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How does that make sense? Wouldn’t a full charge mean fewer stops and less charging time overall? The explanation, which Musk calls “counterintuitive,” lies in a crucial difference between batteries and gas tanks.

The more you charge, the longer it takes

“For a gasoline car, you would fill it up,” Musk said during a recent episode of “The Joe Rogan Experience” podcast. “For a battery, the charge state tapers off as you get above 80%.”

“I think the right analogy here is cars in a parking lot,” he continued. “The lithium ions are trying to find a parking space as they move across from one side of the battery to the other side.”

A battery at low charge is akin to an empty parking lot, Musk said — the ions can "zip right in there and find a spot.” But as the battery gets closer to full, it becomes more like a busy mall’s parking lot, where the available spots are scarce. In that situation, the ions "have to bounce around more" to find their places.

“Getting from 80 to 100 (percent) takes about as much time as getting from 0 to 80,” Musk told Rogan.

In other words, you could cut charging time by 50% and still get 80% of your EV’s range. That tradeoff could help keep your long road trips from becoming interminable.

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‘Range is not an issue’

As the Rogan interview shows, Musk is keen to address the charging-time issue. To that end, Tesla has invested in a worldwide network of more than 50,000 of its proprietary Superchargers, which the company claims can add up to 200 miles of range in just 15 minutes.

“Since charging above 80% is rarely necessary, stops are typically short and convenient,” the company says.

When Rogan asked Musk if he’s satisfied with Tesla’s current technology “in terms of mileage you get out of it,” Musk replied, “Yeah, range is not an issue.”

’Needs to be affordable’

“Cost is more of an issue,” said, stressing that “a long-range car needs to be affordable.”

Right now, the entry-level Tesla Model 3, which has a government-certified range of 272 miles, starts at $38,900 before taxes. The Model 3 Long Range variant starts at $45,990 and offers a 358-mile range. For those seeking an exceptionally long range, the 405-mile range Model S comes with a heftier base price of $74,990.

While Musk wants to make more affordable EVs, consumers have plenty of love for Tesla’s current lineup. In 2022, the company delivered 1,313,851 EVs, representing a 40% increase year over year.

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About the Author

Jing Pan

Jing Pan

Investment Reporter

Jing is an investment reporter for MoneyWise. He is an avid advocate of investing for passive income. Despite the ups and downs he’s been through with the markets, Jing believes that you can generate a steadily increasing income stream by investing in high quality companies.

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