As a TeslaFounder Elon Musk announced at the end of 2013 that he wanted to invest "a lot of money" in Germany, and some people smiled at him. That was shortly after the start of his Model S electric limousine in Germany, Musk announced that he would shortly install a quick-charging network across Germany (and Europe) at his expense, where customers could charge his limousine, which cost at least € 75.800, free of charge. A PR stunt? Today, about a year and a half later, it is becoming clear what the US investor meant by "a lot of money".
There are now 35 so-called superchargers between Flensburg and Garmisch, with an average of five to six charging stations each. They are located on motorways and actually cover a very large part of Germany. The Model S has a range of 440 kilometers with the smaller of the two battery versions; in 20 minutes on a Supercharger, it is half full. With the time spent on a coffee break for refueling, Model S customers should lose their fear of range. Many holidaymakers have apparently had this for a long time: According to Tesla, around half of the charging processes on German columns are carried out by foreign customers.
Now for the money: 1,8 gigawatt hours (GWh) of electricity have flowed through the fast-charging stations in Germany since 2013, according to Tesla. That is about as much as an average household would consume in 514 years (3.500 kWh / year, according to the Federal Association for Energy and Water Management). Tesla pays the electricity costs, and customers can fill up for free. With an average (private customer) electricity price of 29 cents / kWh, that would theoretically be 522.000 euros that the Americans donated to their customers last year. In addition, there are around 2,6 million for the construction of the superchargers in Germany, the costs of which Tesla does not mention, but which are rumored to cost around 75.000 euros per station.
Other countries in Europe have long been electrified by Tesla, there are 150 Superchargers across Europe. The network extends to southern France, Great Britain or northern Norway - and with it the buyers: Due to tax relief, the Model S temporarily displaced the VW Golf from the throne of the best-selling cars of the month in Norway, for example.
The electricity consumption of the superchargers increases with the number of systems installed: in March 2015, the Europeans tanked 1,5 GWh of electricity there, which (in mathematical terms) corresponds to eight million kilometers driven electrically. Or - based on a European electricity price of around 20 cents - about 300.000 euros for Elon Musk.
Whether it will work out for him will probably only be answered in years to come. Tesla has not yet made any profits. According to the CEO, it should stay that way in the coming years due to further investments. The SUV Model X, which has already been announced for some time, could possibly come onto the market this year, but a volume model ("Model 3") should not follow for two years. "We could make money now if we didn't invest," Musk said earlier this year. Investments continue to be made in Europe: by the end of 2015, Tesla plans to expand the network to the Spanish Peninsula, southern Italy, Eastern Europe and Finland.
Author: Hanne Lübbehüsen / SP-X