Elon Musk Wasn't Kidding: Tesla Is Developing An Automated Plug-In 'Snake Charger'

January 2, 2015

Back in October, Tesla Motors' CEO, Elon Musk, shocked the auto world when he unveiled "The D",  a performance package for the company's Model S sedan. The D package was slated to go on sale last month.

While most media outlets focused on the package's suite of enhancements, like semi-autonomous driving and collision avoidance systems, Musk shared another intriguing tidbit during the unveiling -- one that concerns the way that the Model S gets powered up. Around the 9:22 mark in the video above, Musk says that he'd like to create a way for "the charge connector [to] plug itself in, like an articulating...like a sort of a snake...".

And that was it. Musk didn't dwell on it, he just dropped that little bomb and moved on.

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But despite his jovial demeanor, Musk is a fairly serious man. He doesn't often say things unless he intends to act upon them.

And so it is with this "snake charger" (which is what we're going to call it for now). As Engadget points out, Musk sent out this tweet on New Year's Eve:

Unfortunately, that's all the "official" news we've received about Tesla's self-attaching charger, though we can make a few guesses about it:

1. It will likely be compatible with the full range of Tesla vehicles, including some of the earliest ones. If Musk were focused on another charging system -- say, an inductive one -- that might involve tweaking the cars themselves, but it seems to us as if this "solid metal snake" could be designed to accommodate any kind of plug for any kind of Tesla. Which means owners of older models like the Roadster can benefit from the innovation and stay in the Tesla fold.

2. It probably won't be available for a while. Based on Musk's comments in the video, it doesn't sound as if his engineers knew anything about the new charging system before he discussed it onstage. If that's the case, they obviously hadn't been working on it, and may have only recently begun exploring options. Since Musk has referenced the charging system twice now, we expect it's definitely in development, but it probably won't be available for owners until much later in 2015 -- or, perhaps more likely, 2016.

Stay tuned. We'll share more details about the snake charger when they become available -- possibly during CES next week or at the Detroit Auto Show the week after that.

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