  10. Mack permalink
    December 6, 2019 2:34 pm

    Despite more than a century’s worth of evolution and development, modern day electric cars suffer from exactly the same problems that their Victorian forebears endured namely, limited range and a costly price tag. That’s why gasoline cars came to dominate the vehicle market and will remain so unless driven off the road, literally, by government mandate. Similarly, windmills as an energy source were ditched on a large commercial scale because of their intermittency and limited power. It’s rather curious that our green tinged overlords insist on returning to old technologies that don’t work efficiently, cost a fortune, trash the environment and, remarkably, don’t even change the weather. Bonkers. A cynic might suspect that there would be an ulterior motive for such insanity.

  11. December 6, 2019 2:48 pm

    In Canada it gets real cold.Minus 20 or more .Batteries only have about a half life. I can’t see electric cars becoming main stream. More for short commutes. And the cost is prohibitive without subsidies

  12. MrGrimNasty permalink
    December 6, 2019 2:51 pm

    Anyone can see that cables and chargers all over the place is completely impractical in the UK. Doubly so, when streets and parking will have to accommodate large numbers of IC cars for decades and decades to come. If charger parking is restricted to EVs only, it will be (even more) chaos.

    The latest Evija hyper electric car from Lotus does look impressive (not remotely affordable or ‘green’ though).

    • Harry Passfield permalink
      December 6, 2019 8:32 pm

      That’s a seriously good design…not sure about the motive force yet.

  13. December 6, 2019 3:02 pm

    Reblogged this on Climate Collections.

  14. Gerry, England permalink
    December 6, 2019 3:04 pm

    I see they are crowing about the latest sales figures for our depressed car market where non-ICE vehicles has increased. Note that as ever there is lots of percentages and of course hybrids – due for banning in time – are lumped together with battery cars. I suspect far more hybrids are sold….

  15. Martin Thomson permalink
    December 6, 2019 3:31 pm

    What effect does a ‘supercharger’ recharging a battery in 80 mins have on the overall life of these batteries? I always assumed very fast charging would have a detrimental effect – am I wrong?

    The sort of supercharger I prefer is on the front end of a 5 litre V8

  16. mwhite permalink
    December 6, 2019 4:57 pm

    The vid

    • Michael Adams permalink
      December 7, 2019 5:17 pm

      Those guys must be feeling like they’ve been scammed. Would be wonderful to interview them about their car choice now. How foolish they must feel.

  17. sean2829 permalink
    December 6, 2019 6:02 pm

    Tesla’s super chargers draw 120 KW. That’s nearly 5MW for one charging station with 40 chargers.
    Now imagine a few years on in a zero carbon economy, it’s cold, the winds not blowing and every heat pump in the country is maxed out for holiday gatherings, then multiply the draw at 120K per charger and millions of holiday travelers hitting the roads.

  18. December 6, 2019 6:10 pm

    the resultant traffic chaos could be frightening

    Only at the charging stations. But they could ration the time allowed for each punter 😄

  19. markl permalink
    December 6, 2019 7:00 pm

    And this is with less than 4% of the cars in California being all electric and even less than that capable of using a Tesla Super Charger station.

  20. Coeur de Lion permalink
    December 6, 2019 7:05 pm

    My experience as an anti submarine specialist tells me that batteries have to be treated like princesses and pandered to otherwise they lose potency and have to be replaced. Rapid charging and partial charging is bad news. By the way, did anyone check out the owner population? Were they all rich middle class virtue signallers?

    • Colin MacDonald permalink
      December 8, 2019 10:10 am

      Give Tesla their due, they have done some pretty serious engineering to prolong battery life, they should still have a reasonable range after 100,000 miles. You certainly wouldn’t want to run them flat, but then again you don’t do that in a normal car, especially a diesel.

  21. Stonyground permalink
    December 6, 2019 7:07 pm

    How is this a surprise? My old Saab 93 had a tank range of 600 miles and could be fully recharged in two minutes. Cars with limited range that take ten times as long as that to get even half a charge cause massive queues, well of course they effing well do. My local garage has eight pumps, each offering petrol or diesel. There is hardly ever a wait to fill up. If they were to provide the same service for electric cars they would need something like 160 charging points and it would still take 40 minutes to get mostly filled up. Using power that was mostly generated using fossil fuels.

  22. johnbillscott permalink
    December 6, 2019 7:18 pm

    If you live in a country with extreme climate very hot summers and very cold winters the EV becomes problematic. We need A/C in summer and heating/defrosting in winter, both require power that will reduce the purported vehicle range. In winter batteries do not produce the power unless they are heated. All the aforementioned requirements come form waste engine heat or via a PTO from the engine. If you do run out of gas it can be delivered to the car by the AAA/AA/RAC with EV it is going to be an expensive tow job. So good to see progress in action.

    • Lorne Newell permalink
      December 6, 2019 8:16 pm

      Seems to me I recall someone talking about getting rid of the dams. Where in hell is the power to recharge all the cars going to come from? Hint, don’t say the wall plug. Your Governor doesn’t do group think, he does no think.

  23. Doug Richmond permalink
    December 6, 2019 9:02 pm

    Maybe an entrepreneur can devise a windmill generator to mount on the roof of a Tesla to constantly renew the batteries as you drive. ;< }

  24. Washington 76 permalink
    December 6, 2019 9:47 pm

    Not only charging you also have a so called green problem.

    Feb 8, 2016 Are Electric Cars Really Green?

    Are electric cars greener than conventional gasoline cars? If so, how much greener? What about the CO2 emissions produced during electric cars’ production?

  25. December 6, 2019 11:13 pm

    Reblogged this on Utopia, you are standing in it!.

  26. David permalink
    December 7, 2019 12:11 am

    I recall that LA to San Francisco is around 300 miles. There will always have to be many charging stations along this important route with virtually no possibility of completing the journey with one charge. I see electric cars as the ultimate misery. The smart ones will keenly charge when needed but you average motorist will never quite know whether he can make it home without a boost. He’ll have too keep his heater off to save juice and how many cars are going to finally stop, blocking narrow country roads and needing rescue?

    • Michael Adams permalink
      December 7, 2019 5:13 pm

      The obvious answer is to have a spare battery in the boot/trunk. can’t see any flaw in that plan………Oh yes now i do.

  27. December 7, 2019 5:55 am

    Reblogged this on ajmarciniak.

  28. December 8, 2019 7:01 am

    Now, extrapolate that to 10’s of thousands trying to evacuate Florida for an impending Cat5 hurricane. Won’t THAT be fun!

  29. Colin MacDonald permalink
    December 8, 2019 10:29 am

    I suspect that the limited range wouldn’t be a great problem in Britain, I don’t think I’ve done more than 130miles in a single journey in 10years. And I can’t charge up my diesel overnight in my driveway, if I had a Tesla could and would only need roadside chargers rarely.
    It’s different in the States though… Especially San Francisco. If you’re spending $50000 on a car you probably want to be able to reach LA without an enforced 20minute stop half way there. Or worse, sit in a queue for an hour, and then spend time charging up.
    This could really kill Tesla’s business. Up until now their big problem has been meeting demand, their doing it now, big time, but as these thousands of cars hit the roads we’ll see these queues get REALLY stupid. And who’s going to buy Teslas then? The fan boys will have got theirs already, ordinary Joes aren’t going to pay double for something that they have park every 3 hours on the interstate. So demand will crash and Tesla’s brief profitability will go down the toilet.

    • December 9, 2019 12:43 am

      “…demand will crash and Tesla’s brief profitability will go down the toilet”

      Where it belongs!

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